Languages in censuses

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Many countries and national censuses currently enumerate or have previously enumerated their populations by languages, native language, home language, level of knowing language or a combination of these characteristics.

Languages in censuses. Map showing countries where the languages of people was enumerated at least in one census since 1991.


Pashto and Dari (Persian) are the official languages of Afghanistan; bilingualism is very common.[1] Both are Indo-European languages from the Iranian languages sub-family. Dari has always been the prestige language and a lingua franca for inter-ethnic communication. It is the native tongue of the Tajiks, Hazaras, Aimaks, and Kizilbash.[2] Pashto is the native tongue of the Pashtuns, although many Pashtuns often use Dari and some non-Pashtuns are fluent in Pashto.

Other languages, including Uzbek, Arabic, Turkmen, Balochi, Pashayi, and Nuristani languages (Ashkunu, Kamkata-viri, Vasi-vari, Tregami, and Kalasha-ala), are the native tongues of minority groups across the country and have official status in the regions where they are widely spoken. Minor languages also include Pamiri (Shughni, Munji, Ishkashimi, and Wakhi), Brahui, Hindko, and Kyrgyz. A small percentage of Afghans are also fluent in Urdu, English and other languages.

Language World Factbook / Library of Congress Country Studies estimate[3][4]
Dari 50%
Pashto 35%
Uzbek and Turkmen 11%
30 minor languages 4%


Language People
Albanian 2,800,139
Greek 15,196
Macedonian 4,443
Roma 4,025
Aromanian 3,848
Turkish 714
Italian 523
Serbo-Croatian 66
Others 187
Not relevant/not stated 3,843


Trilingual welcome sign in Isser Municipality, (Boumerdès) written in Arabic, Kabyle (Tifinagh script), and French. ("The municipality of Isser welcomes you.")

The official language of Algeria is Modern Standard Arabic (literary Arabic), as specified in its constitution since 1963. In addition to this, Berber has been recognized as a "national language" by constitutional amendment since May 8, 2002. Algerian Arabic and Berber are the native languages of over 99% of Algerians, with Algerian Arabic spoken by about 72% and Berber by 27.4%.[5] French, though it has no official status, is widely used in government, culture, media (newspapers) and education (from primary school), due to Algeria's colonial history and can be regarded as being a de facto co-official language of Algeria. Kabyle, the most spoken Berber language in the country, is taught and partially co-official (with a few restrictions) in parts of Kabylie.


Official language is Catalan, although the most spoken language is Spanish. Other minority languages are French and Portuguese.

Antigua and Barbuda[edit]

Official language is English, while Antiguan Creole is dissuaded from use. Around 10,000 inhabitants speak Spanish.


Dialectal variants of the Spanish language in Argentina

The de facto[A] official language is Spanish, spoken by almost all Argentines.[6] Due to the extensive Argentine geography, Spanish has a strong variation among regions, although the prevalent dialect is Rioplatense, primarily spoken in the La Plata Basin and accented similarly to Neapolitan language.[7]

There are several second-languages in widespread use among the Argentine population:


Armenian is the only official language. Due to its Soviet past, Russian is still widely used in Armenia and could be considered as de facto second language. According to a 2013 survey, 95% of Armenians said they had some knowledge of Russian (24% advanced, 59% intermediate) compared to 40% who said they knew some English (4% advanced, 16% intermediate and 20% beginner). However, more adults (50%) think that English should be taught in public secondary schools than those who prefer Russian (44%).[12]


Although Australia has no official language, English has always been entrenched as the de facto national language.[13] Standard Australian English serves as the standard dialect. According to the 2016 census, English is the only language spoken in the home for 72.6% of the population. The next most common languages spoken at home are Mandarin (2.5%), Arabic (1.4%), Cantonese (1.2%), Vietnamese (1.2%), Italian (1.2%), Greek (1.0%), Tagalog (0.8%), Hindi (0.7%), Spanish (0.6%) and Punjabi (0.6%);[14] a considerable proportion of first- and second-generation migrants are bilingual. A 2010–2011 study by the Australia Early Development Index found the most common language spoken by children after English was Arabic, followed by Vietnamese, Greek, Chinese, and Hindi.[15][16] 0.3% of Australians spoke an Indigenous Australian language at home in 2016.[14]



Native language according to the census in 2009 [17]

Language Both genders Male Female
Total 8 922 447 4 414 398 4 508 049
Azerbaijani 8 253 196 4 101 575 4 151 621
Russian 122 449 45 538 76 911
Armenian 120 237 57 912 62 325
Talish 68 689 34 154 34 535
Avar 46 610 23 107 23 503
Turkish 32 064 16 465 15 599
Tatar 24 146 10 614 13 532
Tat 22 803 11 485 11 318
Ukrainian 20 988 9 456 11 532
Tsakhur 11 734 5 915 5 819
Georgian 10 356 4 978 5 378
Hebrew 8 493 4 046 4 447
Udi 3 795 1 839 1 956
Other[18] 176 887 87 314 89 573



