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Statistical Summaries

Part I, “Languages of the World,” provides language-by-language information. This section steps back from the detail to offer a summary view of the world language situation. Specifically, it offers numerical tabulations of languages and number of speakers

Summary by language size

A striking fact shown in table 1 is that there is a huge disparity between the mean size of languages and the median size. It turns out that 389 (or nearly 6%) of the world’s languages have at least one million speakers and account for 94% of the world’s population. By contrast, the remaining 94% of languages are spoken by only 6% of the world’s people.

Table 2 summarizes the distribution of languages by size. The Count columns give the actual number of languages within the specified population range and the total number of first-language speakers of those languages. The Percent columns give the share of the count for that population range as a percentage of the total number listed at the bottom of the Count column. Note that there are still a few hundred languages for which the Ethnologue does not have a population estimate; the calculation of percentages for speakers is therefore not able to take those languages into account. The Cumulative columns give the cumulative sums of the percentages going from top to bottom in the column.

Table 3 lists the largest languages of the world in descending order of population of first-language speakers. The Primary Country column names the country in which the primary entry for the language is given in Part 1 of the book. The Total Countries column gives the number of countries in which the language is listed either with a full entry or as an immigrant language in the country header. The Speakers column gives the number of first-language speakers in millions. The table rows in italic type represent macrolanguages (see Introduction: Macrolanguages); in these cases the Total Countries and Speakers columns are totals for all the individual languages listed in the macrolanguage entry as members of the macrolanguage. Individual languages that are members of a macrolanguage are not counted in the ranking, but are listed as indented entries below the macrolanguage. Note that the indented listing of individual languages does not include all member languages; it includes only those over the threshold size given in the table caption.

Table 2. Distribution of languages by number of first-language speakers

Population range Living languages Number of speakers
Count Percent Cumulative Count Percent Cumulative
100,000,000 to 999,999,999 8 0.1 0.1% 2,308,548,848 38.73721 38.73721%
10,000,000 to 99,999,999 77 1.1 1.2% 2,346,900,757 39.38076 78.11797%
1,000,000 to 9,999,999 304 4.4 5.6% 951,916,458 15.97306 94.09103%
100,000 to 999,999 895 13.0 18.6% 283,116,716 4.75067 98.84170%
10,000 to 99,999 1,824 26.4 45.0% 60,780,797 1.01990 99.86160%
1,000 to 9,999 2,014 29.2 74.1% 7,773,810 0.13044 99.99204%
100 to 999 1,038 15.0 89.2% 461,250 0.00774 99.99978%
10 to 99 339 4.9 94.1% 12,560 0.00021 99.99999%
1 to 9 133 1.9 96.0% 521 0.00001 100.00000%
Unknown 277 4.0 100.0%
Totals 6,909 100.0 5,959,511,717 100.00000

