Country Information


The country names used as headings are not official names, but are the commonly known names of the countries in English. Ethnologue uses the ISO 3166 standard as a starting point 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. We generally do not create a separate country section for smaller geopolitical entities which have only one widespread language. 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 the country are also included.

Sovereignty status. If the geopolitical entity 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. Country populations from these sources may be estimates based on population trends rather than the results of actual head counts.

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 working function at the nation-wide level are listed here, whether this is by statute or is the de facto situation. For a fuller discussion of what we mean by a working function, see Official recognition .

Literacy rate. This is an estimate of the percentage of the population in the country that is literate in any language. Data are primarily from UNESCO but may 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 summary 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 incomplete. Updated information on immigrant languages is welcomed.

General references. This lists author-year citations for published sources of general information about the country and its languages including sources which we may have consulted in developing the language maps of the country. See Bibliography for the full bibliographic references for the cited works. This list offers suggestions for those who wish to begin exploring the language situation of the country. It is not intended to be exhaustive and sources for specific languages are included in the individual language entries. 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). The deaf sign languages listed in language entries are those used exclusively within deaf communities. 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 officially recognized nationality with which the individual languages are associated is reported in Status section of the language entries.

Language counts (with profile graphic). The number of individual languages in 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 languages which are indigenous or non-indigenous in the country and 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 represented visually in a country profile histogram that shows the relative number of languages in each of these five summary vitality 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 encompass, the individual languages that are already counted.