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People, Language & Religion


Ethnic Germans constitute 91.5 percent of the population. Turks, many of them guest workers and their children, constitute 2.4 percent of the population, and various others account for the remainder. Germany officially recognises four ethnic minorities: the Danes, the Friesians, the Sinti and Roma and the Sorbs. The Danish minority, which numbers about 50,000, lives primarily in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein. The Friesians live along the North Sea coast. The approximately 70,000 Sinti and Roma live throughout Germany. Some 20,000 Lower Sorbs live in the state of Brandenburg, while some 40,000 Upper Sorbs live in the state of Saxony. The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities has protected these four groups since Germany ratified the Council of Europe convention in 1997.


German is the predominant language, but some Turkish immigrants speak their native language. In addition, the four officially recognised national minorities have their own languages: Danish, North and Sater Friesian, Romany, and Lower and Upper Sorbian. The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages promotes the languages of the four national minorities.


The reunification of Germany in 1990 ended some forty years of religious, as well as political separation. Freedom of religion is guaranteed, and although there is no official state religion, churches can receive financial support from the government.

In 2002, the Evangelical Church, a federation of several church bodies including Lutheran, Uniate, and Reformed Protestant Churches, had some 27 million members, who constituted 33% of the population. The Catholic Church also had 27 million members, or 33% of the population. Muslims made up approximately 3% to 4% of the populace with 2.8 to 3.2 million practitioners. Orthodox churches claimed 1.1 million members, or 1.3% of the people. The Greek Orthodox Church is the largest, followed by Romanian, Serbian, Russian (Moscow Patriarchate and Orthodox), Syrian and Armenian Apostolic. Other Christian churches had about 1 million subscribers, or1.2% of the population. The largest of these are the New Apostolic Church (430,000 members) Jehovah's Witnesses (165,000 members), Baptists (87,000 members), and Methodists (66,000 members).

A total of some 87,500 members of Jewish congregations lived in Germany in 2002, making up 0.1% of the populace. According to press reports, the Jewish population is growing rapidly, with more than 100,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union joining the country's established Jewish population since 1990. There were also small numbers of Unification Church members, members of the Church of Scientology, Hare Krishnas, members of the Johannish Church, the International Grail Movement, Ananda Marga, and Sri Chinmoy. Approximately 21.8 million people, or 26.6% of the population, belonged to smaller religious organisations or had no religious affiliation at all.





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