L1 users: 33,000 (2007), decreasing. Ethnic population: 278,000 (2007). Total users in all countries: 36,000.
Assam state: tea estates; Jharkhand state: Dhanbad, Gumla, Hazaribagh, Pargana, Ranchi, Santal Lohardaga, Saraikela Kharsawan, East Singhbhum, and West Singhbhum districts in Chota Nagpur area; Odisha state: Balasore, Keonjhar, and Mayurbhanj districts; West Bengal state: Jalpaiguri and West Medinipur districts.
Most in Jharkhand reported Santhali [sat], Sadri [sck] or Mundari [unr] as their mother tongue rather than Mahali. May be a threatened language. Home, village, private prayer for half the L1 speakers in Jharkhand. Also use Bengali [ben], Hindi [hin], Munda [unx], Mundari [unr], Odia [ory], Santhali [sat].
Latin script [Latn], used in Bangladesh.