KNOWLEDGE BASE Population - Ethnicity - Language In Germany

The information on this page was current at the time it was published. Regulations, trends, statistics, and other information are constantly changing. While we strive to update our Knowledge Base, we strongly suggest you use these pages as a general guide and be sure to verify any regulations, statistics, guidelines, or other information that are important to your efforts.


Population, Ethnicity, and Language in Germany


Germany's population

The population of Germany in 2023 was approximately 83.31m.  This represents 15.4% of the total European Union (EU) population.  It has the largest population of all of the EU countries, with the next being France at 67.02m.

Germany’s population is overwhelmingly German. According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, as of July 1, 2023, 79.6% of the population of Germany was of German origin. This means that 20.4% of the population is foreign. Of the people who live in the country, 49% are male and 51% are female.  

The most populous German states are Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia. The states with the highest population density are Berlin (the capital of Germany) and Hamburg - both often referred to as city-states - as well as Saarland. Berlin is Germany's startup hub, and Hamburg is also considered a tech center. 


German ethnicity

The ethnic makeup of Germany aligns with the reported nationality, with 91.5% being German.  In 2023, Germany expects approximately 800,00 refugees to seek asylum  in Germany, many of them Muslims from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. While less than 1% of the population, a successful integration of the refugee population could have a positive impact on  the aging population and low birth rate. As discussed in the Globig section, Demographics On Aging In Germany, Germany's aging population is a concern to the country and its citizens. 

Germans tend to ‘trust somewhat’ or ‘not trust very much’ when it comes to people from other nationalities.  Much smaller groups either ‘trust completely’ or ‘do not trust at all’.  This general outlook is similar to that of people in the US, with the US tending a bit toward lower trust.  This indicates that you will have to work to gain trust  with the Germans when entering their market as a foreigner. They are unlikely to immediately embrace you and your business.

According to a 2022 survey by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, 32% of Germans felt there was "little" or "no" tension between different ethnic groups, while 44% perceived "some" tension, and 24% felt "strong" or "very strong" tension.

When responses were separated out by age group:

  • 18-29 year old Germans had the lowest percentage feeling little or no tension (28%) and the highest value for ‘some tension’ (47%)

  • 30-49 year old Germans and 50-64 year old Germans exhibit similar perceptions, with around 34-35% feeling little or no tension and 41-45% perceiving some tension. This suggests a possible stabilization of views during these life stages. 

  • 65+ has the highest percentage feeling little to no tension (42%)


Language in Germany

The official language of Germany is German. Danish, North and Sater Frisian, Upper and Lower Sorbian, and Romani are official minority languages; Low German, Danish, North Frisian, Sater Frisian, Lower Sorbian, Upper Sorbian, and Romani are recognized as regional languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Like students from many European countries, students in  Germany do study foreign languages. Per Eurostat, in 2023, 88.2% of students in upper secondary education in Germany were studying English and 59.4% were learning 2 or more languages (French and Spanish are most popular).  And almost 75% of German students in primary education were studying English.  

Nearly two thirds of the German population (64%) speak English according to a 2021 Statista survey, though according to a 2021 survey by Eurostat, only 17.6% of of German adults said they could do so proficiently. This could be influenced somewhat by the German discomfort around appearing inexpert or proficient in something. Oftentimes, Germans' English is quite good. 


In Germany, while you can generally conduct at least initial B2B business in English, for B2C you will need to use German.  



World Values Survey provided a number of options to Germans when  asked which of the groups they would not like to have as neighbors. They were asked to choose any option that applied to them. One option was  'someone who speaks a different language living next door', and almost 90% did not mention this as a concern of theirs.  Interesting, when compared to the general trust levels for foreigners. That, of course, is equating speaking another language with being foreign, but with more than 95% of Germans speaking German and greater than 90% identifying as German and native to Germany, there is a correlation.  


Globig Insights

Germans are heavily ethnically German and German speakers.  While there are other races and spoken languages within Germany, there is still some level of tension - like in most of the world. With you as a foreigner, it’s important that you build trust and credibility, and plan on showing that you are dedicated to the market.  And remember, for B2C, plan on conducting business in German.

In our section on Hiring Options in Germany, we give you advice on how you can build your staff in Germany. In the Product Localization for Germany area, you’ll find advice on how to ensure your product or service feels local to the Germans - a key ingredient to your success. The Language Localization for Germany section provides guidance on how to make sure you are using the German language correctly in your products and communications.  



Globig Resources

Federal Ministry of the Interior

European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

Eurostat (2021 Adult Learning Statistics)


World Values Survey (Wave 8)

Federal Statistical Office of Germany

KNOWLEDGE BASE Population - Ethnicity - Language In Germany