Table 3. Languages with at least 3 million first-language speakers

Rank Language Primary Country Total
Countries
Speakers
(millions)
1 Chinese [zho] China 31 1,213
  Chinese, Gan [gan] China 1 20.6
  Chinese, Hakka [hak] China 17 30.0
  Chinese, Huizhou [czh] China 1 4.6
  Chinese, Jinyu [cjy] China 1 45.0
  Chinese, Mandarin [cmn] China 20 845
  Chinese, Min Bei [mnp] China 2 10.3
  Chinese, Min Dong [cdo] China 7 9.1
  Chinese, Min Nan [nan] China 10 47.3
  Chinese, Min Zhong [czo] China 1 3.1
  Chinese, Wu [wuu] China 2 77.2
  Chinese, Xiang [hsn] China 2 36.0
  Chinese, Yue [yue] China 20 55.5
2 Spanish [spa] Spain 44 329
3 English [eng] United Kingdom 112 328
4 Arabic [ara] Saudi Arabia 57 221
  Arabic, Algerian Spoken [arq] Algeria 6 22.4
  Arabic, Egyptian Spoken [arz] Egypt 10 54.0
  Arabic, Gulf Spoken [afb] Iraq 10 3.6
  Arabic, Hijazi Spoken [acw] Saudi Arabia 2 6.0
  Arabic, Libyan Spoken [ayl] Libya 3 4.3
  Arabic, Mesopotamian Spoken [acm] Iraq 5 15.1
  Arabic, Moroccan Spoken [ary] Morocco 10 21.0
  Arabic, Najdi Spoken [ars] Saudi Arabia 7 10.0
  Arabic, North Levantine Spoken [apc] Syria 16 14.4
  Arabic, North Mesopotamian Spoken [ayp] Iraq 4 6.3
  Arabic, Sa'idi Spoken [aec] Egypt 1 19.0
  Arabic, Sanaani Spoken [ayn] Yemen 1 7.6
  Arabic, South Levantine Spoken [ajp] Jordan 9 6.2
  Arabic, Sudanese Spoken [apd] Sudan 6 16.8
  Arabic, Ta'izzi-Adeni Spoken [acq] Yemen 8 7.1
  Arabic, Tunisian Spoken [aeb] Tunisia 5 9.4
5 Hindi [hin] India 20 182
6 Bengali [ben] Bangladesh 10 181
7 Portuguese [por] Portugal 37 178
8 Russian [rus] Russian Federation 33 144
9 Japanese [jpn] Japan 25 122
10 German, Standard [deu] Germany 43 90.3
11 Javanese [jav] Indonesia 5 84.6
12 Lahnda [lah] Pakistan 8 78.3
  Panjabi, Western [pnb] Pakistan 7 62.6
  Seraiki [skr] Pakistan 3 13.8
13 Telugu [tel] India 10 69.8
14 Vietnamese [vie] Viet Nam 23 68.6
15 Marathi [mar] India 5 68.1
16 French [fra] France 60 67.8
17 Korean [kor] Korea, South 33 66.3
18 Tamil [tam] India 17 65.7
19 Italian [ita] Italy 34 61.7
20 Urdu [urd] Pakistan 23 60.6
21 Turkish [tur] Turkey 36 50.8
22 Gujarati [guj] India 20 46.5
23 Polish [pol] Poland 23 40.0
24 Malay [msa] Malaysia 14 39.1
  Malay [zlm] Malaysia 7 10.3
25 Bhojpuri [bho] India 3 38.5
26 Awadhi [awa] India 2 38.3
27 Ukrainian [ukr] Ukraine 27 37.0
28 Malayalam [mal] India 11 35.9
29 Kannada [kan] India 3 35.3
30 Maithili [mai] India 2 34.7
31 Sunda [sun] Indonesia 1 34.0
32 Burmese [mya] Myanmar 5 32.3
33 Oriya [ori] India 2 31.7
34 Persian [fas] Iran 29 31.4
  Farsi, Eastern [prs] Afghanistan 3 7.6
  Farsi, Western [pes] Iran 27 23.9
35 Marwari [mwr] India 3 31.1
  Dhundari [dhd] India 1 9.0
  Marwari [rwr] India 3 5.6
  Merwari [wry] India 1 3.9
  Shekhawati [swv] India 1 3.0
36 Panjabi, Eastern [pan] India 12 28.2
37 Filipino [fil] Philippines 1 25.0
38 Hausa [hau] Nigeria 13 25.0
