Demographics of Germany

Demographics of Germany

Population from 1800 to 2000. The figures of the FRG and the GDR are combined.[1]
Population 82,175,700 (31 December 2015)[2]
Growth rate Increase1.2 (2015)
Birth rate 8.8 births/1,000 population (2014)[3]
Death rate 10.7 deaths/1,000 population (2014)[4]
Life expectancy 81 years (2015)
  male 79 years
  female 83 years
Fertility rate 1.47 children born/woman (2014)[5]
Infant mortality rate 3.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2014)
Net migration rate 1.06 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014)
Sex ratio
Total 0.97 male(s)/female (2013)
At birth 1.06 male(s)/female
Under 15 1.05 male(s)/female
15–64 years 1.02 male(s)/female
65 and over 0.76 male(s)/female
Nationality noun: German(s) adjective: German
Major ethnic Germans
Spoken German, others

The demography of Germany is monitored by the Statistisches Bundesamt (Federal Statistical Office of Germany). According to the first census since the reunification, Germany's population was counted to be 80,219,695 on May 9, 2011,[6] making it the 16th most populous country in the world. Until 2014, Germany's population has been characterized by zero or declining growth,[7] with an aging population and smaller cohort of youths. The total fertility rate has been rated around 1.4 in 2010[8][9] (the highest value since 1990[8]) and has in 2011 even been estimated at 1.6 after accounting for the fact that older women contribute more to the number of births than in previous statistic models, and total fertility rates increased in younger generations.[10] In 2008 fertility was related to educational achievement (with the less educated women having more children than the educated ones).[11] In 2011 this was no longer true for Eastern Germany where college educated women now had a somewhat higher fertility rate than the rest of the population.[12] Persons who adhere to no religion have fewer children than Christians, and studies also found that among Christians the more conservative ones had more children than the more liberal ones.[13][14] In vitro fertilisation is legal in Germany, with an age limit set at 40.[15]

The United Nations Population Fund lists Germany as host to the second-highest number of international migrants worldwide, behind the US at number one.[16] More than 16 million people are of foreign/immigrant descent (first and second generation, including mixed heritage and ethnic German repatriates and their descendants). 96.1% of those reside in western Germany and Berlin.[17] About seven million of them are foreign residents, which is defined as those not having German citizenship. The largest ethnic group of non-German origin are the Turkish. Since the 1960s, West and later reunified Germany has been attracting migrants primarily from Southern and Eastern Europe as well as Turkey, many of whom (or their children) over time acquired German citizenship. While most of these migrations had an economic background, Germany has also been a prime destination for refugees from many developing countries, in part because its constitution long had a clause giving a 'right' to political asylum, but restrictions over the years have since made it less attractive.

Germany has one of the world's highest levels of education, technological development, and economic productivity. Since the end of World War II, the number of students entering universities has more than tripled, and the trade and technical schools are among the world's best. With a per capita PPP income of about $41,370 in 2012,[9] Germany is a broadly middle class society. However, there has been a strong increase in the number of children living in poverty. Whereas in 1965 one in 75 children was on the welfare rolls, in 2007 one child in 6 was although it should be noted that these children live in relative poverty, but not necessarily in absolute poverty.[18] Germans also are very mobile; millions travel abroad each year. The social welfare system provides for universal health care, unemployment compensation, child benefits and other social programmes. Due to Germany's aging population and struggling economy, the welfare system came under a lot of strain in the 1990s. This led the government to adopt a wide-ranging programme of belt-tightening reforms, Agenda 2010, including the labour market reforms known as Hartz I - IV.


Main article: Census in Germany

The contemporary demographics of Germany are also measured by a series of full censuses, with the most recent held in 1987. Since reunification, German authorities rely on a micro census.

Statistics since 1900

Population statistics since 1900.[19] Territorial changes of Germany occurred in 1918/1919, 1921/1922 and 1945/1946.

Fertility is not shown before 1950. Notable features before that time are fertility being extremely low during the ending years of the Weimar Republic, when it dropped down to about 1.6 child per woman in 1933.


Population of Germany by аge and sex (demographic pyramid) in 1950
Medical students and their triplets in the GDR in 1984; the GDR encouraged birth among college students

After the World War II border shifts and expulsions, the Germans from Central and Eastern Europe and the former eastern territories moved westward to post-war Germany. During the partition of Germany, many Germans from East Germany fled to West Germany for political and also economic reasons. Since Germany's reunification, there are ongoing migrations from the eastern New Länder to the western Old Länder for economic reasons.

