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 listed with a full entry. 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% 2,529,403,578 40.20547 40.20547%
10,000,000 to 99,999,999 82 1.2 1.3% 2,480,078,977 39.42144 79.62691%
1,000,000 to 9,999,999 304 4.3 5.5% 915,659,448 14.55462 94.18154%
100,000 to 999,999 943 13.3 18.8% 296,136,843 4.70717 98.88870%
10,000 to 99,999 1,822 25.7 44.5% 61,802,734 0.98237 99.87107%
1,000 to 9,999 1,982 27.9 72.4% 7,633,408 0.12133 99.99241%
100 to 999 1,065 15.0 87.4% 464,299 0.00738 99.99979%
10 to 99 338 4.8 92.1% 12,777 0.00020 99.99999%
1 to 9 140 2.0 94.1% 560 0.00001 100.00000%
0 206 2.9 97.0% 0 0.00000 100.00000%
Unknown 212 3.0 100.0%
Totals 7,102 100.0 6,291,192,624 100.00000

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

RankLanguagePrimary CountryTotal
Countries
Speakers
(millions)
1 Chinese [zho] China 33 1,197
  Chinese, Gan [gan] China 1 20.6
  Chinese, Hakka [hak] China 13 30.1
  Chinese, Huizhou [czh] China 1 4.60
  Chinese, Jinyu [cjy] China 1 45.0
  Chinese, Mandarin [cmn] China 12 848
  Chinese, Min Bei [mnp] China 2 10.3
  Chinese, Min Dong [cdo] China 6 9.12
  Chinese, Min Nan [nan] China 10 46.6
  Chinese, Min Zhong [czo] China 1 3.10
  Chinese, Pu-Xian [cpx] China 3 2.56
  Chinese, Wu [wuu] China 1 77.2
  Chinese, Xiang [hsn] China 1 36.0
  Chinese, Yue [yue] China 10 62.2
2 Spanish [spa] Spain 31 399
3 English [eng] United Kingdom 101 335
4 Hindi [hin] India 4 260
5 Arabic [ara] Saudi Arabia 60 242
  Arabic, Algerian Spoken [arq] Algeria 1 26.7
  Arabic, Chadian Spoken [shu] Chad 4 1.14
  Arabic, Eastern Egyptian Bedawi Spoken [avl] Egypt 4 1.69
  Arabic, Egyptian Spoken [arz] Egypt 1 55.0
  Arabic, Gulf Spoken [afb] Kuwait 9 5.34
  Arabic, Hijazi Spoken [acw] Saudi Arabia 2 6.02
  Arabic, Libyan Spoken [ayl] Libya 3 4.32
  Arabic, Mesopotamian Spoken [acm] Iraq 4 15.1
  Arabic, Moroccan Spoken [ary] Morocco 2 21.0
  Arabic, Najdi Spoken [ars] Saudi Arabia 4 9.87
  Arabic, North Levantine Spoken [apc] Syria 2 14.8
  Arabic, North Mesopotamian Spoken [ayp] Iraq 3 6.30
  Arabic, Omani Spoken [acx] Oman 3 1.09
  Arabic, Sa’idi Spoken [aec] Egypt 1 19.0
  Arabic, Sanaani Spoken [ayn] Yemen 1 7.60
  Arabic, South Levantine Spoken [ajp] Jordan 3 6.47
  Arabic, Sudanese Spoken [apd] Sudan 3 16.9
  Arabic, Ta’izzi-Adeni Spoken [acq] Yemen 2 7.08
  Arabic, Tunisian Spoken [aeb] Tunisia 1 11.2
6 Portuguese [por] Portugal 12 203
7 Bengali [ben] Bangladesh 4 189
8 Russian [rus] Russian Federation 16 166
9 Japanese [jpn] Japan 2 128
10 Lahnda [lah] Pakistan 6 88.7
  Hindko, Northern [hno] Pakistan 1 1.88
  Pahari-Potwari [phr] Pakistan 2 2.50
  Punjabi, Western [pnb] Pakistan 2 62.6
  Saraiki [skr] Pakistan 2 20.1
11 Javanese [jav] Indonesia 3 84.3
12 German, Standard [deu] Germany 18 78.1
13 Korean [kor] South Korea 5 77.2
14 French [fra] France 51 75.9
15 Telugu [tel] India 2 74.0
16 Marathi [mar] India 1 71.8
17 Turkish [tur] Turkey 8 70.9
18 Tamil [tam] India 6 68.8
19 Vietnamese [vie] Viet Nam 3 67.8
20 Urdu [urd] Pakistan 6 64.0
21 Italian [ita] Italy 11 63.8
22 Malay [msa] Malaysia 13 60.5
  Banjar [bjn] Indonesia 2 3.50
  Indonesian [ind] Indonesia 1 23.2
  Malay [zlm] Malaysia 3 15.8
  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
23 Persian [fas] Iran 29 57.0
  Dari [prs] Afghanistan 2 9.60
  Persian, Iranian [pes] Iran 6 47.4