Austria is a nation with around 8.6 million residents. It was part of the Holy Roman Empire until 1806, after which it became part of the German Confederation until the Austro-Prussian War in 1866. Austrian German is the official language of Austria, with Alemannic and Austro-Bavarian as the major unofficial languages. After World War I, the Austrian Monarchy broke p and the region became part of the German Republic. The unification of Germany and Austria, however, was forbidden by the treaty of Saint Germain en Laye. Over the years, Austria has tried to build its national identity. While the majority of people currently identify themselves as Austrians, a minority still feels German. Over 91% of the population are known as ethnic Austrians. Serbs are one of the largest ethnic groups in Austria, due to the large number of Serb immigrants who came to Austria during the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and after the Second World War. Other important minority groups in Austria include Croats, Hungarians, Slovenes and Turks, all of which have shaped and influenced the diverse linguistic landscape of Austria.

Austrian German is spoken by most Austrians and used in educational facilities all over the country. The media also uses German as a means of communication, and all official announcements and government administrative work use Austrian German.

Other significant unofficial languages of Austria include Alemannic and Austro-Bavarian. Alemannic is a group of dialects belonging to the Upper German subdivision of the Germanic family of languages. Alemannic is mainly spoken in Vorarlberg in the west. Outside Vorarlberg, Austro-Bavarian is Austria’s primary native language. The two primary branches of Austro-Bavarian include the Central Austro-Bavarian dialects spoken in northern parts of Austria, and Southern Austro-Bavarian dialects spoken in the southern parts of the country.

Aside from these, there are also a number of languages spoken in Austria by the various minority groups, such as Turkish (spoken by 2.3% of the population, this is the largest minority language in Austria), Burgenland Croatian (spoken by 2.5% of Austrian residents, mainly those living in Burgenland), Hungarian (spoken by about 1,000 Austrian residents living in Burgenland, this language has a traditionally important position in Austrian culture despite the low number of actual speakers of Hungarian in the country), Serbian (spoken by 2.2% of the country’s population), and Slovene (official language of Carinthia spoken by 0.3% of Austrians). The most important foreign languages spoken in Austria include English, French and Italian.


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