German diaspora

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The German diaspora consists of German people and their descendants who live outside of Germany. The term is used in particular to refer to the aspects of migration of German speakers from Central Europe to different countries around the world. This definition describes the "German" term as a sociolinguistic group as opposed to the national one since the emigrant groups came from different regions with diverse cultural practices and different varieties of German. For instance, the Alsatians and Hessians were simply called Germans once they set foot in their new homelands.[citation needed]


Volksdeutsche ("ethnic Germans") is a historical term which arose in the early 20th century and was used by the Nazis to describe ethnic Germans, without German citizenship, living outside of Nazi Germany, although many had been in other areas for centuries. During World War II, Hitler forbade the use of the term because it was being used in a derogatory way against the many ethnic Germans in the SS. It is used by many historians who either deliberately or innocently are unaware of its Nazi history.

Auslandsdeutsche (adj. auslandsdeutsch) is a concept that connotes German citizens, regardless of which ethnicity, living abroad, or alternatively ethnic Germans entering Germany from abroad. Today, this means a citizen of Germany living more or less permanently in another country (including expatriates such as long-term academic exchange lecturers and the like), who are allowed to vote in the Republic's elections, but who usually do not pay taxes to Germany but in their resident states. In a looser but still valid sense, and in general discourse, the word is frequently used in lieu of the ideologically tainted term Volksdeutsche, denoting persons living abroad without German citizenship but defining themselves as Germans (culturally or ethnically speaking).


Map of the German diaspora in the world by population:
  + 10,000,000
  + 1,000,000
  + 100,000
  + 10,000

Ethnic Germans are a minority group in many countries. (See Germans, German language, and German as a minority language for more extensive numbers and a better sense of where Germans maintain German culture and have official recognition.) The following sections briefly detail the historical and present distribution of ethnic Germans by region, but generally exclude modern expatriates, who have a presence in the United States, Scandinavia and major urban areas worldwide. See Groups at bottom for a list of all ethnic German groups, or continue for a summary by region.

In the United States census of 1990, 57 million people identified as being fully or partly of German ancestry, forming the largest single ethnic group in the country[note 1] as well as the largest population of Germans outside of Germany. According to the United States Ancestry Census of 2009, there were 50,764,352 people of German descent in the U.S.[1] People of German ancestry form an important minority group in several countries, including Canada (roughly 10% of the population), Argentina (roughly 8% of the population),[2][failed verification] Brazil (roughly 3% of the population),[3] Australia (roughly 4.5% of the population),[4] Chile (roughly 3% of the population),[5] Colombia (roughly 3% of the population),[6] Namibia, and in central and eastern Europe—(Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Russia).

Distribution of German citizens and people claiming German ancestry (figures are only estimates and actual population could be higher, because of wrongly[vague] formulated questions in censuses in various countries (for example in Poland)[7] and other different factors, f.e. related to participant in a census):