The federal republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic followed different paths when it came to demographics. The politics of ther German Democratic Republic was pronatalistic[22] while that of the Federal Republic was compensatory. Fertility in the GDR was higher than that in the FRG. Demographic politics was only one of the reasons. Women in the GDR had less "biographic options", young motherhood was expected of them. State funded costfree childcare was available to all mothers.[23]


Main article: New states of Germany

About 1.7 million people have left the new federal states since the fall of the Berlin Wall, or 12% of the population,[24] a disproportionately high number of them were women under 35.[25]

After 1990, the total fertility rate (TFR) in the East dropped to 0.772 in 1994. This has been attributed to the fact that there was a "demographic shock" (people not only had less children, they also were less likely to marry or divorce after the end of the GDR) the biographic options of the citizens of the former GDR had increased. Young motherhood seemed to be less attractive and the age of the first birth rose sharply.[23]

In the following years, the TFR in the East Germany started rising again, surpassing 1.0 in 1997 and 1.3 in 2004, reaching the West's TFR in 2007 (1.37). In 2010, the East's fertility rate (1.459) clearly exceeded that of the West (1.385), while Germany's overall TFR has risen to 1.393, the highest value since 1990[8][26] - which is still far below the natural replacement rate of 2.1 and the birth rates seen under communism. In 2012 the TFR of East Germany was 1.454, while TFR in the West was only 1.371.[20]

Between 1989 and 2009, about 2,000 schools closed because of a scarcity of children.[24]

In some regions the number of women between the ages of 20 and 30 has dropped by more than 30%.[24] In 2004, in the age group 18-29 (statistically important for starting families) there were only 90 women for every 100 men in the new federal states (including Berlin).

Until 2007 family politics in the federal republic was compensatory, which means that poor families received more family benefits (such as the Erziehungsgeld) than rich ones. In 2007 the so-called "Elterngeld" was introduced. According to Christoph Butterwege the Elterngeld was meant to "motivate highly educated women to have more children", the poor on the other hand were disadvantaged by the Elterngeld, receiving now less child benefits than the middle classes.[27] The very well-off (who earn more than 250.000 Euro per annum) and those on welfare receive no Elterngeld payments.[28]

In 2013 the following most recent developments were noticed:[29]

In the new federal states the birth rate of college educated women is now higher than that of those without college degrees. Differences in value priorities and the better availability of childcare in the eastern states are discussed as a possible reason.[30]


With an estimated more than 81.8 million inhabitants in late 2011,[31] Germany is the most populous country in the European Union and ranks as the 16th largest country in the world in terms of population. Its population density stands at 229.4 inhabitants per square kilometer.


Germany comprises sixteen states that are collectively referred to as Länder.[32] Due to differences in size and population the subdivision of these states varies, especially between city states (Stadtstaaten) and states with larger territories (Flächenländer). For regional administrative purposes five states, namely Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony, consist of a total of 22 Government Districts (Regierungsbezirke). As of 2009 Germany is divided into 403 districts (Kreise) on municipal level, these consist of 301 rural districts and 102 urban districts.[33]

State Capital Area
(Dec. 31, 2013)
Population density
North Rhine-Westphalia Düsseldorf 34,110Increase17,571,856515
Bavaria Munich 70,550Increase12,604,244179
Baden-Württemberg Stuttgart 35,751Increase10,631,278297
Lower Saxony Hanover 47,614Increase7,790,559164
Hesse Wiesbaden 21,115Increase6,045,425286
Saxony Dresden 18,420Decrease4,046,385220
Rhineland-Palatinate Mainz 19,854Increase3,994,366201
Berlin Berlin 892Increase3,421,8293,838
Schleswig-Holstein Kiel 15,800Increase2,815,955178
Brandenburg Potsdam 29,654Decrease2,449,19383
Saxony-Anhalt Magdeburg 20,452Decrease2,244,577110
Thuringia Erfurt 16,173Decrease2,160,840134
Hamburg Hamburg 755Increase1,746,3422,312
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Schwerin 23,212Decrease1,596,50569
Saarland Saarbrücken 2,569Decrease990,718386
Bremen Bremen 419Increase657,9311,568
Germany Berlin 357,340Increase80,767,463226




Munich (München)

Rank City Federal-State Population

Cologne (Köln)

Frankfurt am Main


1 Berlin Berlin 3,421,829
2 Hamburg Hamburg 1,746,342
3 Munich Bavaria 1,407,836
4 Cologne North Rhine-Westphalia 1,034,175
5 Frankfurt am Main Hesse 701,350
6 Stuttgart Baden-Württemberg 604,297
7 Düsseldorf North Rhine-Westphalia 598,696
8 Dortmund North Rhine-Westphalia 575,944
9 Essen North Rhine-Westphalia 569,884
10 Bremen Bremen 548,547
11 Leipzig Saxony 531,562
12 Dresden Saxony 530,754
13 Hanover Lower Saxony 518,386
14 Nuremberg Bavaria 498,876
15 Duisburg North Rhine-Westphalia 486,855
Source: Statistische Ämter des Bundes und der Länder (December 31, 2013)[35]

Metropolitan regions

Germany officially has eleven metropolitan regions. In 2005, Germany had 82 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants.

