World Languages

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Languages:

most-spoken language: English 15.1%, Mandarin Chinese 14.9%, Hindi 8.2%, Spanish 7.1%, French 3.7%, Arabic 3.7%, Bengali 3.5%, Russian 3.4%, Portuguese 3.1%, Indonesian 2.7% (2019 est.)

most-spoken first language: Mandarin Chinese 12.3%, Spanish 6%, English 5.1%, Arabic 5.1%, Hindi 3.5%, Bengali 3.3%, Portuguese 3%, Russian 2.1%, Japanese 1.7%, Punjabi, Western 1.3%, Javanese 1.1% (2018 est.)

note 1: the six UN languages - Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, Russian, and Spanish (Castilian) - are the mother tongue or second language of about 45% of the world's population, and are the official languages in more than half the states in the world; some 400 languages have more than a million first-language speakers (2018)

note 2: all told, there are estimated to be just over 7,100 languages spoken in the world; approximately 80% of these languages are spoken by less than 100,000 people; about 150 languages are spoken by less than 10 people; communities that are isolated from each other in mountainous regions often develop multiple languages; Papua New Guinea, for example, boasts about 840 separate languages (2019)

note 3: approximately 2,300 languages are spoken in Asia, 2,140, in Africa, 1,310 in the Pacific, 1,060 in the Americas, and 290 in Europe (2019)

Definition: This entry provides a listing of languages spoken in each country and specifies any that are official national or regional languages. When data is available, the languages spoken in each country are broken down according to the percent of the total population speaking each language as a first language. For those countries without available data, languages are listed in rank order based on prevalence, starting with the most-spoken language.

Source: CIA World Factbook - This page was last updated on December 7, 2019

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