33,000 in India (2007), decreasing. Ethnic population: 278,000 (2007). Total users in all countries: 36,000.
Jharkhand, Chotanagpur region, Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Gumla, Santal Pargana, Lohardaga, West Singhbhum, East Singhbhum, Saraikela Kharsawan, and Dhanbad districts; Odisha, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, and Keonjhar districts; West Bengal, Jalpaiguri and West Medinipur districts; Assam, on tea estates.
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].