City nameLocationDescriptionPopulation (2004)Largest German ethnic groupsLargest non-German ethnic groups
Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region Cologne is the largest city of the Rhineland, the very Western part of Germany. Particularly among young Germans, Cologne and Düsseldorf are known for their nightlife and open-minded atmosphere. 11.7 mil Rhinelanders, Westfalians and others Turks, Italians, Dutch, Poles, French, Arabs, Iranians, South Asians like Indians, and Japanese (large Japanese community in Düsseldorf).
Frankfurt Rhine-Main Region Frankfurt is the economic and financial center both for Germany and the continental European Union. It boasts a large airport and numerous skyscrapers. Within Germany, the city has a reputation of being very business-oriented, perhaps at the expense of other pursuits. 5.8 mil Hessians and others Turks, Italians, Dutch, Arabs, Iranians, Bosnians, Greeks, Russians, Israelis, Koreans, Afghans, and Pakistanis (mostly Pashtun & Panjabi ethnic groups).
Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region Berlin is the capital of Germany and its largest city. Berlin lies in the eastern part of the country and is regarded as one of Europe's most vibrant and ever changing capitals. It is also the 3rd most visited city in Europe. Additionally, it is Germany's most ethnically and culturally diverse city. 4.9 mil Berliners, Prussians, Swabians, Bavarians etc. Turks, Arabs, Bosnians, Poles, Russians, Albanians, Serbs, Kurds, Vietnamese, Israelis, Chinese, rising number of Africans, Chileans, Brazilians, Puerto Ricans.
Munich Metropolitan Region Munich has Germany's highest standard of living. Countless sporting and leisure opportunities - both in the city and in its picturesque region. Munich is a powerhouse of the German economy and rich in Bavarian culture. 4.7 mil Bavarians, Franconians and others Turks, Croats, Serbs, Dutch, Afghans, Greeks, Albanians, Macedonians, Italians, Bosnians, Hungarians, Spaniards and Romanians.
Hamburg Metropolitan Region Hamburg is a free city state and the second largest city in Germany. It has a long tradition for sea trade and civil establishment and is home to Europe's 2nd largest port. The city is proud of its diverse nightlife and music scene centered in and around the famous St. Pauli district. According to European Union Statistics (EUROSTAT) it is Germany's richest city. 4.3 mil Hamburgers, Schleswiger, Holsteiner, Lower Saxons and others Turks, Russians, Albanians, Dutch, Poles, Pakistanis, Iranians, Macedonians, Chinese, Portuguese, Afghans, Africans
Southern Lower Saxony: Hannover–Braunschweig–Göttingen–Wolfsburg Metropolitan Region The relatively urban south of Lower Saxony, located on route between the Ruhr area and Berlin, and the route form Hamburg to the south, has been important for logistics, industry, but also developed a strong standing in the service industries. 3.9 mil Lower Saxons, Eastphalians and others Turks, Kurds (especially around Celle), Serbs, Ukrainians, Greeks, Russians, Italians (especially in Wolfsburg) and Spanish (Especially in Hanover).
Leipzig-Halle-Dresden (Saxon Triangle) Also dubbed "City of Heroes", Leipzig is where the 1989 revolution that brought down the Berlin Wall started. Today totally refurbished, it sports Europe's highest density of Art Nouveau architecture. Very lively bar scene, fastest growing economy in Germany. 3.5 mil Upper Saxons and others Vietnamese, Indians, Russians, Portuguese, Italians, Poles, Iranians, Turks, Dutch, Arabs and Pakistanis.
Stuttgart Metropolitan Region Stuttgart has a reputation for research, inventions and industry. The German headquarters of many international enterprises are in Stuttgart. This contrasts with the strong rural, down-to-earth attitude of the Stuttgarters throughout the classes. A popular slogan is "We are good at everything. Except speaking High (standard) German." 3.5 mil Swabians and others Turks, Greeks, Dutch, Italians, Croats, Serbs, French, Chinese, Romanians, Americans and Spaniards.
Bremen/Oldenburg Metropolitan Region Located in the northwestern part of Germany, the main axis contains the cities of Bremen, Delmenhorst and Oldenburg, with the cities of Wilhelmshaven and Bremerhaven being the northern corners at the north sea. Major rural areas are covered in between these cities. There is a smooth transition to the Hamburg metropolitan area to the east. 2.4 mil Lower Saxons, Frisians and others Turks, Russians, Albanians, Serbs, Portuguese, Iranians, Dutch, Americans and Britons.


Map of population density in Germany in 2006.

Demographic statistics according to the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.


82,175,700 (2015 estimate)

Germany's population pyramid in 2005
Age structure
Sex ratio
Infant mortality rate

4.09 deaths per 1,000 live births (2007)

total: 3.99 deaths/1,000 live births (2010)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 81 years (2015)

80 (2013)
Total fertility rate

1.38 children born/woman (2008)

1.42 children born/woman (2013)

1.43 children born/woman (2014)

While most childbirths in Germany happen within marriage, a growing number of children are born out-of-wedlock. In 2010 the out-of-wedlock-rate was 33%, more than twice of what it was in 1990.[36]

The Mikrozensus done in 2008 revealed that the number of children a German woman aged 40 to 75 had, was closely linked to her educational achievement.[11] In Western Germany the most educated women were the most likely to be childless. 26% of those groups stated they were childless, while 16% of those having an intermediate education, and 11% of those having compulsory education, stated the same. In Eastern Germany however, 9% of the most educated women of that age group and 7% of those who had an intermediary education were childless, while 12% of those having only compulsory education were childless.

