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Article Na­tion­al mi­nori­ties

Four officially recognized national minorities live in Germany: the Danes, the Frisians, the German Sinti and Roma, and the Sorbs.

They receive special protection and specific funding from the federal and state governments.

The Federal Government regards as national minorities those population groups who meet the following five criteria:

  • they are German nationals;
  • they differ from the majority population in having their own language, culture and history and thus their own distinct identity;
  • they wish to maintain this identity;
  • they have traditionally been resident in Germany (usually for centuries);
  • they live in Germany within traditional settlement areas.

While the Danes, Frisians and Sorbs are traditionally settled in certain geographically defined regions, German Sinti and Roma have traditionally lived in almost all parts of Germany, mainly in small groups.

The fact that they have traditionally resided in Germany distinguishes the national minorities from immigrants, who have not traditionally resided in Germany. Unlike Jewish groups in some other countries, Germany’s Jewish community does not consider itself a national minority, but a religious community.

The size of the national minority groups in Germany is only an estimate: No population or socio-economic statistics on the basis of ethnicity have been gathered in the Federal Republic of Germany since the end of World War II. One reason for this is the persecution of ethnic minorities under the Nazi regime; another reason is considerations of international law. According to the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, membership of a minority is an individual personal decision and is neither registered, reviewed nor contested by the government authorities.

Further information:

German website of the Federal Government Commissioner for Matters Related to Ethnic German Resettlers and National Minorities

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