History of the German Language

The German language is considered one of the major languages of the world, although it lacks the global distribution of other languages such as English and French. While it may not have the global reach of other languages, German is the most widely spoken first language among the 27 member European Union. There are an estimated 100 million individuals who speak the German language as a native tongue.

German is spoken most heavily as a first language within central Europe, beginning in Germany itself and extending to several neighboring countries. German is the official language of Germany where 95% of the population speaks the language as their native tongue. Austria and Switzerland boast the next highest concentrations of native German speakers with 89% and 65% of their populations, respectively, speaking German. Other major German language communities exist in the following areas within Europe:
  • South Tyrolia in Northern Italy
  • East Cantons of Belgium
  • Alsace and Lorraine regions of France
  • Small villages in the former South Jutland County in Denmark

Outside of Europe the German language's popularity does not match that of other major languages such as English and French, but that does not dampen its reach around the globe. The largest number of German language speaking individuals outside of Europe resides in the United States where an estimated five million individuals speak German at home. Other German language speaking communities are found in parts of the following countries:

  • Brazil
  • Argentina
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • South Africa
  • Namibia