The reason for that east-western difference is that the GDR had an "educated mother scheme" and actively tried to encourage first births among the more educated. It did so by propagandizing the opinion that every educated woman should "present at least one child to socialism" and also by financially rewarding its more educated citizen to become parents. The government especially tried to persuade students to become parents while still in college and it was quite successful in doing so. In 1986 38% of all women, who were about to graduate from college, were mothers of at least one child and additional 14% were pregnant and 43% of all men, who were about to graduate from college, were fathers of at least one child. There was a sharp decline in the birth rate and especially in the birth rate of the educated after the fall of the Berlin wall. Nowadays, 5% of those about to graduate from college are parents.

The more educated a Western German mother aged 40 to 75 was in 2008, the less likely she was to have a big family.

Percent of Western German mothers having 1, 2 and 3 or more children by educational attainment
number of children compulsory education intermediary education highest education
one child 22 30 31
two children 39 48 48
three or more children 39 22 21

The same was true for a mother living in Eastern Germany in 2008.

Percent of Eastern German mothers having 1, 2 and 3 and more children by educational attainment
number of children compulsory education intermediary education highest education
one child 23 33 33
two children 37 46 51
three or more children 40 21 16

A study done in 2005 in the western German state of Nordrhein-Westfalen by the HDZ revealed that childlessness was especially widespread among scientists. It showed that 78% of the women scientists and 71% of the male scientists working in that state were childless.[38]

Migrant background and foreign nationality

Germany is home to the third-highest number of international migrants worldwide (this picture is not accurate and need to be approved),[39] around 12% of Germany's population do not hold a German passport or are descendents of immigrants. (need official references)

Foreign nationals in Germany

As of 2014, the numbers of selected groups of resident foreign nationals (non-naturalized permanent residents) in Germany were as follows:

This list does not include foreigners with German nationality and foreign nationals without permanent resident status.

Rank Nationality Population (2014)[40]
1 Turkey 1,527,118
2European Union Poland 674,152
3European Union Italy 574,530
4European Union Romania 355,343
5European Union Greece 328,564
6European Union Croatia 263,347
7 Serbia 252,468
8 Russia 221,413
9European Union Bulgaria 183,263
10European Union Austria 179,772
11European Union Hungary 156,812
12European Union Spain 146,846
13European Union Netherlands 144,741
14European Union Portugal 130,882
15 Ukraine 127,942
16European Union France 123,281
17 Syria 118,196
18 China 110,284
19 United States 108,845
20European Union United Kingdom 103,756

Migrant background

Simone Hauswald is classified as having a "migrant background" because one of her parents is an immigrant.

The Federal Statistical Office defines persons with a migrant background as all persons who migrated to the present area of the Federal Republic of Germany after 1949, plus all foreign nationals born in Germany and all persons born in Germany as German nationals with at least one parent who migrated to Germany or was born in Germany as a foreign national. The figures presented here are based on this definition only.

Total population is 80.2 million.[41]

In 2010, 2.3 million families with children under 18 years were living in Germany, in which at least one parent had foreign roots. They represented 29% of the total of 8.1 million families with minor children. Compared with 2005 – the year when the microcensus started to collect detailed information on the population with a migrant background – the proportion of migrant families has risen by 2 percentage points.[43]

Most of the families with a migrant background live in the western part of Germany. In 2010, the proportion of migrant families in all families was 32% in the former territory of the Federal Republic. This figure was more than double that in the new Länder (incl. Berlin) where it stood at 15%.[43]

Families with a migrant background more often have three or more minor children in the household than families without a migrant background. In 2010, about 15% of the families with a migrant background contained three or more minor children, as compared with just 9% of the families without a migrant background.[43]

In 2009, 3.0 million of the persons of immigrant background had Turkish roots, 2.9 million had their roots in the successor states of the Soviet Union (including a large number of Russian-speaking ethnic Germans), 1.5 million had their roots in the successor states of Yugoslavia and 1.5 million had Polish roots.[44]

In 2008, 18.4% of Germans of any age group and 30% of German children had at least one parent born abroad. Median age for Germans with at least one parent born abroad was 33.8 years, while that for Germans, who had two parents born in Germany was 44.6 years.[45]

In 2012, 80% of Germans had no migration background, a further 4% were ethnic German immigrants (from countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan, and Romania). In total, 91.6% of the population is of European background, excluding Turkey (including ethnic Germans from Kazakhstan but excluding ethnic Europeans from other parts of the world, such as the USA). 3.7% of the population had a Turkish background.:pp. 230–231[46]

Germany is home to the third-highest number of international migrants worldwide.[47]