Country German ancestry German citizens Comments
 United States 46,882,727 (2012) (almost all German Americans come from Germany)[8][note 2] 132,000 [2](2019) see German American; the largest German population outside Germany.
 Brazil 12,000,000 (2000)[9] 13,500 [3][failed verification] see German Brazilian; the second largest German population outside Germany.
 Argentina 3,500,000 (majority come from Russia and Germany)[10][11][12] 50,000[11] see German Argentine.
 Canada 3,203,330 (2011) (majority come from Germany)[13] 146,000 see German Canadian.
 Colombia 1,560,000 (3% of the population)[6] 9,668 (2011)[14] see German Colombian.
 South Africa 1,200,000 (2009)[15][16][note 3] 17,000 [4] see Afrikaners/Germans in South Africa.
 Australia 1,026,138 (2021)[17] 107,940 see German Australian.
 France 1,000,000 (2010)[18][19][note 4] 130,000 [5] see Alsace and Lorraine.
 Chile 500,000[20] 8,515 see German Chilean.
 Russia 394,138 (2010) (majority come from Prussia) 142,000 [6] see Germans in Russia, Volga Germans, Caucasus Germans, Black Sea Germans and Crimea Germans.
 Bolivia 375,000 (2014)[21] see Ethnic Germans in Bolivia.
 Netherlands 372,720 (2013)[22][23] 79,470 [7]
 Italy 314,604 (2011)[24][note 5] 35,000 [8] see German-Italian relations
 United Kingdom 273,654 (2011)[25][note 6] 92,000[26] see German migration to the United Kingdom.
 Paraguay 290,000 (2000) (majority come from Brazil)[27]
 Guyana 13,000 (majority come from Russia and Germany)[28][11][12] 15,000[11] Germans living in Guyana
 Peru 240,000[29] see German Peruvian
 Switzerland see note[note 7] 450,000 see German immigration to Switzerland and Swiss people.
 Kazakhstan 178,409 (2009)[30]
see Germans in Kazakhstan.
 Spain 138,917 (2014)[31] 112,000 [9] see Germany-Spain relations
 Poland 148,000 (2011)[32] 120,000 see German minority in Poland.
 Hungary 131,951 (2011)[33] 178,000 see Germans of Hungary.
 Austria see note[note 8] 170,475[34] see Austrians.
 Israel 100,000[35] see Sarona (colony), German Colony, Haifa and German Colony, Jerusalem
 Mexico 75,000 including those of partial ancestry Burchard, Gretha (abril de 2010). [36] see German Mexican
 Belgium 73,000 (2008)[note 9] 29,324 [10] (Recognized) see German-speaking Community of Belgium.
 Romania c. 22,900 (as per the 2021 Romanian census)[37] 34,071 (according to Eurostat)[38] see Germans of Romania (e.g. Transylvanian Saxons, Banat Swabians, Sathmar Swabians, Bukovina Germans, or Zipser Germans).
 Uruguay 250,000 (2014)[39] 6,000[40]
 Czech Republic 18,772 (2011)[41] 21,267 Germans in the Czech Republic see Germans in the Czech Republic.
 Norway 25,000 (2012)[42] 10,000 [43] see Germany-Norway relations
 Ecuador [citation needed]
 Ukraine 33,302 (2001) see Black Sea Germans and Crimea Germans.
 Namibia 30,000 (2013)[44] see German Namibian.
 Dominican Republic 25,000[45] 1,792 (2012)[46]
 Denmark 15,000[47][48] 15,000 [11] see North Schleswig Germans.
 Greece 15,498[49] see Greece-Germany relations.
 Cuba 12,387 see German Cuban
 India 10,000-12,000 see Germans in India
 Ireland 10,000 (2006)[50] 11,305[51]
 Belize 10,865 (2010)[52] see Mennonites in Belize.
 Slovakia 5,000–10,000[53] see Carpathian Germans, Zipser Germans
 Kyrgyzstan 8,563 (2014) see Germans in Kyrgyzstan.
 Philippines 6,400[54] see German settlement in the Philippines.
 Ghana [citation needed]
 Serbia 4,064 (2011) 850 (2016)[55] see Germans of Serbia.
 Croatia 2,965 (2011)[56] see Germans of Croatia.
 Turkmenistan [citation needed]
 Tajikistan [citation needed]
 Estonia 1,544 (2011)
 Liechtenstein see note[note 10] see Liechtensteiners.
 Luxembourg see note[note 11] 12,000 see Luxembourgers.
 Latvia 4,975 (2014)
 Lithuania 2,418 (2011)
 Finland 8,894 (2019)[57] 4,102 (2018)[58] Germans in Finland
 Iceland 842 (2013)
 Portugal 16,041 (2020)[59]
 Sweden 115,550 (2013)[60] 20,000 [12] see Germany–Sweden relations
 New Zealand 12,810 (2013)[61] see German New Zealander.
 Costa Rica 10,000
 Venezuela see German Venezuelan.
 Guatemala Unknown number of individuals of German descent[62] 7,000-10,000 (2010)[63] see German Guatemalan
 Nicaragua Unknown number of individuals of German descent see German Nicaraguan.
 Jamaica Unknown number of individuals of German descent 300 see Germans in Jamaica.


German language area in 1910–11, the boundaries of states are in red. Pan-German nationalists wanted to unite much of the green areas into one German nation-state.

Alpine nations[edit]

Ethnic Germans in Hungary and parts of adjacent Austrian territories, census 1890

Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein each have a German-speaking majority, though the vast majority of the population do not identify themselves as German anymore. Austrians historically were identified as and considered themselves Germans until after the defeat of Nazi Germany and the end of World War II. Post-1945 a broader Austrian national identity began to emerge, and over 90% of the Austrians now see themselves as an independent nation.[64][65][66]

East-Central Europe[edit]

Aside from the Germans who migrated to other parts of Europe, the German diaspora also covered the Eastern and Central European states such as Croatia, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, along with several post-Soviet states. There has been a continued historical presence of Germans in these regions due to the interrelated processes of conquest and colonization as well as migration and border changes.[67] During the periods of colonization, for instance, there was an influx of Germans who came to Bohemia and parts of Romania as colonizers. Settlements due to border changes were largely 20th century developments caused by the new political order after the two world wars.[67]

Baltic states[edit]


In Belgium, there is an ethnic German minority. It is the majority in its region of 71,000 inhabitants. Ethnologue puts the national total of German speakers at 150,000, not including Limburgish and Luxembourgish.


Czech Republic and Slovakia[edit]

Before World War II, some 30% of the population in Czechia (historically known as Bohemia) were ethnic Germans, and in the border regions and certain other areas they were in the majority.[68] There are about 40,000 Germans in the Czech Republic (number of Czechs who have at least partly German ancestry probably runs into the hundreds of thousands).[69] Their number has been consistently decreasing since World War II. According to the 2001 census, there remain 13 municipalities and settlements in Czech Republic with more than 10% Germans.

