German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The German language is most similar to other languages within the West Germanic language branch, including Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. It also contains close similarities in vocabulary to Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although they belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
One of the major languages of the world, German is a native language to almost 100 million people worldwide and the most widely spoken native language in the European Union. German is the third most commonly spoken foreign language in the EU after English and French, making it the second biggest language in the EU in terms of overall speakers. German is also the second most widely taught foreign language in the EU after English at primary school level (but third after English and French at lower secondary level), the fourth most widely taught non-English language in the US (after Spanish, French and American Sign Language), the second most commonly used scientific language and the third most widely used language on websites after English and Russian. The German-speaking countries are ranked fifth in terms of annual publication of new books, with one tenth of all books (including e-books) in the world being published in German. In the United Kingdom, German and French are the most sought-after foreign languages for businesses (with 49% and 50% of businesses identifying these two languages as the most useful, respectively).