Due to Germany’s imperialistic past, its language is one of the most popular in the world. It is, in fact, spoken all around the globe by diverse communities of native people and immigrants. So even if you never come to Germany, knowing the language can open many doors, save you time and help bypass various problems while travelling abroad. If you speak German, you can literally wander all around the world and be understood in the most unexpected places.
While German is an official language in some countries of middle Europe (these are Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Liechtenstein), it is spoken in many other European countries as a minority language. German-speaking communities can also be found outside Europe. Here are some of such unknown havens for you to visit and find a little bit of Germany in.
Brazil has one and a half million German speakers and most of them live in the southern states of Rio Grande do Sul, Espírito Santo and Santa Catarina. There is a number of cities and villages in Santa Catarina where German is the main language of communication.
Pomerode, considered the most German city in Brazil, is a good example. Its German influence can not only be felt in language, but also in architecture, cuisine and other cultural dimensions of the local society. Pomerode receives many tourists every year, so there are always things to do here.
You can stop by the zoo or go on a wildlife tour, visit a theatre or numerous museums if you’re interested in the town’s history and culture. Traditional music, dances and all kinds of fun practiced by the locals themselves can be encountered at any time of the year. As a side note, if you venture outside the town to the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, you can see right whales in summer or migrating penguins in winter. Away from the coast you will find spectacular mountain ranges.
Blumenau is another city, similar to Pomerode, but much bigger and famous for Oktoberfest of Blumenau which attracts over a million tourists every year. That makes it the biggest one of them all, except the original festivity in Munich. But you don’t have to visit during October to experience German folk traditions. The locals value their custom with a fervour rarely seen in Germany itself. Besides, the German dialect they speak (in all the states mentioned above) is actually similar to what you would have heard in 19th century Germany. So it’s definitely worth the visit.
German is the 2nd language of North Dakota and is spoken almost just as widely in its southern counterpart. A small and cosy town of Wishek, ND, founded by Germans from Russia in the beginning of the 20th century, is famous for its annual Sauerkraut Day that is held the second Wednesday of every October. Last year was the 90th anniversary of this unique tradition. Great music and more than a hundred gallons of delicious sauerkraut is what draws a whole lot of people to town every year. Another thing that the town is famous for is German Sausage at Stan’s Supervalu, where they
Around two percent of Namibian population are of German descent, and almost fifty thousand people speak the language. The majority of speakers live in the capital Windhoek and in smaller cities of Swakopmund, Lüderitz and Otjiwarongo. The latter city (its name means beautiful place in Otjiherero!) is a place you should definitely visit because over one third of its population speaks German. Not only that, the city is home to a number of exotic attractions for tourists, such as Crocodile farm where you can see these formidable creatures up close or even take a selfie with them! Cheetah conservation farms are situated in the city’s vicinity as well. Otjiwarongo Summer festival and the German Carnival are something everyone should experience.
Talking about German carnivals, the best one of its kind is annually held in Windhoek, better known by its abbreviation – WIKA. One of its main goals, besides having great fun, is to uphold true German traditions. Over two weeks of live music and dance, parades, performances, good food, German beer and a nice blend of German and African culture is what you will find there, and much more. If you are not fortunate enough to be in Namibia during the festivals, Windhoek has more than enough museums, parks, reserves, activities (such as horse riding) and places to meet people of German ancestry and have a chat in their own language.
Why not stop in Europe for a while? That’s where German is the most popular of course, but not only in Germany or countries where German is an official language. Italy, for example, is not among them, but its northernmost region of South Tyrol fits right into our list (yep, it’s in the north, but it’s called South Tyrol, because other Tyrols are not in Italy). Despite the fact that South Tyrol is a part of Italy, German is the dominant language of the region.
There are a number of towns to be visited in South Tyrol. Its capital, Bolzano, has a medieval city centre with many churches, a cathedral and famous museums with Ötzi the Iceman in one of them (namely, South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology). If you’re into nature, you can go skiing in the mountains, see their tops burning with ablaze beacons during summer, take a hike in Terlano Wine Trail (and learn about wine along the way), visit numerous geological parks, the Dolomites (included in UNESCO world heritage), the astonishing lake of Caldaro and so much more.
As for culture, pretty much every village in the region has a music band in traditional costume and you can hear them on various occasions. The region is known for its Christmas and Easter traditions which are actively followed today. For example, Klöckeln is a Christmas advent tradition, where masked people move from house to house singing songs, ringing bells and asking for gifts, representing a very old and symbolic custom of the region. If you get the chance, see it for yourself or even participate! It’s a unique region to explore in its entirety and you don’t need any other language except German to get by!
The world is full of amazing German-speaking regions, cities and villages. Every each of them is different, every each of them was born out of a mixture of different cultures, waiting for you to explore. So there is one more benefit of learning German. One that barely anyone thinks of. You can travel to a whole lot of places all around the world, Germany being the least original of them!