The situation in Slovakia was different from that in Czech Republic, in that the number of Germans was considerably lower and that the Germans from Slovakia were almost completely evacuated to German states as the Soviet army was moving west through Slovakia, and only a fraction of those who returned to Slovakia after the end of the war were deported with the Germans from the Czech lands.

Many representatives of expellee organizations support the erection of bilingual signs in all formerly German-speaking territory as a visible sign of the bilingual linguistic and cultural heritage of the region. The erection of bilingual signs is permitted if a minority constitutes 10% of the population.


In Denmark, the part of Schleswig that is now South Jutland County (or Northern Schleswig) is inhabited by about 12,000–20,000 ethnic Germans[70] They speak mainly Standard German and South Jutlandic. A few speak Schleswigsch, a Northern Low Saxon dialect.


Prior to World War II, approximately 1.5 million Danube Swabians lived in Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia.[71] Today the German minority in Hungary have minority rights, organisations, schools and local councils, but spontaneous assimilation is well under way. Many of the deportees visited their old homes after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1990. Around 178,000 Germans live in Hungary.


Map of Austria-Hungary in 1911, showing areas inhabited by ethnic Germans in pink

There are smaller, unique populations of Germans who arrived so long ago that their dialect retains many archaic features heard nowhere else: the Cimbrians are concentrated in various communities in the Carnic Alps, north of Verona, and especially in the Sugana Valley on the high plateau northwest of Vicenza in the Veneto region; the Walsers, who originated in the Swiss Wallis, live in the provinces of Aostatal, Vercelli, and Verbano-Cusio-Ossola; the Mòchenos live in the Fersina Valley. Smaller German-speaking communities also exist in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region: the Carinthians in the Canale Valley (municipalities of Tarvisio, Malborghetto Valbruna and Pontebba) and the Zahren and Timau Germans in Carnia.

Contrarily to the before-mentioned minorities, the German-speaking population of the province of South Tyrol cannot be categorized as "ethnic German" according to the definition of this article, but as Austrian minority. However, as Austrian saw themselves as ethnic Germans until the end of World War II they can technically also be called Germans.[72] The province was part of the Austrian County of Tyrol before the 1919 dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. South Tyrolians were part of the over 3 million German speaking Austrians who in 1918 found themselves living outside of the newborn Austrian Republic as minorities in the newly formed or enlarged respective states of Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Italy. Their dialect is Austro-Bavarian German. Both standard German and dialect are used in schooling and media. German enjoys co-official status with the national language of Italian throughout this region.

Germans have been present in the Iglesiente mining region in the south west of Sardinia since the 13th century.[73] Successively since 1850 groups of specialised workers from Styria, Austria, followed by German miners from Freiburg settled in the same area. Some Germans influenced building and toponym is still visible in this area.[74][75]


In Norway, there are 27,770 Germans making them the ninth largest ethnic minority in the country, thus constituting 0.52% of Norway's total population, and 2.94% of all foreign residents in Norway.[76] Immigration from Germany to Norway has occurred on since the Middle Ages. There have been many Germans who migrated to Bergen during the Middle Ages and also during Norway's union with Denmark. During the Union with Denmark, a lot of German miners migrated to the town of Kongsberg.[77] As of 2020, there are 1,446 Germans in the city of Bergen, making up 0.51% of the total population, and in the town of Kongsberg there are 114 Germans, making up 0.41% of the total population respectively. The city with the biggest population of Germans is Oslo. 3,743 Germans live in the city, thereby making up 0.55% of the total population.[78] Germany is also the country that sends the most foreign exchange students to Norway, in 2016, 1,570 exchange students came to Norway from Germany.[79]


German minority in Poland, 1925

The remaining German minority in Poland (109,000 people were registered in the 2011 census[80]) enjoys minority rights according to Polish minority law. There are German speakers throughout Poland, and most of the Germans live in the Opole Voivodeship in Silesia. Bilingual signs are posted in some towns of the region. In addition, there are bilingual schools and German can be used instead of Polish in dealings with officials in several towns.


As of 2022, according to the 2021 Romanian census (postponed one year because of the COVID-19 pandemic), there were circa 22,900 ethnic Germans recorded in Romania.

Since the High Middle Ages, the territory of present-day Romania has been continuously inhabited by German-speaking groups, firstly by Transylvanian Saxons then, gradually, by other immigrant groups of ethnic German origin. They are all politically represented by the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (FDGR/DFDR).


