Summary by language size

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Table 2 summarizes the distribution of languages in the world by number of L1 speakers. The Population range column categorizes the languages by the number of digits in their population of first-language speakers.

The Count column gives the number of living languages within the specified population range. The Percent column gives the share of the count for that population range as a percentage of the total number of languages given at the bottom of the Count column. The Cumulative column gives the cumulative sum of the percentage of languages going from top to bottom in the column.

The Total column gives the total population of all the languages in the given range category. The second Percent column gives the percentage of the total country population as estimated at the bottom of the Total column. Note that if the table has a row for Unknown, representing languages for which the Ethnologue does not have a population estimate; the calculation of population percentage is not able to take those languages into account. The final Cumulative column gives the cumulative sums of the population 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 found. The Total Countries column gives the number of countries in the world in which the language is established and thus listed with an entry on the page for that language. The Speakers column gives the number of first-language speakers in millions. The table rows in italic type represent macrolanguages (see Macrolanguages in “The problem of language identification”); 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 that have at least one million speakers.

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

Population rangeLiving languagesNumber of speakers
CountPercentCumulativeTotalPercentCumulative
100,000,000 to 999,999,999 8 0.1 0.1% 2,709,546,730 40.78777 40.78777%
10,000,000 to 99,999,999 82 1.2 1.3% 2,609,446,190 39.28092 80.06869%
1,000,000 to 9,999,999 307 4.3 5.6% 948,917,508 14.28439 94.35308%
100,000 to 999,999 956 13.5 19.1% 305,209,791 4.59443 98.94751%
10,000 to 99,999 1,811 25.5 44.6% 61,803,881 0.93036 99.87787%
1,000 to 9,999 1,980 27.9 72.5% 7,630,091 0.11486 99.99272%
100 to 999 1,064 15.0 87.4% 470,472 0.00708 99.99981%
10 to 99 329 4.6 92.1% 12,268 0.00018 99.99999%
1 to 9 144 2.0 94.1% 584 0.00001 100.00000%
0 219 3.1 97.2% 0 0.00000 100.00000%
Unknown 199 2.8 100.0%
Totals 7,099 100.0 6,643,037,515 100.00000

Table 3. Languages with at least 50 million first-language speakers

RankLanguagePrimary CountryTotal
Countries
Speakers
(millions)
1 Chinese [zho] China 37 1,284
  Chinese, Gan [gan] China 1 21.7
  Chinese, Hakka [hak] China 13 47.8
  Chinese, Huizhou [czh] China 1 4.60
  Chinese, Jinyu [cjy] China 1 46.1
  Chinese, Mandarin [cmn] China 14 898
  Chinese, Min Bei [mnp] China 2 10.9
  Chinese, Min Dong [cdo] China 6 9.11
  Chinese, Min Nan [nan] China 11 48.3
  Chinese, Min Zhong [czo] China 1 3.10
  Chinese, Pu-Xian [cpx] China 3 2.56
  Chinese, Wu [wuu] China 1 80.1
  Chinese, Xiang [hsn] China 1 36.6
  Chinese, Yue [yue] China 13 72.9
2 Spanish [spa] Spain 31 437
3 English [eng] United Kingdom 106 372
4 Arabic [ara] Saudi Arabia 57 295
  Arabic, Algerian Spoken [arq] Algeria 2 29.3
  Arabic, Chadian Spoken [shu] Chad 4 1.56
  Arabic, Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Spoken [avl] Egypt 4 1.92
  Arabic, Egyptian Spoken [arz] Egypt 1 64.5
  Arabic, Gulf Spoken [afb] Kuwait 10 7.45
  Arabic, Hijazi Spoken [acw] Saudi Arabia 2 14.1
  Arabic, Libyan Spoken [ayl] Libya 3 4.80
  Arabic, Mesopotamian Spoken [acm] Iraq 4 15.4
  Arabic, Moroccan Spoken [ary] Morocco 3 23.3
  Arabic, Najdi Spoken [ars] Saudi Arabia 4 4.49
  Arabic, North Levantine Spoken [apc] Syria 3 26.1
  Arabic, North Mesopotamian Spoken [ayp] Iraq 3 8.59
  Arabic, Omani Spoken [acx] Oman 4 2.31
  Arabic, Sa’idi Spoken [aec] Egypt 1 22.4
  Arabic, Sanaani Spoken [ayn] Yemen 2 7.85
  Arabic, South Levantine Spoken [ajp] Jordan 4 8.44
  Arabic, Sudanese Spoken [apd] Sudan 3 28.9
  Arabic, Ta’izzi-Adeni Spoken [acq] Yemen 3 7.51
  Arabic, Tunisian Spoken [aeb] Tunisia 1 11.6
5 Hindi [hin] India 5 260
6 Bengali [ben] Bangladesh 4 242
7 Portuguese [por] Portugal 13 219
8 Russian [rus] Russian Federation 19 154
9 Japanese [jpn] Japan 2 128
10 Lahnda [lah] Pakistan 6 119
  Hindko, Northern [hno] Pakistan 1 1.88
  Pahari-Potwari [phr] Pakistan 2 3.54
  Punjabi, Western [pnb] Pakistan 2 92.7
  Saraiki [skr] Pakistan 2 20.1
11 Javanese [jav] Indonesia 3 84.4
12 Korean [kor] South Korea 7 77.2
13 German, Standard [deu] Germany 27 76.8
14 French [fra] France 53 76.1
15 Telugu [tel] India 2 74.2
16 Marathi [mar] India 1 71.8
17 Turkish [tur] Turkey 8 71.1
18 Urdu [urd] Pakistan 6 69.1
19 Vietnamese [vie] Viet Nam 3 68.1
20 Tamil [tam] India 7 68.0
21 Italian [ita] Italy 13 63.4
22 Persian [fas] Iran 30 61.9
  Dari [prs] Afghanistan 3 8.99
  Persian, Iranian [pes] Iran 7 52.9
23 Malay [msa] Malaysia 16 60.8
  Banjar [bjn] Indonesia 2 3.50
  Indonesian [ind] Indonesia 1 23.2
  Malay [zlm] Malaysia 3 16.1
  Malay, Central [pse] Indonesia 1 1.59
  Malay, Jambi [jax] Indonesia 1 1.00
  Malay, Kedah [meo] Malaysia 2 2.60
  Malay, Pattani [mfa] Thailand 1 1.00
  Minangkabau [min] Indonesia 1 5.53
  Musi [mui] Indonesia 1 3.10
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