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Administrative structure and socio-demographic info

It takes a while to understand how Berlin "functions" as a city. Unlike most other major cities it does not have one central district or a city centre. This is partly due to the city having been split into East and West for several decades. But even historically, meaning before the wall, there were several different "hot spots".

Since the reform of 2001 Berlin now consists of only 12 administrative districts. The 23 districts that existed before the reform have been grouped together into larger districts.
Although the "new" districts are more homogenous in regards to population size and are seemingly comparable, this is only half the truth. The districts vary greatly both in terms of area and social structure. The result of this reorganisation has been a reduction in homogeneity. This is particularly true for the districts where a former eastern and a former western district have been combined.

See the map below showing the pre-2001 scenario to get an understanding of the layout of Berlin and where the wall divided the city (orange line):
A good example is the new district "Mitte" which now consists of the former districts "Mitte", "Tiergarten" and "Wedding". The old district of "Mitte", located in former East Berlin, is the historical centre of Berlin encompassing most of the major tourist sites. "Wedding" on the other hand is a former West Berlin working class neighbourhood with a high level of immigrant population. These two districts don't have a lot in common. Nevertheless both are referred to as "Mitte" these days.

Even the "old" districts are further subdivided for administrative purposes. The new "Tiergarten"-district for example consists of "Tiergarten", "Moabit" and "Hansaviertel", each one a very distinct neighbourhood.
This demonstrates how important a good understanding of the social and geographical patterns of Berlin are if you want to understand and perhaps further predict the dynamics of this city.

The following table shows some figures regarding the area size, population density and percentage of immigrant population. These three factors could be taken as indicators to best distinguish the different characters of the Berlin districts.
District Area (km²) Population
(Nov. 2006)
Density (people/km²) Unemployment rate (in % (date)) % Immigrant population
Mitte 39.47 326,500 8.3 20.1 (05/2007) 28.2
Friedrichshain - Kreuzberg 20.16 265,843 13.2 19.8 (05/2007) 23.1
Pankow 103.01 358,073 3.5 14.4 (08/2006) 6.4
Charlottenburg - Wilmersdorf 64.72 315,702 4.9 - 18.2
Spandau 91.91 224,342 2.4 17.6 (05/2007) 10.5
Steglitz - Zehlendorf 102.50 288,848 2.8 11.4 (05/2007) 10.3
Tempelhof - Schöneberg 53.09 332,140 3.5 - 6.4
Neukölln 44.93 305,691 6.8 23.1 (03/2007) 22,0
Marzahn - Hellersdorf 61.74 249,802 4.0 17.5 (02/2007) 3.3
Lichtenberg 52.29 258,944 4.9 - 7.7
Reinickendorf 89.46 242,652 2.7 16.2 (12/2005) 9.5
The numbers alone, however, only show parts of the Berlin reality. They don't explain why some districts are more sought after than others despite having comparable figures. For example the "old" districts of Wedding and Kreuzberg have similar population densities and percentages of immigrant population, however one is relatively dynamic while the other is not. In those cases additional "soft knowledge" is necessary to explain the dynamic.

This demonstrates that a good understanding of the city is vital for your success if you want to invest in Berlin!
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