Arabic is the official language of Bahrain, though English is widely used.[19] Bahrani Arabic is the most widely spoken dialect of the Arabic language, though this differs slightly from standard Arabic. Among the Bahraini and non-Bahraini population, many people speak Persian, the official language of Iran, or Urdu, the official language of Pakistan.[19] Malayalam and Nepali are also widely spoken in the Nepalese workers and Gurkha Soldiers community. Hindi is spoken among significant Indian communities.[19]





In the past, Belgium held a census each ten years, including a language census (nl/fr). Since 1932, the results of this census defined to which official language a municipality belonged (Dutch, French or German). However, this caused a lot of conflicts along the language border, in Brussels and its periphery (due to the Francization of Brussels). The territory of Belgium was consequently divided into four definitive official language areas[20] and the language census was abolished, effective 1 September 1963. No national language censuses have been held since then.


According to the last census in 2012 [21]

Language People
Spanish 6,097,122
Quechua 2,124,040
Aymara 1,462,286
Foreign 241,417
Guarani 57,218
Another Native 43,953
No talking 14,960


The official language of Brunei is Malay. The principal spoken language is Melayu Brunei (Brunei Malay). Brunei Malay is rather divergent from standard Malay and the rest of the Malay dialects, being about 84% cognate with standard Malay,[22] and is mostly mutually unintelligible with it.[23] English and Chinese are also widely spoken, English is also used in business, as a working language, and as the language of instruction from primary to tertiary education,[24][25][26][27] and there is a relatively large expatriate community.[28] Other languages spoken include Kedayan, Tutong, Murut and Dusun.[22]


In the Bulgarian census, the question about the mother tongue and the ethnic group is an optional one. The results among the people that have answered both questions according to the latest census in 2011 are:[29]

Language People
Bulgarian 5,631,759
Turkish 604,246
Romani 280,979
Russian 15,211
Armenian 5,567
Romanian 5,454
Greek 3,182
Aromanian 1,815
Ukrainian 1,691
Macedonian 1,376
Tatar 1,367
Arabic 1,321
Hebrew 141
Other 9,946
Does not self-identify 47,458
Did not answer 753,057
Population 7,364,570


According to Statistics Canada, no other national census includes as many questions about language as does the Census in Canada; the 2016 census included seven such questions.[30] In 2016, all respondents were asked, "Can this person speak English or French well enough to conduct a conversation?"; "What language does this person speak most often at home?"; "Does this person speak any other languages on a regular basis at home?"; and "What is the language that this person first learned at home in childhood and still understands?".[31] In addition, a sample of 25% of households received a longer survey asking, "What language(s), other than English or French, can this person speak well enough to conduct a conversation?"; "In [the person's] job, what language did this person use most often?"; and "Did this person use any other languages on a regular basis in this job?".[32]

The following is the breakdown of the language spoken most often at home according to the 2016 census:[33]

Language People Percentage
English 22,908,550 65.9%
French 7,121,450 20.5%
All other languages 4,737,250 13.6%

Among immigrant languages (a term used by Statistics Canada to refer to languages other than English, French, Aboriginal languages, and sign languages), the top ten languages most commonly spoken at home in 2016 were the following:[34]

Language People
Mandarin 641,100
Cantonese 594,705
Punjabi 568,375
Spanish 553,495
Tagalog (Pilipino) 525,375
Arabic 514,200
Italian 318,245
German 271,865
Urdu 264,505
Persian (Farsi) 225,015


1990 map of Chinese ethnolinguistic groups[unbalanced opinion?]

There are abouts 292 living languages in China.[35] The languages most commonly spoken belong to the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family, which contains Mandarin (spoken natively by 70% of the population),[36] and other Chinese languages: Wu (including Shanghainese), Yue (including Cantonese and Taishanese), Min (including Hokkien and Teochew), Xiang, Gan, and Hakka. Languages of the Tibeto-Burman branch, including Tibetan, Qiang, Naxi and Yi, are spoken across the Tibetan and Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau. Other ethnic minority languages in southwest China include Zhuang, Thai, Dong and Sui of the Tai-Kadai family, Miao and Yao of the Hmong–Mien family, and Wa of the Austroasiatic family. Across northeastern and northwestern China, minority ethnic groups speak Altaic languages including Manchu, Mongolian and several Turkic languages: Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Salar and Western Yugur. Korean is spoken natively along the border with North Korea. Sarikoli, the language of Tajiks in western Xinjiang, is an Indo-European language. Taiwanese aborigines, including a small population on the mainland, speak Austronesian languages.[37]

Standard Mandarin, a variety of Mandarin based on the Beijing dialect, is the official national language of China and is used as a lingua franca in the country between people of different linguistic backgrounds.[38]


The Armenian Alphabet at the Melkonian Educational Institute. Armenian is recognised as a minority language in Cyprus.
Cyprus road signs in Greek and English. An estimate of 87% of Cypriot population speaks English.

