The country names used as headings are not official names, but are the commonly known names of the countries in English. Ethnologue follows the ISO 3166 standard in determining what geopolitical entities to list as countries. As a consequence, some political dependencies are listed in a country section of their own while others are included within the larger country with which they are associated. The Ethnologue takes no position on issues of national sovereignty by this arrangement which is intended solely to facilitate the navigation of the published information.
The information elements reported on the main page for each country are as follows:
Official name. If the name used by the country in its official documents differs from the popular English name as given in the heading, the official name of the country is listed here. There may be more than one official name listed in more than one language. In a few cases, additional or former names used to identify a country are also included.
Sovereignty status. If the country is not a fully sovereign nation, a comment is given here to describe its status in relation to the sovereign state with which it is associated.
Population. These figures are taken from the most recent national census data where available or are the current estimated population from the United Nations or another reliable source, which is identified.
General remarks. The country information may also contain general remarks about the political status, the geography, or the population.
Principal languages. Languages that have been identified as having a function at the nation-wide level are listed here. This includes all the languages that function at the national level as a working language or a language of identity or both, whether this is by statute or is the de facto situation. For a fuller discussion, see Official recognition.
Literacy rate. This is an estimate of the percentage of the population in the country that is literate in any language of the country. Data are primarily from UNESCO but may also come from various other sources if more recent estimates are available.
Immigrant languages. Immigrant languages are categorized as such if they are spoken by relatively recently arrived or transient populations which do not have a well-established, multi-generational community of language users in the country. Population estimates, if known, are shown in parentheses immediately following the language name. These languages do not have a separate language entry in the language listings for the country and are not included in the language counts for the country. Given the transitory nature of these populations and the difficulty in obtaining up-to-date information, this listing may be inaccurate or incomplete.
General references. This lists author-year citations for published sources of general information about the country and its languages. See Bibliography for the full bibliographic references for the cited works. This list includes only suggestions for those who wish to begin to explore the language situation of the country in greater depth. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list and more current works may be missing. Suggestions for additional or more up-to-date general works on the languages of the country are solicited. See Updates and corrections for submission instructions.
Deaf population. There are millions of deaf and hearing-impaired people in the world. The country overview gives information on the number of audiologically deaf people (which is generally larger than the number of deaf people who use a sign language) and an approximate count of the deaf institutions (schools, clubs, associations). The deaf sign languages listed in language entries are those used exclusively within deaf communities. They do not include those, like Signed English, that spell out spoken languages used in the country. See the fuller discussion under The problem of language identification. Additional information on deafness and deaf sign languages is welcomed. See Updates and corrections for submission instructions.
Recognized nationalities. If the country has a system for officially recognizing nationalities within its borders, it is described here. The language entries for the country then use the Status section to identify the officially recognized nationality with which the individual languages are associated.
Language counts (with profile graphic). The number of individual languages indigenous to the country is given with a breakdown of the number of living languages versus extinct languages. The counts of living languages are further broken down into the summary categories of Institutional (EGIDS 0-4), Developing (EGIDS 5), Vigorous (EGIDS 6a), In trouble (EGIDS 6b-7), and Dying (EGIDS 8a-9). These counts are then represented visually in a country profile histogram that shows the relative number of languages in each of these five summary categories. These categories are represented by bars of purple, blue, green, yellow, and red, respectively. See Language status for a detailed discussion of the EGIDS levels that make up these summary categories. Macrolanguages are not included in these counts since they are not distinct from, but overlap, the individual languages that are already counted.