During the 11th century, Sweden was visited by missionaries from Germany. During the Middle Ages, Hanseatic merchants had a great influence on Swedish trade and also the Swedish language. According to a survey, the proportion of German loanwords in Swedish is 24–30 percent (slightly depending on how you calculate). During the period of great power, a number of German congregations were formed in Sweden. Including Karlskrona German parish, which then became part of Karlskrona Admiralty parish. Today, there are two more active German congregations in Sweden. They are part of the parishes of the Church of Sweden, the German Christinae parish and the German St. Gertrude's parish consists of German citizens or Swedes of German origin. In connection with the two world wars, several German children of war came to Sweden. Between the late 1940s and early 1990s, many East German refugees also came to Sweden. On 31 December 2014, there were 49,359 people in Sweden who were born in Germany, of whom 23,195 were men (47.0%) and 26,164 women (53.0%).[citation needed] The corresponding figure for 31 December 2000 was 38,155, of which 16,965 men (44.5%) and 21,190 women (55.5%).[citation needed]There were 28,172 people in Sweden with German citizenship.[citation needed] In 2019, according to Statistics Sweden, German immigrants together with the Chinese were the most highly educated who migrate to Sweden, with a proportion of 70 per cent who are highly educated, which is well above the average for Sweden's population which is 30 per cent.[citation needed] Around 29,505 German Citizens living in Sweden in 2020.


In France over 100,000 German nationals residing in the French country (the exact number is not known, some statistics indicate more than 300,000 Germans in France but are not officially sanctioned.) There, the Germans live mainly in the northeastern area of France, i.e., in regions close to the Franco-German border (i.e. Alsace), and the island of Corsica.

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, a German-Briton ethnic group of around 300,000 exists. Some are descended from nineteenth-century immigrants. Others are 20th-century immigrants and their descendants, and World War II prisoners of war held in Great Britain who decided to stay there. Others arrived as spouses of English soldiers from post-war marriages in Germany, when the British were occupying forces. Many of the more recent immigrants have settled in the London and southeast part of England, in particular, Richmond (South West London).

The British Royal Family are partially descended from German monarchs.

Due to Brexit, the number of Germans in the UK has declined significantly, in 2021 there were only 135,000 Germans in the UK.[81]


Examples of German language signage in Namibia

During the long decline of the Roman Empire and the ensuing great migrations Germanic tribes such as the Vandals (who sacked Rome) migrated into North Africa and settled mainly in the lands corresponding to modern Tunisia and northeastern Algeria. While it is likely that some of the people living there at present are descended from these Germanic peoples, they did not leave visible cultural traces.


The first German trading post in the Duala area on the Kamerun River delta was established in 1868 by the Hamburg trading company C. Woermann. The firm's agent in Gabon, Johannes Thormählen, expanded activities to the Kamerun River delta. In 1874, together with the Woermann agent in Liberia, Wilhelm Jantzen, the two merchants founded their own company, Jantzen & Thormählen there. At the outbreak of World War I, French, Belgian and British troops invaded the German colony in 1914 and fully occupied it during the Kamerun campaign. The last German fort to surrender was the one at Mora in the north of the colony in 1916. Following Germany's defeat, the Treaty of Versailles divided the territory into two League of Nations mandates (Class B) under the administration of Great Britain and France. French Cameroun and part of British Cameroons reunified in 1961 as Cameroon, though some Germans still remain in Cameroon.


Germany was not as involved in colonizing Africa as other major European powers of the 20th century, and lost its overseas colonies, including German East Africa and German South West Africa, after World War I. Similarly to those in Latin America, the Germans in Africa tended to isolate themselves and were more self-sufficient than other Europeans. In Namibia there are 30,000 ethnic Germans, though it is estimated that only a third of those retain the language. Most German-speakers live in the capital, Windhoek, and in smaller towns such as Swakopmund and Lüderitz, where German architecture is highly visible.

South Africa[edit]

In South Africa, a number of Afrikaners and Boers are of partial German ancestry, being the descendants of German immigrants who intermarried with Dutch settlers and adopted Afrikaans as their mother tongue. Professor JA Heese in his book Die Herkoms van die Afrikaner (The Origins of Afrikaners) claims the modern Afrikaners (who total around 3.5 million) have 34.4% German ancestry.[82]

Germans also emigrated to South Africa during the 1850s and 1860s, and settled in the Eastern Cape area around Stutterheim, and in Kwazulu-Natal in the Wartburg area, where there is still a large German-speaking community.[83] Mostly originating from different waves of immigration during the 19th and 20th centuries, an estimated 12,000 people speak German or a German variety as a first language in South Africa.[84] Germans settled quite extensively in South Africa, with many Calvinists immigrating from Northern Europe. Later on, more Germans settled in the KwaZulu-Natal and elsewhere. Here, one of the largest communities are the speakers of "Nataler Deutsch", a variety of Low German, who are concentrated in and around Wartburg. German is slowly disappearing elsewhere, but a number of communities still have a large number of speakers and some even have German language schools. Around 17 000 German Nationals lived in South Africa in 2020


When mainland Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi were under German control they were named German East Africa and received some migration from German communities. After Tanganyika and Ruanda-Urundi became British and Belgian mandates following Germany's defeat in World War I, some of these communities remained. There is a small community of Germans remaining in Tanzania.[citation needed]

North America[edit]

Map of the USA
Counties where German ancestry (light blue) is the plurality in the United States, 2000
Map of Canada
People who have self-identified as having German ancestors are the plurality in many parts of the Prairie provinces (areas coloured in grey).

