The German people

The German people (German: Deutsche) are an ethnic group, in the sense of sharing a common German culture, descent, and speaking the German language as a mother tongue. Within Germany, Germans are defined by citizenship (Federal Germans, Bundesdeutsche), distinguished from people of German ancestry (Deutschstämmige). Historically, in the context of the German Empire (1871–1918), German citizens (Imperial Germans, Reichsdeutsche) were distinguished from ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche).

Of approximately 100 million native speakers of German in the world, about 66–75 million consider themselves Germans. There are an additional 80 million people of German ancestry (mainly in the USA, Brazil, Argentina, France and Canada) who are not native speakers of German. Thus, the total number of Germans worldwide lies between 66 and 160 million, depending on the criteria applied (native speakers, single-ancestry ethnic Germans, partial German ancestry, etc.). In the U.S., 43 million, or 15.2% of the population, identified as German American in the census of 2000. Although the percentage has declined, it is still more than any other group. According to the U.S. Census Bureau – 2006 American Community Survey, approximately 51 million citizens identify themselves as having German ancestry.