Julius Caesar is generally considered the first to refer to the area of Germany as a distinct region; he called the unconquered region east of the Rhine "Germania." Otto I would later become the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, the medieval German state. It was not until after the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars that feudalism gave way to nationalism and liberalism--but not without conflict. The Industrial Revolution modernized Germany's economy, and by 1900 its economy match that of Great Britain. But the Great Depression and the World Wars hit Germany hard, and recovery took decades. The formation of a new alliance with France eventually led to the formation of the European Union, and Germany is again an economic force in Europe.

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