German language

Spoken in Primarily in German-speaking Europe, as a minority language and amongst the German diaspora worldwide
Total speakers Native speakers: ca. 120 million[1][2]
Non-native speakers: ca. 80 million[1]
Ranking 10
Language family Indo-European
Writing system Latin alphabet (German variant)
Official status
Official language in  European Union
(official and working language)
 Italy (Province of Bolzano-Bozen)
Recognised minority language in  Czech Republic[3]
 Namibia (National language; official language 1984–90)[7][8]
 Poland (Auxiliary language in 22 municipalities in Opole Voivodeship)[9]
 Slovakia (Official municipal language of Krahule/Blaufuß)[1][12]
 Vatican City (Administrative and commanding language of the Swiss Guard)[13]
Regulated by No official regulation
(German orthography regulated by the Council for German Orthography (Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung)[14]).
Language codes
ISO 639-1 de
ISO 639-2 ger (B)  deu (T)
ISO 639-3 variously:
deu – New High German
gmh – Middle High German
goh – Old High German
gct – Alemán Coloniero
bar – Austro-Bavarian
cim – Cimbrian
geh – Hutterite German
ksh – Kölsch
nds – Low German
sli – Lower Silesian
ltz – Luxembourgish
vmf – Main-Franconian
mhn – Mócheno
pfl – Palatinate German
pdc – Pennsylvania German
pdt – Plautdietsch
swg – Swabian German
gsw – Swiss German
uln – Unserdeutsch
sxu – Upper Saxon
wae – Walser German
wep – Westphalian

Nations where German is spoken.
  Official language
  Widely spoken and understood and/or National language
  Spoken in a regional level

German (Deutsch ) is a West Germanic language, thus related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. It is one of the world's major languages and the most widely spoken first language in the European Union. Globally, German is spoken by approximately 120 million native speakers and also by about 80 million non-native speakers. Standard German is widely taught in schools, universities and Goethe Institutes worldwide.


German is primarily spoken in Germany (where it is the first language for more than 95% of the population), Austria (89%) and Switzerland (65%). German is also spoken by the majority of the populations of Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.

Other European German-speaking communities are found in Northern Italy (in the Province of Bolzano-Bozen and in some municipalities in other provinces), in the East Cantons of Belgium, in the French regions of Alsace and Lorraine, and in some border villages of the former South Jutland County (in German, Nordschleswig, in Danish, Sønderjylland) of Denmark.

German-speaking communities can also be found in parts of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Russia and Kazakhstan. In Russia, forced expulsions after World War II and massive emigration to Germany in the 1980s and 1990s have depopulated most of these communities. German is also spoken by foreign populations and some of their descendants in Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Morocco, Netherlands, Portugal, Scandinavia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.


Outside of Europe and the former Soviet Union, the largest German-speaking communities are to be found in the United States, Canada, Brazil and in Argentina where millions of Germans migrated in the last 200 years; but the vast majority of their descendants no longer speak German. German Americans form the largest self-reported ancestry group in the United States, outnumbering the Irish and English.[15] Additionally, German-speaking communities can be found in the former German colony of Namibia independent from South Africa since 1990, as well as in the other countries of German emigration such as Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Venezuela (where the dialect Alemán Coloniero developed), South Africa and Australia. In Namibia, German Namibians retain German educational institutions.

South America

In Brazil the largest concentrations of German speakers are in Rio Grande do Sul (where Riograndenser Hunsrückisch developed), Santa Catarina, Paraná, São Paulo and Espírito Santo. There are also important concentrations of German-speaking descendants in Argentina (5 million), Venezuela, Paraguay and Chile (3 million). In the 20th century, over 100,000 German political refugees and invited entrepreneurs settled in Latin America, in countries such as Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic, to establish German-speaking enclaves, and reportedly there is a small German immigration to Puerto Rico. Nearly all inhabitants of the city of Pomerode in the state of Santa Catarina in Brazil can speak German.