39 Tagalog [tgl] Philippines 8 23.9
40 Romanian [ron] Romania 20 23.4
41 Indonesian [ind] Indonesia 6 23.2
42 Dutch [nld] Netherlands 12 21.7
43 Sindhi [snd] Pakistan 8 21.4
44 Thai [tha] Thailand 5 20.4
45 Pushto [pus] Pakistan 9 20.3
  Pashto, Central [pst] Pakistan 1 7.9
  Pashto, Northern [pbu] Pakistan 7 9.7
46 Uzbek [uzb] Uzbekistan 14 20.3
  Uzbek, Northern [uzn] Uzbekistan 12 18.8
47 Rajasthani [raj] India 3 20.0
  Hadothi [hoj] India 1 4.7
  Malvi [mup] India 1 10.4
48 Yoruba [yor] Nigeria 6 19.4
49 Azerbaijani [aze] Iran 17 19.1
  Azerbaijani, North [azj] Azerbaijan 10 7.5
  Azerbaijani, South [azb] Iran 8 12.6
50 Igbo [ibo] Nigeria 1 18.0
51 Amharic [amh] Ethiopia 6 17.5
52 Chhattisgarhi [hne] India 1 17.5
53 Oromo [orm] Ethiopia 4 17.3
  Oromo, Borana-Arsi-Guji [gax] Ethiopia 3 3.8
  Oromo, Eastern [hae] Ethiopia 1 4.5
  Oromo, West Central [gaz] Ethiopia 2 8.9
54 Assamese [asm] India 4 16.8
55 Serbo-Croatian [hbs] Serbia 28 16.4
  Croatian [hrv] Croatia 14 5.5
  Serbian [srp] Serbia 22 7.0
56 Kurdish [kur] Iraq 32 16.0
  Kurdish, Central [ckb] Iraq 2 3.7
  Kurdish, Northern [kmr] Turkey 32 9.3
  Kurdish, Southern [sdh] Iran 2 3.0
57 Cebuano [ceb] Philippines 2 15.8
58 Sinhala [sin] Sri Lanka 8 15.6
59 Rangpuri [rkt] Bangladesh 2 15.0
60 Thai, Northeastern [tts] Thailand 1 15.0
61 Zhuang [zha] China 2 14.9
62 Malagasy [mlg] Madagascar 4 14.7
  Malagasy, Plateau [plt] Madagascar 4 7.5
63 Nepali [nep] Nepal 5 13.9
64 Somali [som] Somalia 13 13.9
65 Khmer, Central [khm] Cambodia 7 13.6
66 Madura [mad] Indonesia 2 13.6
67 Bavarian [bar] Austria 4 13.3
68 Greek [ell] Greece 38 13.1
69 Chittagonian [ctg] Bangladesh 1 13.0
70 Haryanvi [bgc] India 1 13.0
71 Magahi [mag] India 1 13.0
72 Deccan [dcc] India 1 12.8
73 Hungarian [hun] Hungary 14 12.5
74 Fulah [ful] Senegal 19 12.3
  Pulaar [fuc] Senegal 6 3.7
75 Catalan-Valencian-Balear [cat] Spain 18 11.5
76 Shona [sna] Zimbabwe 5 10.8
77 Zulu [zul] South Africa 6 10.3
78 Sylheti [syl] Bangladesh 10 10.3
79 Quechua [que] Peru 6 10.1
  Quechua, South Bolivian [quh] Bolivia 2 3.6
80 Kanauji [bjj] India 1 9.5
81 Czech [ces] Czech Republic 12 9.5
82 Lombard [lmo] Italy 3 9.1
83 Bulgarian [bul] Bulgaria 16 9.1
84 Uyghur [uig] China 15 8.8
85 Nyanja [nya] Malawi 6 8.7
86 Belarusan [bel] Belarus 16 8.6
87 Kazakh [kaz] Kazakhstan 14 8.3
88 Swedish [swe] Sweden 8 8.3
89 Akan [aka] Ghana 1 8.3
90 Xhosa [xho] South Africa 3 7.8
91 Bagheli [bfy] India 2 7.8
92 Haitian [hat] Haiti 10 7.7
93 Konkani [kok] India 4 7.6
  Konkani [knn] India 2 4.0
  Konkani, Goan [gom] India 3 3.6
94 Rwanda [kin] Rwanda 4 7.5
95 Gikuyu [kik] Kenya 1 7.2
96 Napoletano-Calabrese [nap] Italy 1 7.0
97 Baluchi [bal] Pakistan 8 7.0
  Balochi, Southern [bcc] Pakistan 4 3.4
98 Ilocano [ilo] Philippines 2 7.0
99 Varhadi-Nagpuri [vah] India 1 7.0
100 Turkmen [tuk] Turkmenistan 14 6.6
