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German Facts & Figures


  • 105 million native speakers, 80 million non-native speakers
  • Germany (where it is the first language for more than 95% of the population), Austria (89%), 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 Alsace region which often was traded between Germany and France in history, and in some border villages of the former South Jutland County (in German, Nordschleswig, in Danish, Sønderjylland) of Denmark. German-speaking communities can still be found in parts of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Russia and Kazakhstan. German is also spoken by foreign populations and some of their descendants in Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, 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. German Americans form the largest self-reported ancestry group in the United States, outnumbering the Irish and English.
  • Additionally, German-speaking communities can be found in the former German colony of Namibia independent from South Africa since 1990. German Namibians retain German educational institutions.
  • In Brazil the largest concentrations of German speakers are in Rio Grande do Sul (where Riograndenser Hunsrückisch was developed), Santa Catarina, Paraná, São Paulo and Espírito Santo. Nearly all inhabitants of the city of Pomerode in the state of Santa Catarina in Brazil can speak German. There are also German-speaking descendant communities in countries such as Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Paraguay, and Venezuela, and reportedly there is a small German immigration to Puerto Rico.
  • The United States has one of the largest concentrations of German speakers outside Europe. German in the U.S. is the fifth most spoken language at home (~ 1.4 million) after English, Spanish, Chinese, and French according to the 2000 U.S. Census. The states of North Dakota and South Dakota are the only states where German is the most common language spoken at home after English. Over the course of the 20th century many of the descendants of 18th- and 19th-century immigrants ceased speaking German at home, but small populations of elderly (as well as some younger) speakers can be found in Pennsylvania (Amish, Hutterites, Dunkards and some Mennonites historically spoke Hutterite German and a West Central German variety of Pennsylvania Dutch), Kansas (Mennonites and Volga Germans), North Dakota (Hutterite Germans, Mennonites, Russian Germans, Volga Germans, and Baltic Germans), South Dakota, Montana, Texas (Texas German), Wisconsin, Indiana, Oregon, Louisiana and Oklahoma. A significant group of German Pietists in Iowa formed the Amana Colonies and continue to practice speaking their heritage language. Early twentieth century immigration was often to St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
  • In Canada, there are 622,650 speakers of German according to the most recent census in 2006, while people of German ancestry (German Canadians) are found throughout the country. German-speaking communities are particularly found in British Columbia (118,035) and Ontario (230,330). There is a large and vibrant community in the city of Kitchener, Ontario. German immigrants were instrumental in the country's three largest urban areas: Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. In the first half of the 20th century, over a million German-Canadians made the language Canada's third most spoken after French and English.
  • In Mexico there are also large populations of German ancestry, mainly in the cities of Mexico City, Puebla, Mazatlán, Tapachula, and larger populations scattered in the states of Chihuahua, Durango, and Zacatecas. German ancestry is also said to be found in neighboring towns around Guadalajara, Jalisco and much of Northern Mexico. Standard German is spoken by the affluent German communities in Puebla, Mexico City, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí and Quintana Roo.
  • In Australia, the state of South Australia experienced a pronounced wave of Germans arriving in the 1840s from Prussia (particularly the Silesia region). With the prolonged isolation from other German speakers and contact with Australian English some have suggested a unique dialect formed known as Barossa German spoken predominantly in the Barossa Valley near Adelaide. Usage sharply declined with the advent of World War I, and by now its use is limited to a few older speakers.
  • There is also an important German creole being studied and recovered, named Unserdeutsch, spoken in the former German colony of Papua New Guinea, across Micronesia and in northern Australia (i.e. coastal parts of Queensland and Western Australia), by a few elderly people.
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