In the United States are ca. 160,000 German Citizens Registered.

  • Belize: 5,763 Mennonite Low-German speakers.
  • Canada (3.3 million, 9,6% of the population), see also German Canadians.
  • Mexico: See German immigration to Mexico, 22% of Mennonites also speak Low German which is not Standard German but derived from Old Saxon, 30% speak Spanish, 5% speak English and 5% speak Russian as a second language.[85] Sources estimate that there are around 15,000 German citizens and Mexicans of German-citizen origin account for about 75,000 today.[86] Also of note, the 'Colegio Alemán Alexander von Humboldt', or Alexander von Humboldt school in Mexico City is the largest German school outside Germany.
  • In the United States, "German" has been the largest self-identified ancestry group since 1990. There are around 50 million Americans of at least partial German ancestry in the United States, or 17% of the U.S. population, the country's largest self-reported ancestral group.[87] including various groups such as the Pennsylvania Dutch. Of these, 23 million are of German ancestry alone ("single ancestry"), and another 27 million are of partial German ancestry, making them the largest group in the United States, followed by the Irish. Of those who claim partial ancestry, 22 million identify their primary ancestry ("first ancestry") as German. The 22 million Americans of primarily German ancestry are by far the largest part of the German diaspora, a figure equal to over a quarter of the population of Germany itself. Germans form just under half the population in the Upper Midwest.[88][89]
  • Central America: In 1940, there were 16,000 Germans living in Central America; half of them in Guatemala, and most of the remainder were established in Costa Rica.[90]

South America[edit]

German population in Southern Brazil:
  Less than 1% of population (Uruguay)
  Between 1 – 5% of population (State of São Paulo)
  Between 5 – 10% of population (State of Paraná)
  Between 10 – 25% of population (State of Rio Grande do Sul)
  Around 35% of population (State of Santa Catarina)
Mennonites in San Ignacio, Paraguay
  • Argentina: Those of German ancestry constitute about 8% of the Argentine population — over 3 million — most of them Volga Germans alone — about 2 million.[2] There are more than 400,000 of other German ancestries including Mennonites and German Swiss. These two groups are more common in Southern Argentina, and also in Santa Fe, Entre Rios and Cordoba provinces. A notable example is the town of Villa General Belgrano, founded by Germans in the 1930s. In the 1960s it became the site of the Fiesta Nacional de la Cerveza, or Oktoberfest, which has become a major attraction in Argentina.[91] By 1940, there were 250,000 people of German descent living in the country.[90] The German embassy in Argentina estimates that 660,000 Argentines, or 1.5% of the total population, are descendants of Germans who emigrated directly from Germany (It means that it doesn't includes other ethnic Germans who emigrated from Austria, Switzerland, Russia/USSR, etc.).[92][93] 50,000 German citizens live in Argentina.[11]
Nazi Minister Walther Darré was born in Argentina. After the Second World War, almost a thousand prominent Nazi leaders and politicians fled to Argentina. Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele were among them. Kurt Tank, who developed some of the greatest World War II aircraft fighters, also entered Argentina in the late 1940s.[94]
There are about 500,000 German-speakers in Argentina,[95] slightly over 1% of population.

Furthermore, a wave of Ashkenazi immigrants came after the rise of Nazism in 1933, followed by as many as 19,000 German Jews. From 1939 until the end of World War II, immigration was put to a halt by anti-immigrant feelings in the country and restrictions on immigration from Germany.

In the 1980s, thousands of German Colombians emigrated back to West Germany due to the Colombian armed conflict. However, this trend began to decline in the late 2000s (decade) as living standards rose sharply after the Colombian economic boom.

  • Bolivia: There are 2 different German groups, the descendants of those who emigrated from Germany and Brazil (estimated in about a quarter of million, 2.0% of Bolivian population[96]), and the descendants of Mennonites that emigrated from Canada and Mexico (at least 85,000 of them live in agrarian communities).[97][98] Germans are 237,000 or 2,5% of Bolivian population.[99]
There are over 20,000 Standard German-speakers,[96] plus 85,000 Mennonite Low German-speakers.[97]
  • Brazil: Mostly living in Southern Brazil. Brazil received 250,000 Germans between the 19th and 20th centuries. According to Born and Dickgiesser (1989, p. 55) the number of Brazilians of German descent in 1986 was 3.6 million. According to a 1999 survey by IBGE researcher Simon Schwartzman, in a representative sample of the Brazilian population 3,6% said they had German ancestry, a percentage that in a population of about 200 million amount to 7.2 million descendants.[100] In 2004, Deutsche Welle cited the number of 5 million Brazilians of German descent.[101] Hunsrückisch and East Pomeranian are some of the most prominent groups.[102][103][104]
By 1940, the German diaspora in Brazil amounted about a million.[90]

Around 14,000 German Citizens Registered in Brazil.