Population background in Germany

  Germans[48] (80.0%)
  other Europeans (11.6%)
  Turks (3.7%)
  Asians (1.7%)
  Africans (0.7%)
  Americans (0.5%)
  Others/unspecified (1.8%)

As of 2012, the population by background was as follows:[46]

Population background % Population[49]Kasachstan
European 91.6 74,955,000
European Union 86.8 71,027,000
     German[48] 80.0 65,550,000
     Polish 2.9 2,850,000
     Italian 1.0 930,000
     Romanian 0.5 489,000
     Greek 0.5 403,000
     Other EU member states (primarily Spanish, Croatian, Dutch, Portuguese and Austrians) 2.5 2,362,000
European Other 4.1 3,928,000
     Russian 1.5 1,213,000
     Others (primarily former Yugoslavian, excluding Croatia and Slovenia) 2.9 2,715,000
Middle Eastern/North Africa 3.8 3,711,000
     Turkish (including Turkish Kurds) 2.8 2,714,000
     Arabic 0.6 500,000
     Others (primarily Iranian) 0.2 220,000
Sub-Saharan African (primarily Nigerian and Ghanaian) 1.0 1,000,000
East/Southeast Asian 0.9 778,000
     Chinese 0.3 200,000
     Vietnamese 0.2 150,000
     Others (primarily Indians, Thai and Pakistani) 0.4 428,000
North/Central/South American (primarily American and Brazilian) 0.5 416,000
Other background (primarily Australian and Oceanic) 0.1 46,000
Mixed or unspecified background 1.5 1,208,000
Total population 100 82,031,000

Four other sizable groups of people are referred to as "national minorities" (nationale Minderheiten) because they have lived in their respective regions for centuries: Danes, Frisians, Roma and Sinti, and Sorbs. There is a Danish minority (about 50,000, according to government sources) in the northern-most state of Schleswig-Holstein. Eastern and Northern Frisians live at Schleswig-Holstein's western coast, and in the north-western part of Lower Saxony. They are part of a wider community (Frisia) stretching from Germany to the northern Netherlands. The Sorbs, a Slavic people with about 60,000 members (according to government sources), are in the Lusatia region of Saxony and Brandenburg. They are the last remnants of the Slavs that lived in central and eastern Germany since the 7th century to have kept their traditions and not been completely integrated into the wider German nation.

Until World War II the Poles were recognized as one of the national minorities. In 1924 the Union of Poles in Germany had initiated cooperation between all national minorities in Germany under the umbrella organization Association of National Minorities in Germany. Some of the union members wanted the Polish communities in easternmost Germany (now Poland) to join the newly established Polish nation after World War I. Even before the German invasion of Poland, leading anti-Nazi members of the Polish minority were deported to concentration camps; some were executed at the Piaśnica murder site. Minority rights for Poles in Germany were revoked by Hermann Göring's World War II decree of 27 February 1940, and their property was confiscated.

After the war ended, the German government did not re-implement national minority rights for ethnic Poles. The reason for this is that the areas of Germany which formerly had a native Polish minority were annexed to Poland and the Soviet Union, while almost all of the native German populations (formerly the ethnic majority) in these areas subsequently fled or were expelled by force. With the mixed German-Polish territories now lost, the German government subsequently regarded ethnic Poles residing in what remained of Germany as immigrants, just like any other ethnic population with a recent history of arrival. In contrast, Germans living in Poland are recognized as national minority and have granted seats in Polish Parliament.[50][51] It must be said, however, that an overwhelming amount of Germans in Poland have centuries-old historical ties to the lands they now inhabit, whether from living in territory that once belonged to the German state, or from centuries-old communities. In contrast, most Poles in present-day Germany are recent immigrants, though there are some communities which have been present since the 19th and perhaps even the 18th centuries. Despite protests by some in the older Polish-German communities, and despite Germany being now a signatory to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Germany has so far refused to re-implement minority rights for ethnic Poles, based on the fact that almost all areas of historically mixed German-Polish heritage (where the minority rights formerly existed) are no longer part of Germany and because the vast majority of ethnic Poles now residing in Germany are recent immigrants.

Roma people have been in Germany since the Middle Ages. They were persecuted by the Nazis, and thousands of Roma living in Germany were killed by the Nazi regime. Nowadays, they are spread all over Germany, mostly living in major cities. It is difficult to estimate their exact number, as the German government counts them as "persons without migrant background" in their statistics. There are also many assimilated Sinti and Roma. A vague figure given by the German Department of the Interior is about 70,000. In the late 1990s, many Roma moved to Germany from Kosovo. In contrast to the old-established Roma population, the majority of them do not have German citizenship, they are classified as immigrants or refugees.

A family of so-called "Spätaussiedler" (repatriates of ethnic German origin), because the parents were born abroad they will be counted as "persons with immigrant background"

After World War II, 14 million ethnic Germans were expelled from the eastern territories of Germany and homelands outside the former German Empire. The accommodation and integration of these Heimatvertriebene in the remaining part of Germany, in which many cities and millions of apartments had been destroyed, was a major effort in the post-war occupation zones and later states of Germany.

