What continents have the most indigenous languages?


Asia has the most indigenous languages, closely followed by Africa.

Combined, they account for nearly 2/3 of the world's languages. Myriad factors – terrain, cultural history, the spread of ancient civilizations – play into how many languages have originated within a certain area.

84% of people use Asian or European languages

Above we see where languages come from – mostly in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. But how many people actually speak them? The vast majority of us use Asian or European languages, which may not be surprising given the sheer population of certain areas as well as colonial expansion in recent centuries. By contrast, Pacific languages – which account for 18.5% of the world’s languages – are spoken by so few people that the region barely even registers on our population graphic below.

Pacific languages, along with North and South American, have just 1,000 speakers each on average.

But together, they represent more than a third of our world’s languages. These tiny communities may not have a loud voice on the global stage, but they hold much of our shared linguistic heritage.

Some countries have hundreds of languages. In fact, more than twice the number of languages spoken across Europe can be found in Papua New Guinea alone. To learn more, check out our guide on the countries with the most languages.

About Ethnologue Ethnologue is the research center for language intelligence. We help our clients identify languages, find where they’re spoken, get population estimates, and more.
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