The 50 Most Widely Spoken
Languages
1 in the World

Adapted from:  http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0774735.html (D. Cabanel; 2000)

 

Rank,
language

Countries2

Population3
(millions)

 1. Chinese, Mandarin

Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, S. Africa, Taiwan, Thailand

885.0

 2. Spanish

Andorra*, Argentina, Belize*, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, U.S.*, Venezuela, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico                         
* = Spanish is not the official language

332.0

 3. English

Australia, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, The Gambia, Guyana, Ireland, Israel, Lesotho, Liberia, Malaysia, Micronesia, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, S. Africa, Suriname, Swaziland, Tonga, U.K., U.S., Vanuatu, Zimbabwe, many Caribbean states

322.0

 4. Bengali

Bangladesh, India, Singapore

189.0

 5. Hindi

India, Nepal, Singapore, S. Africa, Uganda

182.0

 6. Portuguese

Brazil, Cape Verde, France, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe

170.0

 7. Russian

China, Israel, Mongolia, Russia, U.S.

170.0

 8. Japanese

Japan, Singapore, Taiwan

125.0

 9. German, Standard

Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Czech Rep., Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Switzerland

98.0

10. Chinese, Wu

China

77.2

11. Javanese

Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore

75.5

12. Korean

China, Japan, N. Korea, S. Korea, Singapore, Thailand

75.0

13. French

Andorra, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Comoros, Congo, Congo (Dem. Rep. of), Djibouti, France, Gabon, Guinea, Haiti, Luxembourg, Mauritania, Monaco, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Switzerland, Vanuatu

72.0

14. Vietnamese

China, Vietnam

67.7

15. Telugu

India, Singapore

66.4

16. Chinese, Yue(Cantonese)

Brunei, China, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Malaysia, Panama, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam

66.0

17. Marathi

India

64.8

18. Tamil

India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, S. Africa, Sri Lanka

63.1

19. Turkish

Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Turkey, Uzbekistan

59.0

20. Urdu

Afghanistan, India, Mauritius, Pakistan, S. Africa, Thailand

58.0

21. Chinese, Min Nan

Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand

49.0

22. Chinese, Jinyu

China

45.0

23. Gujarati

India, Kenya, Pakistan, Singapore, S. Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

44.0

24. Polish

Czech Rep., Germany, Israel, Poland, Romania, Slovakia

44.0

25. Arabic, Egyptian

Egypt

42.5

26. Ukrainian

Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine

41.0

27. Italian

Croatia, Eritrea, France, Italy, San Marino, Slovenia, Switzerland

37.0

28. Chinese, Xiang

China

36.0

29. Malayalam

India, Singapore

34.0

30. Chinese, Hakka

Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Panama, Singapore, Suriname, Taiwan, Thailand

34.0

31. Kannada

India

33.7

32. Oriya

India

31.0

33. Panjabi, Western

India, Pakistan

30.0

34. Sunda

Indonesia

27.0

35. Panjabi, Eastern

India, Kenya, Singapore

26.0

36. Romanian

Hungary, Israel, Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Ukraine

26.0

37. Bhojpuri

India, Mauritius, Nepal

25.0

38. Azerbaijani, South

Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey

24.4

39. Farsi, Western

Iran, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates

24.3

40. Maithili

India, Nepal

24.3

41. Hausa

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Togo

24.2

42. Arabic, Algerian

Algeria

22.4

43. Burmese

Bangladesh, Myanmar

22.0

44. Serbo-Croatian4

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia

21.0

45. Chinese, Gan

China

20.6

46. Awadhi

India, Nepal

20.5

47. Thai

Singapore, Thailand

20.0

48. Dutch

Belgium, France, Netherlands, Suriname

20.0

49. Yoruba

Benin, Nigeria

20.0

50. Sindhi

Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Singapore

19.7

 

1. Many of the languages listed are technically dialects, not separate languages. They are listed separately because they differ from each other enough to be mutually unintelligible.

2. The countries listed under Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, and Serbo-Croatian do not include those in which less than 1% of the population speaks the language as a first language.

3. The population figures refer to first language speakers in all countries and are general estimates.

4. Serbo-Croatian is now known variously as Serbian, Croatian, or Bosnian, depending on the speaker's ethnic or political affiliation.

Source: Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor. © 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc.

 

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