It is one of the world's major languages and the most widely spoken first language in the European Union. Globally, German is spoken by approximately 120 million native speakers and also by about 80 million non-native speakers. Standard German is widely taught in schools, universities and Institutes worldwide.
German is primarily spoken in Germany (where it is the first language for more than 95% of the population), Austria (89%) and Switzerland (65%).
German is also spoken by the majority of the populations of Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.
Other European German-speaking communities are found in Northern Italy (in the Province of Bolzano-Bozen and in some municipalities in other provinces), in the East Cantons of Belgium, in the French regions of Alsace and Lorraine, and in some border villages of the former South Jutland County (in German, Nordschleswig, in Danish, Sonderjylland) of Denmark.
German-speaking communities can also be found in parts of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Russia and Kazakhstan. In Russia, forced expulsions after World War II and massive emigration to Germany in the 1980s and 1990s have depopulated most of these communities.
German is also spoken by foreign populations and some of their descendants in Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Morocco, Netherlands, Portugal, Scandinavia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
Outside of Europe and the former Soviet Union, the largest German-speaking communities are to be found in the United States, Canada, Brazil and in Argentina where millions of Germans migrated in the last 200 years; but the vast majority of their descendants no longer speak German.
German Americans form the largest self-reported ancestry group in the United States, outnumbering the Irish and English. Additionally, German-speaking communities can be found in the former German colony of Namibia independent from South Africa since 1990, as well as in the other countries of German emigration such as Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Venezuela (where the dialect Aleman Coloniero developed), South Africa and Australia. In Namibia, German Namibians retain German educational institutions.