There are 3 million German-speakers in Brazil,[95] slightly over 1.5% of population.
  • Chile: The German-Chilean Chamber of Commerce estimated at 500,000 the descendants of Germans, about 3% of the total population of Chile estimated at 16 million (in the same source).[105] There are 40,000 Standard German-speakers.[106]
  • Ecuador: Ecuador has only few people of German descent. Notable is a small German population on the Island of Floreana (Galapagos): Between 1929 and circa 1950 roughly half a dozen Aussteigers were living on the Island. In 1934 three of them died under unclear circumstances, these events caused international media attention called Galapagos-affair. Today, the descendants of the Floreana-Germans have been assimilated into the local Ecuadorian population or re-immigrated to Germany.[107][108]
  • Paraguay : 166,000 Standard German-speakers (including 18,000 Mennonites, who don't speak Plattdeutsch or Mennonite Low German), most Germans in Paraguay are of Brazilian descent and Portuguese speakers;[96] plus 20,000 Mennonite Low German, spoken by Mennonites who live in Chaco and Eastern Paraguay[96] The Mennonites emigrated to Paraguay from Chihuahua State (in Mexico), the Soviet Union, Canada, and Bolivia.[109][110] Non-Mennonites German emigrated to Paraguay mainly from Brazil, the Kingdom of Prussia, and the German Empire.[110]
Those of German ancestry are 290,000 or 4.4% of Paraguayan population.[27]


In Japan, during the Meiji period (1868–1912), many Germans came to work in Japan as advisors to the new government. Despite Japan's isolationism and geographic distance, there have been a few Germans in Japan, since Germany's and Japan's fairly parallel modernization made Germans ideal O-yatoi gaikokujin. (See also Germany–Japan relations)

In China, the German trading colony of Jiaozhou Bay in what is now Qingdao existed until 1914, and did not leave much more than breweries, including Tsingtao Brewery.

Smaller numbers of ethnic Germans immigrated in the former Southeast Asian territories of Malaysia (British), Indonesia (Dutch) and the Philippines (American) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[citation needed] In Indonesia, some of them became well-known figures in history, such as C.G.C. Reinwardt (founder and first director of Bogor Botanical Garden), Walter Spies (German of Russian origin, who became the artist that made Bali known to the world), and Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn (owner of a big plantation in the south of Bandung and dubbed "the Humboldt of the East" because of his ethno-geographical notes).

Members of the German religious group known as Templers settled in Palestine in the late 19th century and lived there for several generations, but were expelled by the British from Mandatory Palestine during World War II, due to pro-Nazi sympathies expressed by many of them.

Communist East Germany had relations with Vietnam and Uganda in Africa, but in these cases population movement went mostly to, not from, Germany. After the German reunification, a large percentage of "guest workers" from Communist nations sent to East Germany returned to their home countries.

See also: German colonial empire and List of former German colonies


People with German ancestry as a percentage of the population in Australia divided geographically by statistical local area, as of the 2011 census
  • Australia has received a significant number of ethnic-German immigrants from Germany and elsewhere. Numbers vary depending on who is counted, but moderate criteria give an estimate of 750,000 (4% of the population). The first wave of German immigration to Australia began in 1838, with the arrival of Prussian Lutheran settlers in South Australia (see German settlement in Australia). After the Second World War, Australia received a large influx of displaced ethnic Germans. In the 1950s and 1960s, German immigration continued as part of a large post-war wave of European immigration to Australia.

There have been ethnic Germans in Australia since the founding of the New South Wales colony in 1788, Governor Arthur Phillip (the first Governor of New South Wales) had a German father. But, the first significant wave of German immigration was in 1838. These Germans, mostly Prussian immigrants (but also winegrowers from the Hesse-Nassau state and the Rheingau). From there after, thousands of Germans emigrated to Australia until World War I. Also, German Australian was the most identified ethnicity behind English and Irish in Australia until World War I.

After World War II, large numbers of Germans emigrated to Australia to escape war-torn Europe.