Since the 1960s, ethnic Germans from the People's Republic of Poland and Soviet Union (especially from Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine), have come to Germany. During the time of Perestroika, and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the number of immigrants increased heavily. Some of these immigrants are of mixed ancestry. During the 10-year period between 1987 and 2001, a total of 1,981,732 ethnic Germans from the FSU immigrated to Germany, along with more than a million of their non-German relatives. After 1997, however ethnic Slavs or those belonging to Slavic-Germanic mixed origins outnumbered these with only Germanic descent amongst the immigrants. The total number of people currently living in Germany having FSU connection is around 4 to 4.5 million (Including Germans, Slavs, Jews and those of mixed origins), out of that more than 50% is of German descent.[52][53]

Germany now has Europe's third-largest Jewish population. In 2004, twice as many Jews from former Soviet republics settled in Germany as in Israel, bringing the total inflow to more than 100,000 since 1991.[54] Jews have a voice in German public life through the Central Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland). Some Jews from the former Soviet Union are of mixed heritage.

Turkish parade in Berlin

In 2000 there were also around 300,000–500,000 Afro-Germans (those who have German citizenship)[55] and 150,000+ African nationals. Most of them live in Berlin and Hamburg. Numerous persons from Tunisia and Morocco live in Germany, which in most cases do not considers themselves "Afro-Germans" and are not considered "Afro-Germans" by the German public although they come from Northern Africa, because they are not Black African looking. However, Germany does not keep any statistics regarding ethnicity or race. Hence, the exact number of Blacks or Afro-Germans in particular, is unknown.

Germany's biggest East Asian minority are the Vietnamese people in Germany. About 40,000 Vietnamese live in Berlin and surroundings. Also there are about 20,000 to 25,000 Japanese people residing in Germany. Some South Asian and Southeast Asian immigration has taken place. Nearly 50,000 Indians live in Germany. As of 2008, there were 68,000 Filipino residents and an unknown number of Indonesians residing in Germany.[56]

Numerous descendants of the so-called Gastarbeiter live in Germany. The Gastarbeiter mostly came from Chile, Greece, southern Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia. Also included were Vietnam, Mongolia, North Korea, Angola, Mozambique and Cuba when the former East Germany existed until reunification in 1990.[57] The (socialist) German Democratic Republic (East Germany) however had their guest-workers stay in single-sex dormitories.[58] Female guest workers had to sign contracts saying that they were not allowed to fall pregnant during their stay. If they fell pregnant nevertheless they faced forced abortion or deportation.[59] This is one of the reasons why the vast majority of ethnic minorities today lives in western Germany and also one of the reasons why minorities such as the Vietnamese have the most unusual population pyramid, with nearly all second-generation Vietnamese Germans born after 1989.


The most common male haplogroup among Germans is Haplogroup R1b, followed by Haplogroup I1, and Haplogroup R1a.[60]


In its State of World Population 2006 report, the United Nations Population Fund lists Germany with hosting the third-highest percentage of the main international migrants worldwide, about 5% or 10 million of all 191 million migrants.[61] Germany had previously signed special visa agreements with several countries in times of severe labour shortages or when particular skills were deficient within the country. During the 60s & 70s, agreements were signed with the governments of Turkey, Yugoslavia, Italy and Spain to help Germany overcome its severe labour shortage.

Currently, as of 2012, the largest sources of net immigration to Germany are other European countries, most importantly Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and Greece; notably, in the case of Turkey, German Turks moving to Turkey slightly outnumber new immigrants.[62]

In 2015 there were 476,649 asylum applications.[63]


Main article: Education in Germany
Cadets of the German Navy exercising in front of one of the gyms of Germany's naval officers school, the Marineschule Mürwik.

Responsibility for educational oversight in Germany lies primarily with the individual federated states. Since the 1960s, a reform movement has attempted to unify secondary education into a Gesamtschule (comprehensive school); several West German states later simplified their school systems to two or three tiers. A system of apprenticeship called Duale Ausbildung ("dual education") allows pupils in vocational training to learn in a company as well as in a state-run vocational school.[64]

Optional kindergarten education is provided for all children between three and six years old, after which school attendance is compulsory for at least nine years. Primary education usually lasts for four years and public schools are not stratified at this stage.[64] In contrast, secondary education includes three traditional types of schools focused on different levels of academic ability: the Gymnasium enrols the most academically promising children and prepares students for university studies; the Realschule for intermediate students lasts six years; the Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education.[65]

In addition Germany has a comprehensive school known as the Gesamtschule. While some German schools such as the Gymnasium and the Realschule have rather strict entrance requirements, the Gesamtschule does not have such requirements. They offer college preparatory classes for the students who are doing well, general education classes for average students, and remedial courses for those who aren't doing that well. In most cases students attending a Gesamtschule may graduate with the Hauptschulabschluss, the Realschulabschluss or the Abitur depending on how well they did in school. The percentage of students attending a Gesamtschule varies by Bundesland. In 2007 the State of Brandenburg more than 50% of all students attended a Gesamtschule,[66] while in the State of Bavaria less than 1% did.

