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% 2,736,892,880 40.38033 40.38033%
10,000,000 to 99,999,999 85 1.2 1.3% 2,699,413,660 39.82735 80.20768%
1,000,000 to 9,999,999 308 4.3 5.7% 962,414,866 14.19954 94.40722%
100,000 to 999,999 969 13.7 19.3% 309,471,921 4.56597 98.97319%
10,000 to 99,999 1,803 25.4 44.7% 61,598,950 0.90884 99.88203%
1,000 to 9,999 1,969 27.7 72.5% 7,516,041 0.11089 99.99292%
100 to 999 1,047 14.8 87.2% 466,977 0.00689 99.99981%
10 to 99 316 4.5 91.7% 12,150 0.00018 99.99999%
1 to 9 151 2.1 93.8% 608 0.00001 100.00000%
0 248 3.5 97.3% 0 0.00000 100.00000%
Unknown 193 2.7 100.0%
Totals 7,097 100.0 6,777,788,053 100.00000

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

RankLanguagePrimary CountryTotal
Countries
Speakers
(millions)
1 Chinese [zho] China 38 1,299
  Chinese, Gan [gan] China 1 21.9
  Chinese, Hakka [hak] China 13 48.2
  Chinese, Huizhou [czh] China 1 4.60
  Chinese, Jinyu [cjy] China 1 46.5
  Chinese, Mandarin [cmn] China 13 909
  Chinese, Min Bei [mnp] China 2 10.9
  Chinese, Min Dong [cdo] China 6 9.12
  Chinese, Min Nan [nan] China 11 49.8
  Chinese, Min Zhong [czo] China 1 3.10
  Chinese, Pu-Xian [cpx] China 3 2.57
  Chinese, Wu [wuu] China 1 80.7
  Chinese, Xiang [hsn] China 1 36.9
  Chinese, Yue [yue] China 13 73.4
2 Spanish [spa] Spain 31 442
3 English [eng] United Kingdom 118 378
4 Arabic [ara] Saudi Arabia 58 315
  Arabic, Algerian Spoken [arq] Algeria 2 29.4
  Arabic, Chadian Spoken [shu] Chad 4 1.69
  Arabic, Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Spoken [avl] Egypt 4 2.24
  Arabic, Egyptian Spoken [arz] Egypt 1 64.4
  Arabic, Gulf Spoken [afb] Kuwait 10 8.84
  Arabic, Hadrami Spoken [ayh] Yemen 1 4.57
  Arabic, Hijazi Spoken [acw] Saudi Arabia 3 14.5
  Arabic, Libyan Spoken [ayl] Libya 3 4.85
  Arabic, Mesopotamian Spoken [acm] Iraq 4 15.6
  Arabic, Moroccan Spoken [ary] Morocco 3 27.5
  Arabic, Najdi Spoken [ars] Saudi Arabia 4 4.05
  Arabic, North Levantine Spoken [apc] Syria 5 24.2
  Arabic, North Mesopotamian Spoken [ayp] Iraq 4 8.69
  Arabic, Omani Spoken [acx] Oman 3 2.43
  Arabic, Sa’idi Spoken [aec] Egypt 1 22.4
  Arabic, Sanaani Spoken [ayn] Yemen 1 11.4
  Arabic, South Levantine Spoken [ajp] Jordan 4 11.5
  Arabic, Sudanese Spoken [apd] Sudan 3 31.9
  Arabic, Ta’izzi-Adeni Spoken [acq] Yemen 2 10.5
  Arabic, Tunisian Spoken [aeb] Tunisia 1 11.6
5 Hindi [hin] India 4 260
6 Bengali [ben] Bangladesh 4 243
7 Portuguese [por] Portugal 15 223
8 Russian [rus] Russian Federation 18 154
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 Turkish [tur] Turkey 8 78.5
13 Korean [kor] South Korea 6 77.2
14 French [fra] France 53 76.8
15 German, Standard [deu] Germany 28 76.0
16 Telugu [tel] India 2 74.8
17 Marathi [mar] India 1 71.8
18 Urdu [urd] Pakistan 7 69.2
19 Vietnamese [vie] Viet Nam 3 68.0
20 Tamil [tam] India 7 66.7
21 Italian [ita] Italy 14 64.8
22 Persian [fas] Iran 29 61.5
  Dari [prs] Afghanistan 3 8.99
  Persian, Iranian [pes] Iran 7 52.5
23 Malay [msa] Malaysia 18 60.7
  Banjar [bjn] Indonesia 2 3.50
  Indonesian [ind] Indonesia 1 23.1
  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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