German-speaking Europe

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The German language is spoken in a number of countries and territories in Europe. The language is used both as an official language and as a minority language in various European countries. To cover this speech area, they are often referred to as the German-speaking countries, the German-speaking area (Deutscher Sprachraum), or equivalently German-speaking Europe (the few overseas territories which speak German are not commonly included in the concept).

German is the main language of approximately 95 to 100 million people in Europe, or 13.3% of all Europeans, being the second most spoken native language in Europe after Russian (with 144 million speakers), above French (with 66.5 million) and English (with 64.2 million).

The European countries with German-speaking majorities are Germany (95%, 78.3 million), Austria (89%, 7.4 million) and Switzerland (65%, 4.6 million), also known as "D-A-CH" countries. Other European countries and regions with a German-speaking majority include Liechtenstein (0.03 million), and the Italian autonomous region of South-Tyrol (0.5 million).

There is an annual meeting of the heads of state of German-speaking countries including the Presidents of Germany, Austria and Switzerland and the Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein.[1] Since 2014 the King of Belgium and the Grand Duke of Luxembourg have also been taking part.


D-A-CH or DACH is an acronym used to represent the dominant states of the German language Sprachraum. It is based on the international vehicle registration codes for:

"Dach" is also the German word for "roof", and is used in linguistics in the term Dachsprache, which standard German arguably is in relation to some outlying dialects of German, especially in Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Austria.

The term is sometimes extended to D-A-CH-Li, DACHL or DACH+ to include Liechtenstein. Another version is DACHS (with Dachs meaning "Badger" in German) with the inclusion of the German-speaking region of South Tyrol in Italy.[2]

DACH is also the name of an Interreg IIIA project, which focuses on crossborder cooperation in planning.[3]

Official status[edit]

German as the official-auxiliary language in 22 municipalities on the Polish part of Silesia
Areas where German is an official language
Country Official status Area(s) where official Other national languages Notes
Austria National All European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) recognised languages are: Croatian, Hungarian, and Romani in Burgenland; Slovene in Carinthia and Styria; Czech, Hungarian, and Slovak in Vienna
Germany National All ECRML recognised languages are: Danish (in Schleswig-Holstein), Upper Sorbian (in the Free State of Saxony), Lower Sorbian (in Brandenburg), North Frisian (in Schleswig-Holstein), Saterland Frisian (in Lower Saxony), Romani (across Germany), Low German (in Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg, Northrhine-Westphalia and Saxony-Anhalt)
Liechtenstein National All
Luxembourg Official All Luxembourgish
Switzerland National, and 21 of 26 cantons See table French, Italian, Romansh See German-speaking Switzerland. As well as being one of four national languages at the federal level, German is sole official language in 17 cantons; one of two official languages in 3 cantons; one of three official languages in 1 canton.
Belgium 1 of 3 communities and 4 language areas German-speaking Community and language area French and Flemish The German-speaking Community comprises nine of the eleven "East Cantons" that form Eupen-Malmedy
Italy 1 of 100 Provinces South Tyrol Italian South Tyrol is one of two provinces in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region; unlike other provinces, they are autonomous.
Denmark 1 of 16 Counties South Jutland aka North Schleswig Danish See North Schleswig Germans. Counties were replaced by regions in 2006, but within the Region of Southern Denmark only the area of the former South Jutland county has retained German.
Poland 22 of 2,459 municipalities 22 municipalities mainly in Upper Silesia Polish See German minority in Poland. One of 16 listed ECRML languages
Czech Republic municipalities Czech See Germans in the Czech Republic. One of 4 listed ECRML languages
Slovakia Some of 2,891 municipalities Slovak One of 9 listed ECRML languages
Hungary Minority language Hungarian See Danube Swabians. One of 7 listed ECRML languages
Romania Minority language Romanian See Transylvanian Saxons and Banat Swabians. One of 20 listed ECRML languages
Bosnia and Herzegovina ECRML listed Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian One of 17 listed ECRML languages
Ukraine ECRML listed Ukrainian One of 13 listed ECRML languages

German-speaking minorities without official status[edit]

  • German-speaking minorities, but no official status:

remnants of former (before WW II) substantial minorities

former German colony, outside Europe

Owing to tourism and second-home colonies some areas around the Mediterranean Sea (like the Balearic Islands) have German-speaking communities.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]