101 Tatar [tat] Russian Federation 19 6.5
102 German, Swiss [gsw] Switzerland 5 6.5
103 Hmong [hmn] China 10 6.5
104 Armenian [hye] Armenia 30 6.4
105 Luba-Kasai [lua] Democratic Republic of the Congo 1 6.3
106 Venetian [vec] Italy 4 6.2
107 Santali [sat] India 4 6.2
108 Vlaams [vls] Belgium 5 6.1
109 Sotho, Southern [sot] Lesotho 4 6.0
110 Thai, Northern [nod] Thailand 2 6.0
111 Lambadi [lmn] India 1 6.0
112 Kongo [kon] Democratic Republic of the Congo 3 6.0
  Koongo [kng] Democratic Republic of the Congo 3 5.0
113 Albanian [sqi] Albania 18 5.8
  Albanian, Gheg [aln] Serbia 9 4.2
  Albanian, Tosk [als] Albania 10 3.0
114 Tigrigna [tir] Ethiopia 6 5.8
115 Hiligaynon [hil] Philippines 2 5.8
116 Mongolian [mon] Mongolia 6 5.7
  Mongolian, Peripheral [mvf] China 2 3.4
117 Kashmiri [kas] India 4 5.6
118 Danish [dan] Denmark 8 5.6
119 Minangkabau [min] Indonesia 1 5.5
120 Sukuma [suk] Tanzania 1 5.4
121 Hebrew [heb] Israel 8 5.3
122 Mòoré [mos] Burkina Faso 7 5.1
123 Slovak [slk] Slovakia 12 5.0
124 Finnish [fin] Finland 7 5.0
125 Mewati [wtm] India 1 5.0
126 Afrikaans [afr] South Africa 12 4.9
127 Guarani [grn] Paraguay 5 4.9
  Guaraní, Paraguayan [gug] Paraguay 2 4.8
128 Mainfränkisch [vmf] Germany 1 4.9
129 Rundi [run] Burundi 4 4.9
130 Bikol [bik] Philippines 1 4.8
131 Sicilian [scn] Italy 1 4.8
132 Norwegian [nor] Norway 1 4.6
133 Mandingo [man] Guinea 8 4.5
134 Tswana [tsn] Botswana 4 4.5
135 Thai, Southern [sou] Thailand 1 4.5
136 Tajiki [tgk] Tajikistan 8 4.5
137 Dholuo [luo] Kenya 2 4.4
138 Georgian [kat] Georgia 13 4.3
139 Kituba [ktu] Democratic Republic of the Congo 1 4.2
140 Ganda [lug] Uganda 1 4.1
141 Sotho, Northern [nso] South Africa 2 4.1
142 Umbundu [umb] Angola 2 4.0
143 Wolof [wol] Senegal 6 4.0
144 Kamba [kam] Kenya 1 4.0
145 Kanuri [kau] Nigeria 6 4.0
  Kanuri, Central [knc] Nigeria 6 3.2
146 Domari [rmt] Iran 14 4.0
147 Musi [mui] Indonesia 1 3.9
148 Dogri [doi] India 1 3.8
149 Mina [myi] India 1 3.8
150 Tsonga [tso] South Africa 4 3.7
151 Bemba [bem] Zambia 4 3.6
152 Banjar [bjn] Indonesia 2 3.5
153 Aceh [ace] Indonesia 1 3.5
154 Bugis [bug] Indonesia 2 3.5
155 Bali [ban] Indonesia 1 3.3
156 Shan [shn] Myanmar 3 3.3
157 Gilaki [glk] Iran 1 3.3
158 Mazanderani [mzn] Iran 1 3.3
159 Jamaican Creole English [jam] Jamaica 7 3.2
160 Galician [glg] Spain 2 3.2
161 Lao [lao] Laos 7 3.2
162 Lithuanian [lit] Lithuania 19 3.2
163 Tamazight, Central Atlas [tzm] Morocco 3 3.2
164 Kabyle [kab] Algeria 3 3.1
165 Hassaniyya [mey] Mauritania 8 3.1
166 Éwé [ewe] Ghana 2 3.1
167 Piemontese [pms] Italy 3 3.1
168 Makhuwa [vmw] Mozambique 1 3.1
169 Godwari [gdx] India 1 3.0
170 Hunsrik [hrx] Brazil 5 3.0
171 Kimbundu [kmb] Angola 1 3.0
172 Tachelhit [shi] Morocco 3 3.0

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Part of the Ethnologue, 16th Edition, M. Paul Lewis, Editor.
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