  • New Zealand has received modest, but steady, ethnic German immigration from the mid-19th century. Today the number of New Zealanders with German ancestry is estimated to be approximately 200,000 (5% of the population). Many German New Zealanders anglicized their names during the 20th century due to the negative perception of Germans fostered by World War I and World War II. New Zealanders of German descent include the late former Prime Minister David Lange. The vast majority of Germans in New Zealand settled in the North Island, with a couple settling in the Christchurch area. Cities such as Tauranga, Nelson and, to a lesser extent, Auckland have been somewhat influenced by German culture and values.


German eastward expansion 895—1400
Map depicting the distribution of the German diaspora during the early 20th century

From Celtic times the early Germanic tribes settled from the Baltic all the way to the Black Sea until the great migrations of the 4-6th century AD.

Medieval Germans migrated eastwards during the medieval period Ostsiedlung until the flight, evacuation and expulsion of Germans after World War II; many areas in Central and Eastern Europe had an ethnic German population.[114][115] In the Middle Ages, Germans were invited to migrate to Poland and the central and eastern regions of the German Holy Roman Empire and also the Kingdom of Hungary following the Mongol invasions of the 12th century, and then once again during the late 17th century after the Austrian-Ottoman wars to set up farms and repopulate the eastern regions of the Austrian Empire and Balkans.

The Nazi government termed such ethnic Germans Volksdeutsche, regardless of how long they had been residents of other countries. (Now they would be considered Auslandsdeutsche). During World War II, Nazi Germany classified ethnic Germans as Übermenschen, while Jews, Gypsies, Slavic peoples, mainly ethnic Poles and Serbs, along with Black and mixed-race people were called Untermenschen. After the war, Central European nations such as Poland, the Czechoslovakia, Hungary, as well as the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, and Yugoslavia in the Balkan region of Southern Europe, expelled most of the ethnic Germans living in their territories.

There were significant ethnic German populations in such areas as Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine at one time. As recently as 1990, there were one million standard German speakers and 100,000 Plautdietsch speakers in Kazakhstan alone[citation needed], and 38,000, 40,000 and 101,057 standard German speakers in Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan, respectively.[citation needed]

There were reportedly 500,000 ethnic Germans in Poland in 1998.[116] Recent official figures show 147,000 (as of 2002).[117] Of the 745,421 Germans in Romania in 1930,[118] only about 60,000 remain.[119] In Hungary the situation is quite similar, with only about 220,000.[120] There are up to one million Germans in the former Soviet Union, mostly in a band from southwestern Russia and the Volga valley, through Omsk and Altai Krai (597,212 Germans in Russia, 2002 Russian census) to Kazakhstan (353,441 Germans in Kazakhstan, 1999 Kazakhstan census). Germany admitted approximately 1.63 million ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union between 1990 and 1999.[121]

These Auslandsdeutsche, as they are now generally known, have been streaming out of the former Eastern Bloc since the early 1990s. For example, many ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union have taken advantage of the German Law of Return, a policy which grants citizenship to all those who can prove to be a refugee or expellee of German ethnic origin or the spouse or descendant of such a person. This exodus has occurred despite the fact that many of the ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union were highly assimilated and spoke little or no German.

Historical countries[edit]

Former Soviet Union[edit]

Former Yugoslavia[edit]

According to the 1921 census, the German community was the largest minority group in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (505,790 inhabitants or 4.22%).[122]


Note that many of these groups have since migrated elsewhere. This list simply gives the region with which they are associated, and does not include people from countries with German as an official national language. In general, it also omits some collective terms in common use defined by political border changes where this is antithetical to the current structure.[clarification needed] Such terms include:

Roughly grouped:

In the Americas, one can divide the groups by current nation of residence:

Heavy concentration of German, Austrian and Swiss descendants in Southern Chile. (German Chileans).

...or by ethnic or religious criteria:

In Africa, Oceania, and East/Southeast Asia

German-language media worldwide[edit]

Distribution of native German speakers in the world today

A visible sign of the geographical extension of the German language is the German-language media outside the German-speaking countries. German is the second most commonly used scientific language[123] as well as the third most widely used language on websites after English and Russian.[124]

Deutsche Welle (German pronunciation: [ˈdɔʏtʃə ˈvɛlə]; "German Wave" in German), or DW, is Germany's public international broadcaster. The service is available in 30 languages. DW's satellite television service consists of channels in German, English, Spanish, and Arabic.

German-speaking people living abroad (and people wanting to learn German) can visit the websites of German-language newspapers and TV- and radio stations. The free software MediathekView allows the downloading of videos from the websites of some public German, Austrian, and Swiss TV stations and of the public Franco-German TV network ARTE. With the webpage "," it is possible to record programs of many German and some international TV stations.

Note that some material is region-restricted due to legal reasons and cannot be accessed from everywhere in the world. Some websites have a paywall or limit the access for free/unregistered users.

