The German Empire existed from 1871 to 1918, existing from the unification of Germany in 1871 by Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany at the end of World War I in 1918. The empire was formed in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War, and it succeeded the North German Confederation that had previously existed in the 1860s. The empire was centered around the dominant state of Prussia, inheriting its capital of Berlin and its military traditions. The empire unified the former German states and existed until the defeat of Germany by the Triple Entente in 1918 in World War I, and the November Revolution forced Kaiser Wilhelm to abdicate, followed by the establishment of the Weimar Republic.
In 1871, Germany had a population of 7,690,000 people, with 90.9% being North Germans, 7.5% Poles, and 1.5% others. 78.9% of the population was Protestant and 20.9% Catholic, with the Protestants living in the north and east of the country, while the Catholics lived in the south and west of the country.