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 with a German-speaking majority include Luxembourg (0.48 million) and Liechtenstein (0.03 million), and the Italian autonomous region of South-Tyrol (0.5 million).


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.[1]

DACH is also the name of an Interreg IIIA project, which focuses on crossborder cooperation in planning.[2]

Official status[edit]

Official language Majority language Partially official
Switzerland (besides French and Italian)
Luxembourg (besides French and Luxembourgish)
Denmark - recognized minority language in the former South Jutland County
South Tyrol in Italy
Poland - a minority language in the Upper Silesia
Czech Republic (communally)
Hungary (Danube Swabians)
Romania (Transylvania and Banat Swabians)
Slovakia (communally)
German as the official-auxiliary language in 22 municipalities on the Polish part of Silesia
  • German is the country's only official language:
  • German is the majority language, and shares official status with other languages:
    • Luxembourg (besides French and Luxembourgish)
    • Switzerland (besides French and Italian; however, the official language of a region is decided by the canton in particular)
  • German is a minority language with official status:

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]