See also:

Germany's policy on dual citizenship[edit]

German nationality law allows dual citizenship with other EU countries and Switzerland; with other countries, it is possible in some cases:

  1. With special permission ("Beibehaltungsgenehmigung"), for which German citizens must apply before taking the other citizenship (otherwise, German citizenship is automatically lost). Non-EU and non-Swiss citizens wanting to be naturalized in Germany must usually renounce their old citizenship, but may keep it if their country does not allow the renunciation of citizenship, or if the renunciation process is too difficult/humiliating/expensive, or, rarely, in individual cases if the renunciation of the old citizenship means enormous disadvantages for the concerned person.
  2. If dual citizenship was obtained at birth. Some countries do not accept the "dual-citizenship-by-birth principle," so the concerned person must later choose one citizenship and renounce the other.
  3. Under Article 116 par. 2 of the Basic Law (Grundgesetz), former German citizens who between 30 January 1933, and 8 May 1945, were deprived of their German citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds may re-invoke their citizenship and the same applies to their descendants, and are permitted to hold dual (or multiple) citizenship.[125]

A law adopted in June 2019 allows the revocation of the German citizenship of dual citizens who have joined or supported a terror militia such as the Islamic State and are at least 18 years old.

Naturalized Germans can lose their German citizenship if it is found out that they got it by willful deceit / bribery / menacing / giving intentionally false or incomplete information that had been important for the naturalization process. In June 2019, it was decided to prolong the deadline from 5 to 10 years after naturalization.

Visa requirements[edit]

Visa requirements for German citizens:
  Germany - Right of abode
  Freedom of movement
  Visa and passport not required[a] - ID card travel
  Visa not required / eTA[b]
  Visa on arrival
  eVisa / ETA[c] / EASE[126] / ESTA / NZeTA / eVisitor / K-ETA
  Visa available both on arrival or online
  Visa required prior to arrival
Diplomatic missions of Germany
Diplomatic missions in Germany

As of April 2021, German citizens can visit 191 countries without a visa or with visa on arrival. The Henley Passport Index ranks the German passport third in the world in terms of travel freedom.

Freedom of movement within other EU countries and the EFTA countries[edit]

As EU citizens, Germans can live and work indefinitely in other EU countries and the EFTA countries; however, the right to vote and work in certain sensitive fields (such as government, police, military) might in some cases be restricted to the local citizens only. The EU/EFTA countries can exclude immigrants from getting welfare for a certain time period to avoid "welfare tourism," and they can refuse welfare completely if the immigrants do not have a job after a certain period of time and do not try to get one. Immigrants convicted of welfare fraud can be deported and be refused the re-entry of the country.

Right to consular protection in non-EU countries[edit]

When in a non-EU country where there is no German embassy, Germans as EU citizens have the right to get consular protection from the embassy of any other EU country present in that country. See List of diplomatic missions of Germany and List of diplomatic missions in Germany.

German citizens can be extradited only to other EU countries or to international courts of justice, and only if a law allows this (German Basic Law, Art. 16). Before the introduction of the European Arrest Warrant, the extradition of German citizens was generally prohibited by the German Basic Law.

Germany regularly publishes travel warnings on the website of the Auswärtiges Amt (Federal Foreign Office) to its citizens. The Office allows German citizens to register online in a special list, the Krisenvorsorgeliste ("Crisis-Prevention List") before they travel abroad (Elektronische Erfassung von Deutschen im Ausland [ELEFAND] Electronic Registration of Germans Being Abroad). With a password, the registered persons can change or update their data. The registration is voluntary and free of charge. It can be used for longer stays (longer than 6 months), but also for a vacation of only two weeks. The earliest date of registration is 10 days before the planned trip.


  1. ^ In 1980, Americans self-identifying as being of German ancestry formed the second-largest group on the US Census. With the introduction of the "American" ethnic category in 1990, millions of Americans ceased identifying as being of English ancestry, instead opting to identify only as "American" (or ignoring the ancestry question altogether); Americans of English descent were historically always the plurality. English ancestry is the most widespread in the United States, though no longer the most popular choice for self-identification.
  2. ^ This is an American Community Survey estimate, not a United States Census number.
  3. ^ Afrikaners are predominantly of Dutch, but also of German and English ancestries.
  4. ^ This number represents native Alsatian speakers.
  5. ^ This number counts only Germans in South Tyrol.
  6. ^ This figure includes children born to British Military personnel serving on British Military bases in Germany
  7. ^ Depends on definition; see Swiss people.
  8. ^ Depends on definition; see Austrians.
  9. ^ Approximately 73,000 people constitute the German-speaking Community of Belgium.
  10. ^ Depends on definition; see Liechtensteiners.
  11. ^ Depends on definition; see Luxembourgers.
  1. ^ Visa on arrival or eVisa for Egypt
  2. ^ required if arriving by air
  3. ^ Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Grenada

See also[edit]


Most numbers are from the, apart from a few from German language and Germans, as well as the following:

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External links[edit]