History & Culture

The German-Speaking Countries

The German-speaking world includes seven countries, all but one in Europe. In five of these countries (Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Switzerland) German is the main or dominant language.

About 65 percent of the Swiss speak German, or more correctly, Swiss German. The rest speak French, Italian or Rhaeto-Romansh (one percent). In Luxembourg, French is used for street and place names, and for official business, but in daily life most of Luxembourg’s citizens speak a dialect of German called Lëtztebuergesch. In two other countries, Belgium and Namibia (a former German colony in Africa), German is a minority language spoken only in certain regions.

The Moselle river (die Mosel) flows from France into Germany where it flows into the Rhine at Koblenz. Seen here: the Mosel wine region near Beilstein, Germany.
PHOTO: Hyde Flippo

Our German Way & More website covers the three main German-speaking countries (Austria, Germany, Switzerland), with an emphasis on Germany.

Top Pages for History and Culture
Here is a selection of our relevant History & Culture pages. Also see the links in the left column.

Cultural Comparison Charts
Compare the customs and practices found in the USA and Germany – in a variety of areas, including housing, dining, driving, and the business world.

Notable People
Biographies of notable people from Austria, Germany and Switzerland – many of them famous. But even the lesser known ones are notable.

Germans in Hollywood
Germans, Austrians and Swiss in Hollywood

Holidays and Celebrations
What are the key holidays and other official and unofficial observations in Austria, Germany and Switzerland? A complete holiday calendar.

Christmas from A to Z
All about Christmas (Weihnachten) in Germany, Austria, Switzerland.

German Christmas Carols
Lyrics in German and English, plus video and information about each carol.

From preschool to university, learn what you need to know about the German education system.

Below you’ll find more pages dealing with various topics related to these three nations. First, we’ll start with German, the language all these countries have in common:

German Language | Deutsch
Our pages about the German language and learning more about German vocabulary and grammar.

Salzburg - Padlock bridge

Salzburg, Austria: The Hohensalzburg Fortress seen from the Salzach river and the padlock bridge. PHOTO: Hyde Flippo

Austria | Österreich
Austria is an Alpine nation that lies in the heart of western Europe. At one time, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its Habsburg rulers reigned over much of Europe. Today a much smaller Austria of seven million people is proud of its ability to balance its neutrality with its membership in the European Union. The scenic land sometimes seems like a huge national park with history everywhere you look.

Germany | Deutschland
History, culture, daily life in Germany, plus biographies of notable Germans.

  • Germany – Learn more about the history and culture of Germany.
  • Banks & Money – Money matters in Germany – plus banking history
  • The Euro – About the currency that first went into circulation in Austria and Germany in January 2002.
  • Germany: Facts and Figures – All about the Federal Republic of Germany
  • The Berlin Airlift – A history of what the Germans call die Luftbrücke
  • Berlin Wall Timeline – A chronology of the Berlin Wall – which begins before the Wall’s construction in 1961
  • Black History and Germany – African American history and Germany
  • Notable Germans include:
  • Germans in Hollywood – German, Austrian and Swiss people – past and present – in Hollywood
  • Holidays and Celebrations – Key holidays and other official and unofficial observations in Austria, Germany and Switzerland

Switzerland | Die Schweiz
Switzerland may be a small country, but it offers an almost unlimited range of geography, history and scenic attractions. Although centrally located in the heart of western Europe, Switzerland is not a member of the European Union (EU) or the Euro Zone. The Swiss franc (CHF) is one of the world’s most stable currencies.

  • Switzerland – Learn more about the history and culture of Switzerland.
  • History of Switzerland – A brief history of Switzerland.
  • Switzerland: Facts and Figures – All about the land of bankers and cuckoo clocks.
  • Notable Swiss People include:
    • Ursula Andress (1935- ) – The Swiss actress was the first Bond girl, in Dr. No.
    • Felix Bloch (Nobel Prize in Physics, 1952)
    • Friedrich Dürrenmatt (author)
    • Albert Einstein (also claimed by Germany and the US)
    • Roger Federer (tennis pro)
    • Marc Forster (1969- ) is a Swiss-German Hollywood film director (World War Z, Quantum of Solace).
    • Bruno Ganz (film actor)
  • Holidays and Celebrations – Key holidays and other official and unofficial observations in Austria, Germany and Switzerland

Travel & Tourism
To explore the history and culture of the German-speaking countries, you need to get around. Our Travel & Tourism pages can help you do that. Here are some highlights:

Next | Germany

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