Most of Germany has a temperate seasonal climate in which humid westerly winds predominate. The climate is moderated by the North Atlantic Drift, which is the northern extension of the Gulf Stream. This warmer water affects the areas bordering the North Sea including the peninsula of Jutland and the area along the Rhine, which flows into the North Sea. Consequently in the north-west and the north, the climate is oceanic; rainfall occurs year round with a maximum during summer. Winters are mild and summers tend to be cool, though temperatures can exceed 30 °C for prolonged periods. In the east, the climate is more continental; winters can be very cold, summers can be very warm, and long dry periods are often recorded. Central and Southern Germany are transition regions which vary from moderately oceanic to continental. Again, the maximum temperature can exceed 30 °C in summer.
With a land area of 357 022 km² the Federal Republic of Germany is the fifth biggest European country. The country lies in the heart of Europe and is surrounded by nine neighbouring countries. In the north, Germany borders on Denmark, in the west on the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and France. Switzerland and Austria are Germany's southern neighbours. In the east, the country borders on the Czech Republic and Poland.
In the south, a small part of the Alpine mountain range is on German territory. This is where the 'Zugspitze', Germany's highest mountain peak, reaches an altitude of 2962 m. Moreover, there are a couple of medium-range mountains which characterize the scenery of central and southern Germany. The north of the country is dominated by the Northern German Plain. Off the German North Sea coast lie the Northern and Eastern Frisian Islands such as Borkum, Norderney, Sylt and Helgoland. Rügen, Hiddensee and Fehmarn are islands in the Baltic Sea.
At 865 km, the Rhine is the longest German river. The Danube boasts a total length of 2852 km, but only 686 km of these flow through the Federal Republic of Germany.