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The majority of the world's 100 million German speakers are found in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Significant numbers of German speakers can also be found in Poland, Romania, Paraguay, Kazakhstan, Italy, Hungary and Belgium. German is the official language of Germany and Austria and is a co-official language in Switzerland.

German is part of the West Germanic group of languages within the Indo-European language family and is a close relative of English, Frisian and Dutch. The standard form of German is called Hochdeutsch, or High German, referring to the southern highlands dialect from which it is derived.

Hochdeutsch is the standard language of literature, newspapers, television and schools, not only in Germany, but also in Austria and the German-speaking parts of Switzerland. Despite the standardization of the spoken language, Hochdeutsch, there is still a tremendous amount of dialectal variety within the language in Germany, Austria and the German-speaking parts of Switzerland.

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