The general entrance requirement for university is Abitur, a qualification normally based on continuous assessment during the last few years at school and final examinations; however there are a number of exceptions, and precise requirements vary, depending on the state, the university and the subject. Germany's universities are recognised internationally; in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) for 2008, six of the top 100 universities in the world are in Germany, and 18 of the top 200.[67] Nearly all German universities are public institutions, charging tuition fees of €50–500 per semester for each student.[68]

Percentage of jobholders holding Hauptschulabschluss, Realschulabschluss or Abitur in Germany[69]

1970 1982 1991 2000
Hauptschulabschluss 87,7% 79,3% 66,5% 54,9%
Realschulabschluss 10,9% 17,7% 27% 34,1%
Abitur 1,4% 3% 6,5% 11%


Over 99% of those of age 15 and above are estimated to be able to read and write. However, a growing number of inhabitants are functionally illiterate. The young are much more likely to be functionally illiterate than the old. According to a study done by the University of Bremen in coorporation with the "Bundesverband Alphabetisierung e.V.", 10% of youngsters living in Germany are functionally illiterate and one quarter are able to understand only basic level texts.[70] Illiteracy rates of youngsters vary by ethnic group and parents' socioeconomic class.


Main article: Health in Germany

As of 2009, the principal cause of death was cardiovascular disease, at 42%, followed by malignant tumours, at 25%.[71] As of 2008, about 82,000 Germans had been infected with HIV/AIDS and 26,000 had died from the disease (cumulatively, since 1982).[72] According to a 2005 survey, 27% of German adults are smokers.[72] A 2009 study shows Germany is near the median in terms of overweight and obese people in Europe.[73]


Main article: Religion in Germany

The national constitutions of 1919 and 1949 guarantee freedom of faith and religion; earlier, these freedoms were mentioned only in state constitutions. The modern constitution of 1949 also states that no one may be discriminated against due to their faith or religious opinions. A state church does not exist in Germany (see Freedom of religion in Germany).[74]

2008 map of Christian denominations in the states of Germany[75][76][77] Majority of population is:
  member of the Roman Catholic church
  member of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD)
  either member of the Roman Catholic church or the EKD with EKD the largest
  either member of the Roman Catholic church or the EKD with Roman Catholic being the largest denomination
  mainly not religious, largest Christian minority is EKD

According to a 1990s poll by Der Spiegel magazine, 45% of Germans believe in God, and a quarter in Jesus Christ.[78] According to the Eurobarometer Poll 2005, 47% of German citizens agreed with the statement "I believe there is a God", whereas 25% agreed with "I believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 25% said "I do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force".[79]

Christianity is the largest religion in Germany, with an estimated 61% of the country's population[80][81] (66.8% at the 2011 census).[82] The second largest religion is Islam, with between 2.1 and 4 million adherents (2.6% to 5%).[80][81] Smaller religious groups (less than 1%) include Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism.[80][81]

The two largest churches, the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), have lost significant number of adherents. In 2014 the Catholic Church accounted for 29.5%[83] and the Evangelical Church for 27.9%[84] of the population. Other Christian churches and groups summed up to 3.3%[80] with estimations for the Orthodox Church between 1.3%[81] and 1.9%.[80] Since the reunification of Germany, the number of non-religious people has grown and an estimated 34% of the country's population is not affiliated with any church or religion.[80][81]

The other religions make up to less than 1% of the population.[80] Buddhism has around 200,000 adherents (0.2%), Judaism has around 200.000 adherents (0.2%), Hinduism 90,000 (0.1%), Sikhism 75,000 (0.1%) and Yazidi religion (45,000-60,000).[85] All other religious communities in Germany have fewer than 50,000 (<0.1%) adherents.

Religion in Germany (2014)
No Religion
Roman Catholicism
Evangelical Church
Other Christians
Other Religions

Protestantism is concentrated in the north and east and Roman Catholicism is concentrated in the south and west. According to the last nationwide census, Protestantism is more widespread among the population with German citizenship; there are slightly more Catholics total because of the Catholic immigrant population (including such groups as Poles and Italians).[86] The former Pope, Benedict XVI, was born in Bavaria. Non-religious people, including atheists and agnostics might make as many as 55%, and are especially numerous in the former East Germany and major metropolitan areas.[87]

Of the roughly 4 million Muslims, most are Sunnis and Alevites from Turkey, but there are a small number of Shi'ites and other denominations.[88][89] 1.3% of the country's overall population declare themselves Orthodox Christians,[81] with Serbs, Greeks, and Ukrainians, Russians being the most numerous.[90] Germany has Europe's third-largest Jewish population (after France and the United Kingdom).[91] In 2004, twice as many Jews from former Soviet republics settled in Germany as in Israel, bringing the total Jewish population to more than 200,000, compared to 30,000 prior to German reunification. Large cities with significant Jewish populations include Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich.[92] Around 250,000 active Buddhists live in Germany; 50% of them are Asian immigrants.[93]

2011 Census

Census results:

Religion (2011 German Census)

  Catholic Church (30.8%)
  EKD (30.3%)
  Other, atheist or unspecified (38.9%)


Main article: Languages of Germany

German is the only official and most widely spoken language. Standard German is understood throughout the country.

