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Berlin was divided up between Russia and the allies after the second world war. East Berlin became the capital of the GDR (East Germany), while West Berlin remained a West German enclave surrounded by the Berlin Wall from 1961-1989. Following the reunification in 1990, the city regained its status as the capital of all Germany.

The city has seen major investments and rebuilding efforts since 1990. Berlin was devastated by bombing raids during World War II and many of the old buildings that escaped the bombs were eradicated in the 1950s and 1960s in both West and East. Much of this destruction was initiated by municipal architecture programmes to build new residential or business quarters and main roads. Berlin's unique recent history has left the city with an eclectic array of architecture and sights. Neighbourhoods still reveal whether one is in the former eastern or western part of the city. In the eastern part, many Plattenbauten can be found, reminders of Eastern Bloc ambitions to create complete residential areas with fixed ratios of shops, kindergartens (nurseries) and schools. Another difference between former east and west is in the design of little red and green men on pedestrian crossing lights (Ampelmännchen in German); the eastern versions received an opt-out during the standardisation of road traffic signs after reunification and have survived to become a popular icon in tourist products.

The Brandenburg Gate is a world-wide known symbol of Berlin, and nowadays of Germany. It also appears on German euro coins. The Reichstag building is the traditional seat of the German Parliament, renovated in the 1950s after severe World War II damage. The building was again remodelled by British architect Norman Foster in the 1990s and features a glass dome over the session area, which is open to the public free of charge. The Fernsehturm (television tower) at Alexanderplatz in Berlin Mitte (formerly in the east) is the highest building in the city at 368 metres. Built in 1969 it is visible throughout most of the central districts of Berlin. The city can be viewed from its 204 metre high observation floor.

Public transport within Berlin is provided by the S-Bahn (over ground urban train), the U-Bahn (under ground train), the Straßenbahn (tram operating almost exclusively in the eastern part of the city) and buses. Almost all means of public transport can be accessed with the same ticket. Berlin has three commercial airports—Tegel International Airport (TXL), Tempelhof International Airport (THF), and Schönefeld International Airport (SXF). Schönefeld lies just outside Berlin's south-eastern border in the state of Brandenburg, while the other two airports lie within the city.

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