The German language is spoken by some 100 million people as a native language, and is the only official language of Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein. German is also an official language or recognised minor language in other countries, including Belgium, Switzerland and Italy. “Hochdeutsch” or Standard German was mainly a written language until around 1800. Today it is the language most often used in the media and for written works. It is also the second most common language for scientific publications, with a large percentage of research and development texts written in German. Spoken German is characterised by a variety of distinctive and highly valued dialects.