Minority languages

Bilingual German-Sorbian city limit signs

Danish, Low German, the Sorbian languages (Lower Sorbian and Upper Sorbian), and the two Frisian languages, Saterfrisian and North Frisian, are officially recognized and protected as minority languages by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in their respective regions. With speakers of Romany living in all parts of Germany, the federal government has promised to take action to protect the language. Until now, only Hesse has followed Berlin's announcement, and agreed on implementing concrete measures to support Romany speakers.

Implementation of the Charter is poor. The monitoring reports on charter implementation in Germany show many provisions unfulfilled.

Protected Minority Languages in Germany
Language States
Danish Schleswig-Holstein
North Frisian Schleswig-Holstein
Saterland Frisian Lower Saxony
Low German Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, North Rhine-Westphalia
Upper Sorbian Saxony
Lower Sorbian Brandenburg
Romany Hesse de facto, de jure in all states (see text)

High German dialects

City limits sign; this city is called Emlichheim in High German and Emmelkamp in Low German

German dialects some quite distinct from the standard language are used in everyday speech, especially in rural regions. Many dialects, for example the Upper German varieties, are to some degree cultivated as symbols of regional identity and have their own literature, theaters and some TV programming. While speaking a dialect outside its native region might be frowned upon, in their native regions some dialects can be spoken by all social classes. . Nevertheless, partly due to the prevalence of Standard German in media, the use of dialects has declined over the past century, especially in the younger population.

The social status of different German dialects can vary greatly. The Alemannic and Bavarian dialects of the south are positively valued by their speakers and can be used in almost all social circumstances. The Saxonian and Thuringian dialects have less prestige and are subject to derision. While Bavarian and Alemannic have kept much of their distinctiveness, the Middle German dialects, which are closer to Standard German, have lost some of their distinctive lexical and grammatical features and tend to be only pronunciation variants of Standard German.

Low Saxon dialects

Low Saxon is officially recognized as a language on its own, but despite this fact, there's little official action taken on fostering the language. Historically one third of Germany's territory and population was Low Saxon speaking. No data was ever collected on the actual number of speakers, but today the number of speakers ranges around 5 million persons. Despite this relatively high number of speakers there is very little coverage in the media (mostly on NDR TV, no regular programming) and very little education in or on the language. The language is not fixed as part of the school curriculum and Low Saxon is used as a medium of instruction in one school only in the whole Germany (as a "model project" in primary school sided by education in Standard German). As a consequence the younger generation refused to adopt the native language of their parents. Language prevalence dropped from more than 90% (depending on the exact region) in the 1930s to less than 5% today. This accounts for a massive intergenerational gap in language use. Older people regularly use the language and take private initiative to maintain the language, but the lack of innovative potential of the younger generation hinders language maintenance. The language too has an own literature (around 150 published books every year) and there are many theatres (mostly lay stages, but some professional ones, like for example Ohnsorg-Theater).

Use of Low Saxon is mainly restricted to use among acquaintances, like family members, neighbours and friends. A meeting of a village council can be held almost completely in Low Saxon if all participants know each other (as long as written protocols are written in Standard German), but a single foreigner can make the whole switching to Standard German.

The Low Saxon dialects are different in their status too. There's a north-south gradient in language maintenance. The Southern dialects of Westfalian, Eastfalian and Brandenburgish have had much stronger speaker losses, than the northern coastal dialects of Northern Low Saxon. While Eastfalian has lost speakers to Standard German, Westfalian has lost speakers to Standard German and Standard German based regiolect of the Rhine-Ruhr area. Brandenburgish speakers mostly switched to the Standard German-based regiolect of Berlin. Brandenburgish is almost completely replaced by the Berlin regiolect. Northern Low Saxon speakers switched mostly to pure Standard German.

Foreign languages

English is the most common foreign language and almost universally taught by the secondary level; it is also taught at elementary level in some states. Other commonly-taught languages are French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian. Dutch is taught in states bordering the Netherlands, and Polish in the eastern states bordering Poland. Latin and Ancient Greek are part of the classical education syllabus offered in many secondary schools.

According to a 2004 survey, two-thirds of Germany's citizens have at least basic knowledge of English. About 20% consider themselves to be speakers of French, followed by speakers of Russian (7%), Italian (6.1%), and Spanish (5.6%). The relatively high number of Russian speakers is a result of massive immigration from the former Soviet Union to Germany for almost 10 consecutive years, plus its having been learned in school by many older former East Germans.

See also


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