Languages of Russia

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Languages of Russia
Official languages Russian official throughout nation;[1] twenty-seven others co-official in various regions
Main languages Russian
Main foreign languages

15% have foreign language knowledge[2]

  1. English (78% out of all foreign language speakers, i.e. 11.7% of the population)
  2. German (16%)
  3. French (4%)
  4. Turkish (2%)
Sign languages Russian Sign Language
Common keyboard layouts
Russian keyboard
KB Russian.svg

Of all the languages of Russia, Russian is the only official language. There are 35 different languages which are considered official languages in various regions of Russia, along with Russian. There are over 100 minority languages spoken in Russia today.[3]


Russian was the sole official language of the Russian Empire which existed until 1917. During the Soviet period, the policy toward the languages of the various other ethnic groups fluctuated in practice. The state helped develop alphabets and grammar for various languages across the country that had previously been lacking a written form. Though each of the constituent republics had its own official language, the unifying role and superior status was reserved for Russian.

Russian lost its status in many of the new republics that arose following the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union. In Russia, however, the dominating status of the Russian language continued. Today, 97% of the public school students of Russia receive their education only or mostly in Russian, even though Russia is made up of approximately 80% ethnic Russians

Official languages[edit]

Although Russian is the only federally official language of the Russian Federation, there are several other officially recognized languages within Russia's various constituencies – the Constitution of Russia only allows the various Republics of Russia to establish official languages other than Russian. The only exception was made when the city of Sevastopol was annexed by the Russian Federation along with the Republic of Crimea. This is a list of languages that are official only in certain parts of Russia (the language family in which the language belongs is given in parentheses).

  1. Abaza (Northwest Caucasian; in  Karachay-Cherkessia)[4]
  2. Adyghe (Northwest Caucasian; in  Adygea)
  3. Aghul (Northeast Caucasian; in  Dagestan)
  4. Altai (Turkic; in the  Altai Republic)
  5. Avar (Northeast Caucasian; in  Dagestan)
  6. Azerbaijani (Turkic; in  Dagestan)
  7. Bashkir (Turkic; in  Bashkortostan)(see also Law on the language of the people of the Bashkortostan)
  8. Buryat (Mongolic; in  Buryatia)
  9. Chechen (Northeast Caucasian; in  Chechnya)
  10. Cherkess (Northeast Caucasian; in  Karachay-Cherkessia)
  11. Chuvash (Turkic; in  Chuvashia)
  12. Crimean Tatar (Turkic; in the  Republic of Crimea)[5]
  13. Dargwa (Northeast Caucasian; in  Dagestan)
  14. Erzya (Uralic; in  Mordovia)
  15. Ingush (Northeast Caucasian; in  Ingushetia)
  16. Kabardian (Northwest Caucasian; in  Kabardino-Balkaria and  Karachay-Cherkessia[4])
  17. Kalmyk (Mongolic; in  Kalmykia)
  18. Karachay-Balkar (Turkic; in  Kabardino-Balkaria and  Karachay-Cherkessia[4])
  19. Khakas (Turkic; in  Khakassia)
  20. Komi (Uralic; in the  Komi Republic)
  21. Kumyk (Turkic; in  Dagestan)
  22. Lak (Northeast Caucasian; in  Dagestan)
  23. Lezgi (Northeast Caucasian; in  Dagestan)
  24. Mari (Uralic; in  Mari El)
  25. Moksha (Uralic; in  Mordovia)
  26. Nogai (Turkic;in  Dagestan and  Karachay-Cherkessia)[4]
  27. Ossetic (Iranian; in  North Ossetia–Alania)
  28. Rutul (Northeast Caucasian; in  Dagestan)
  29. Tabasaran (Northeast Caucasian; in  Dagestan)
  30. Tatar (Turkic; in  Tatarstan)
  31. Tsakhur (Northeast Caucasian; in  Dagestan)
  32. Tuvаn (Turkic; in  Tuva)
  33. Udmurt (Uralic; in  Udmurtia)
  34. Ukrainian (Indo-European; in the  Republic of Crimea)[5]
  35. Yakut (Turkic; in the  Sakha Republic)

Karelia is the only republic of Russia with Russian as the only official language.

Unofficial languages[edit]

Numerous migrant workers from the near abroad (former USSR republics) and other countries live in Russia.

Endangered languages in Russia[edit]

There are many endangered languages in Russia. Some are considered to be near extinction and put on the list of endangered languages in Russia, and some may have gone extinct since data was last reported. On the other hand, some languages may survive even with few speakers.

Some languages have doubtful data, like Serbian whose information in the Ethnologue is based on the 1959 census.

Languages near extinction[edit]

Most numbers are according to Michael Krauss, 1995. Given the time that has passed, languages with extremely few speakers might be extinct today. Since 1997, Kerek and Yugh have become extinct.

Other endangered languages[edit]


See list of languages of Russia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Constitution of the Russian Federation - Chapter 3. The Federal Structure, Article 68". Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Лише 15% росіян знають іноземну мову [Only 15% of Russians know a foreign language]. Education in Ukraine and the World (in Ukrainian). 20 September 2008. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  3. ^ "Russia - Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette". Kwintessential. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Constitution of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, Chapter 1" (in Russian). Karachay–Cherkess Republic official website. Archived from the original on 2011-05-14. Retrieved 2007-01-02. 
  5. ^ a b "Constitution of the Republic of Crimea (2014)" (PDF). Article 10 (in Russian). State Council, Republic of Crimea. 11 April 2014. p. 4. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 

External references[edit]