List of territorial entities where German is an official language

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The following is a list of the territorial entities where German is an official language. It includes countries, which have German as (one of) their nationwide official language(s), as well as dependent territories with German as a co-official language.

Legal statuses of German in Europe:
  German is official language (de jure or de facto)
  German is a co-official language, but not the first language of the majority of the population
  German (or a German dialect) is a legally recognized minority language
Squares: Geographic distribution too dispersed/small for map scale
Striped: Without official legal status

German as an official language[edit]

German is an official language in six sovereign states, which have a combined population of over 100 million people.

Switzerland has four national languages (German, French, Italian, Romansch), of which German is the most spoken with almost 65% of the population claiming it as a first language.[1] However, this figure includes the related local dialects of German that are not mutually intelligible with Standard German, which is the official form of the language used in government, education, trade, and media.

Belgium is officially a trilingual country where German is spoken natively by about 1% of the population and by about 27% as a second language. The German-speaking community is concentrated in the southeastern part of the country.

While Luxembourgish is the national language of Luxembourg, French and German are the primary official languages.

Country Population 2010[2] More information
 Germany 81,802,257 De facto sole nationwide official language
 Belgium 10,839,905 De jure nationwide co-official language; as administrative and communication language only in the German speaking community
 Austria 8,375,290 De jure sole nationwide official language
  Switzerland 7,785,806 De jure sole official language in 17, co-official in 4 cantons (out of 26)
 Luxembourg 502,066 De jure nationwide co-official language
 Liechtenstein 36,281 De jure sole nationwide official language

Dependent entities[edit]

German, or one of its dialects, is a co-official language in several dependent entities. In each of these regions, German, along with the official language of the host nation, is an official language on the administrative level.

Region Country Status Population More information
 South Tyrol  Italy Autonomous province of Italy 511,750 (2011) Co-official language
POL województwo opolskie flag.svg Opole Voivodeship (28 communes)
POL województwo śląskie flag.svg Silesian Voivodeship (3 communes)
 Poland 31 communes ∑ ~250,000 (2006) Auxiliary language on communal level[3]
Bandeira do Espírito Santo.svg Espírito Santo (5 municipalities)
Bandeira de Santa Catarina.svg Santa Catarina (2 municipalities)
Bandeira do Rio Grande do Sul.svg Rio Grande do Sul (2 municipalities)
 Brazil 9 municipalities ∑ ~205,000 (2006) Co-official language on municipal level[4] (as "German", "Pomeranian", and "Hunsrückisch");
also state-wide cultural language in Espírito Santo[5]
KrahuleWappen.gif Krahule/Blaufuss
Kunešov Wappen.png Kunešov/Kuneschhau
 Slovakia 2 villages ∑ ~530 (2011) Co-official language on municipal level;[6][7][8][9]
also national minority language[10]

Other legal statuses[edit]

There are other political entities (countries as well as dependent entities) which acknowledge other legal statuses for the German language or one of its dialects. While these may cover minority rights, support of certain language facilities (schools, media, etc.), and the promotion of cultural protection/heritage, they do not encompass the establishment of German as an "official" language, i.e., being required in public offices or administrative texts.

Although in  France, the German varieties spoken in Alsace/Elsass and northern Lorraine/Lothringen are identified as "regional languages" according to the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages of 1998, the French government has not yet ratified the treaty, and German (or German dialects) have no official legal status.[23]

In the  Netherlands, the Limburgish language is a protected regional language in the Maastricht area according to the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages[10], however it is widely considered a separate language and not a German (or Dutch) dialect.


  1. ^ Lüdi, Georges; Werlen, Iwar (April 2005). "Recensement Fédéral de la Population 2000 — Le Paysage Linguistique en Suisse" (PORTABLE DOCUMENT FORMAT) (in French, German, and Italian). Neuchâtel: Office fédéral de la statistique. Retrieved 5 January 2006. 
  2. ^ See: List of countries by population in 2010
  3. ^ "Map on page of Polish Commission on Standardization of Geographical Names" (PDF). Retrieved 20 June 2015. 
  4. ^ Instituto de Investigação e Desenvolvimento em Política Linguística - List of Brazilian municipalities with co-official languages, including Standard German as well as its dialects Hunsrückisch & Pomeranian
  5. ^ a b Legislative Assembly of the state of Espírito Santo (Comissioner for Culture and Social Communication - Addition to the constitutional amendment number 11/2009 establishing the Pomeranian dialect as well as German as cultural heritage of the state (February 2011)
  6. ^ National Geographic Collegiate Atlas of the World. Willard, Ohio: R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company. April 2006. pp. 257–299. ISBN 978-0-7922-3662-7. 
  7. ^ Úrad splnomocnenca vlády SR pre národnostné menšiny (The Government Council of the Slovak Republic for National Minorities and Ethnic Groups) - List of Slovakian municipalities with >20% minority population (2011)
  8. ^ Annual of Language & Politics and Politics of Identity - Language Policy of Slovak Republic (Zdeněk Škrobák)
  9. ^ Copy of Slovakian "Act 184 (dated 10 July 1999) on the use of languages of national minorities"
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Council of Europe - List of ratifications of the Charter for regional/minority languages
  11. ^ a b c Ammon, Ulrich - Die Stellung der deutschen Sprache in der Welt (de Gruyter Mouton; ISBN 978-3-11-019298-8)
  12. ^ Carolin Zwilling (European Academy Bolzano-Bozen, 2004) - Minority Protection and Language Policy in the Czech Republic
  13. ^ The European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) - Bonn-Copenhagen Declarations of 1955: Notification concerning the general rights of the German minority
  14. ^ Die deutsche Minderheit in Dänemark - Sprache – Identität und Schlüssel (German). Letzter Zugriff am 3. Mai 2015
  15. ^ "Deutsche Botschaft Budapest - Die deutsche Minderheit in Ungarn". Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  16. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Budapest - The national and ethnic minorities in Hungary
  17. ^ Autonomous Province of Trentino - Legislation pertaining to linguistic minorities
  18. ^ Sprachminderheiten in Italien - Autonome Region Trentino-Südtirol
  19. ^ Loi constitutionnelle n° 4 du 26 février 1948 STATUT SPECIAL POUR LA VALLEE D'AOSTE
  20. ^ "Deutsch in Namibia" (PDF) (in German). Supplement of the Allgemeine Zeitung. 18 August 2007. Retrieved 23 June 2008. 
  21. ^ Ammon, Ulrich - Die deutsche Sprache in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz: das Problem der nationalen Varietäten (Walter de Gruyter; ISBN 311014753X)
  22. ^ - Charter of the Azov German National District, establishing, amongst others, the German language to be protected, supported and promoted (Russian)
  23. ^ - Charte européenne des langues régionales : Hollande nourrit la guerre contre le français (06/05/2015)