The German language is a one of the world’s most important languages. The German language is closely related to both English and Dutch. German is spoken by 100 million native speakers and approximately an additional 80 million non-native speakers.
German is one of the 23 official languages of the EU and represents the largest number of speakers in the EU as well.
The German language is spoken primarily in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. German is also spoken in Liechtenstein and in Luxembourg. German is also spoken in significantly numerical communities in Italy, the East Cantons of Belgium, and in some border villages of Denmark.
The extent of the German empire and its influence in the of the 19th centuries through the end of the First World War can be seen in surviving remnants of German speaking throughout Europe. The extent of German throughout Europe is also linked to the fact that it was the language of commerce and government in the Hapsburg Empire. Among other territory, the Hapsburg Empire encompassed present day parts of Romania, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. German communities can even be found in Russia, and as far as Kazakhstan.
The region of Namibia, once a German colony, maintains a German speaking population.
German-speaking communities are found throughout all of Europe and in significant numbers especially in the United States and in Latin America.
The international reach of the German language can also be seen in the various dialects that are derived from German. For example, in Luxembourg and in neighboring areas significant portions of the population speak German dialects.
Of all countries where German dialects are spoken, the United States has the largest population of German speakers outside of Europe. The extent of German influence can be seen in part by the existence of a number of towns bearing German names. Examples of this include, New Leipzig, Munich, and Strasburg in the state of North Dakota as well as New Braunfels in the state of Texas.
Other communities retaining German dialects include those of a religious nature. Pennsylvania is home to Amish, Hutterites, Dunkards, and Mennonites. Kansas is also home to Mennonites and Volage Germans. Other states with historic German communities include South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, as well as Illinois and New York.
The extent of the German language and its diversity among even German states led to the process of standardization over several hundred years largely through the work of writers attempting to write in a way that could be understood by the largest body of potential readers. Nevertheless, regional differences remain in spoken German depending on the region it is spoken in.