A crowd of 400,000 fans welcomed Germany's soccer team home on Tuesday with a victory parade in Berlin, chanting "football god!" at their team of revered heroes. Needless to say, the Germans have celebrated their hard-earned win in style.
Image Credit: AP.
After a long and arduous World Cup journey, the Germans came home triumphant with the trophy.
But as the international spotlight hits Germany, it's worth it to mention that the country doesn't just win at soccer. Germany is a country that has excelled in multiple areas, giving its citizens access to a pretty high quality of life.
Here are nine things that make Germany great:
1. Germany just voted for a higher national minimum wage.
As fewer of Germany's workers rely on union agreements for their wage levels, a higher minimum wage has become a pressing issue in the country. A few weeks ago, the lower house of Parliament voted to make the national minimum wage 8.50 euros, which is about $11.60 an hour.
It joined the ranks of France, Britain and Netherlands for a higher minimum wage than that of the U.S.
2. Its health care system rocks.
Germany's health insurance system is what Obamacare could look like in the future: Employed citizens pay half of their health insurance, while their employers cover the rest, but there are no limitations on what doctor you can see and the co-pay is pretty minimal.
In short: Germans don't run the risk of emptying their bank accounts when they're sick.
Its health care network works effectively, too. An American Journal of Public Health study found that Germany extends life for approximately four months with each $100 it spends on health care. The United States pales in comparison: For every $100 dollars it spends on health care, it extends life for just a few weeks.
3. It's pushing for renewable energy.
Germany has an eight-year project underway called "energy transformation" to replace nuclear power with renewable energy sources.
The Parliament adopted controversial legislation in June, much to the EU's chagrin, to mitigate the economic side effects of that project on consumers and businesses trying to promote the change. So not only does Germany want more renewable energy sources, it wants to alleviate the price of finding them.
4. It has an official third gender.
In 2013 Germany became the first country in Europe to have three gender choices on its official passport: male, female and blank.
The decision was a landmark one for parents and loved ones of intersex children. Before the legislation, the government forced parents to make a quick decision about their child's sex, sometimes leading to hasty medical procedures.
5. The German public supports same-sex marriage.
Even though Germany hasn't officially legalized same-sex marriage, three quarters of Germans said they support it in a 2013 national poll. In the United States, this number was 52% in 2013. Civil partnerships for same-sex couples are legal across Germany, and social movements are pushing for the legalization of marriage.
6. Its air is spanking clean.
Germany's air has considerably less pollutants than the international average, according to the OECD Better Life Index.
The level of pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs in Germany is 15.6 micrograms per cubic meter. The OECD average is 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. That's some good breathing.
7. Its education system is relatively successful.
Apparently, the education system teaches its students well in a diverse arena of topics. German students scored higher in reading literacy, math and science than the international average in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment.
8. It has a pretty cool woman chancellor.
Angela Merkel is the first female Chancellor of Germany and has been since 2005. She is extremely popular with all ages of the German population. They call her "Mutti," or mother, in an admiring way. She is known for her calm, steady hand and her ability to win people over with it.
9. Its art is based on "true merit."
Recently, Jonathan Jones for the Guardian made the argument that Germans should win at an "artistic" World Cup as well. He compared famous German artists to its soccer players in their work ethic and integrity, and English artists were compared to the commercial and "celebrity-fixated" aspects of English soccer.
"German artists, like their footballers, get on with work of true merit," Jones wrote. In Germany's case, it's highly possible that art imitates sports imitates life. And they're all good.