It can be hard for visitors to Berlin to imagine where the Berlin Wall once separated Germany's communist East from the U.S.-friendly West. Today, commuters run to catch a metro where trains stood for nearly 30 years. Curried sausages are sold and illegal (but popular) parties are celebrated in empty warehouses just feet from where East Germans were shot by their own countrymen as they tried to cross the border to the west.
Next week, Germany will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and at first glance, it seems as if the country is more united than some nations that were never split. RELATED: 4 simple lessons the world could learn from German reunification]
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But numbers and images illustrating differences in lifestyles and problems between East and West Germans tell a different story. While 75 percent of Germans who live in the east said they considered their country's reunification a success in a recent survey only half of western Germans agreed. And that's not the only distinction indicating that the separation of the past prevails today.
Berlin, photographed from a Space Station
Over 20 years since the Berlin Wall was dismantled the effects of separating the city can still be seen from space. The yellow lights correspond to East Berlin and the greener tones show West Berlin. (Copyright: ESA/NASA)
The photo above was taken by astronaut André Kuipers from the International Space Station in 2012. It shows one division of Berlin: While the yellow lights are in east Berlin, the green parts mark the western part.
Daniela Augenstein, a spokeswoman for Berlin's department of urban development, explained that each side historically used different streetlights. The lights themselves reflect another difference: The streetlamps used in West Germany were much more environmentally friendly, reflecting the emergence of the western German environmental civil movement in the 1970s and 1980s. At that time East Germany was still heavily polluting, and heavily reliant on coal. Today, eastern Germany is the heart of the country's renewable energy transformation. But viewed from space, the historic differences still define Berlin's nightly appearance.
Data reveal further cleavages between east and west.
(Source of the following 8 maps: German statistical office. Visualization: Gene Thorp/ The Washington Post)
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, formerly communist eastern German companies and factories suddenly had to compete with their much more efficient western counterparts. Capitalism came too fast. Many eastern German companies went bankrupt and some regions never recovered from the shock. Until today, income levels are much lower in the east than in the west.
Germany's unemployment rate made headlines when it hit a two-decade low this summer. But that rate is not evenly spread: former West German states still have far better employment levels than their eastern neighbors. That's in part because more young people have moved from rural eastern areas to the west, which has also decreased the amount of job-seeking eastern Germans.