Cyprus has two official languages, Greek and Turkish.[39] Armenian and Cypriot Maronite Arabic are recognized as minority languages.[40][41] Although without official status, English is widely spoken. English features on road signs, public notices, and in advertisements, etc.[42] English was the sole official language during British colonial rule and lingua franca (until 1960) and continued to be used (de facto) in courts of law until 1989 and in legislature until 1996.[43] A reported 80.4% of Greek Cypriots have command of the English language as second language (L2).[44] Russian is widely spoken among the country's minorities, residents and citizens of post-Soviet countries, as well as Pontic Greeks. It is used and spoken by approximately 100,000 people, including Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Armenians, Pontic Greeks, Georgians and Bulgarians.[citation needed] Russian, after English and Greek, is the third language used on many signs of shops and restaurants, particularly in Limassol and Paphos. In addition to these languages, 12% speak French and 5% speak German.[45]

The everyday spoken language of Greek Cypriots is Cypriot Greek and that of Turkish Cypriots is Cypriot Turkish. These both differ from their respective standard register quite significantly.[citation needed]

Czech Republic[edit]

The first official censuses for the Czech lands (then part of Austria-Hungary) in the years 1869-1910 recorded each person's "language of communication" ("obcovací řeč"). This used to be criticised by linguistic minorities as representing the language of a person's surroundings rather than his or her own. The Czechoslovak censuses (1921, 1930, 1950, 1961, 1980) did not register respondents' language but "národnost" (ethnicity) which was to be assessed primarily, but not exclusively, on the basis of the person's "maternal tongue" ("mateřská řeč"). The 1970 census as well as modern censuses (1990, 2001, 2011) register both "ethnicity" and "maternal tongue" (which was, for example in the 2001 census, defined as "the language in which your mother or the persons having raised you spoke with you during your childhood"[46]).[47] The 2011 census form was the first to allow a person to claim two native languages. While certain options are habitually suggested in the form (in 2011: Czech, Slovak, Romani, Polish, German, sign language), the possibility "Other" can be chosen together with completing one's own specification. Unlike "ethnicity", this is an obligatory field in the form.[48]

As the 2011 census introduced the possibility to state two native languages, the table below includes the number in both languages’ rows.

Language 2001 census[49] 2011 census[50] 2021 census[51]
Czech¹ 9,707,397 9,530,518 9,242,634
Slovak 208,723 235,475 225,246
Polish 50,738 50,877 49,669
German 41,328 40,790 31,756
Romani 23,211 40,370 28,102
English 3,791 7,202 30,478
Arabic 2,671
Belarusian 826
Bosnian 726
Bulgarian 5,405
Chinese 3,422  –
French 2,056
Croatian 1,392
Italian 1,418
Hungarian 9,286 14,664
Moldavian 2,211
Mongolian 3,333
Romanian 2,711
Rusyn 777
Russian 18,746 31,622 96,361
Greek 1,362
Serbian 1,931
Spanish 1,916
Ukrainian 48,250 123,738
Vietnamese 30,830 57,408
Signing 7,216
Others, unknown 176,126 464,056 759,394

¹ Including Moravian (62,908 in 2011, 28,647 in 2021)


Danish censuses did not include inquiries on languages. The last one was in 1970.

East Timor[edit]

Biggest language groups in sucos of East Timor.

Speakers by mother tongue in census 2010.[52]

  • Official languages:
  • National languages:
    • Atauro (Wetarese, including Dadu'a, Rahesuk, Raklungu and Resuk): 8,400
    • Bekais (Becais, Welaun): 3,887
    • Bunak (Bunaq, Búnaque, Buna`, Bunake, Mgai, Gai, Marae): 55,837
    • Fataluku (Fataluco, Fatalukunu, Dagaga, Dagoda, Dagada): 37,779
    • Galoli (Galóli, Lo'ok, Galole, Galolen, Glolen): 13,066
    • Habun (Habo): 2,741
    • Idalaka (Idalaca, including Idaté, Lakalei, Isní und Lolein): 18,854
    • Kawaimina (Cauaimina, including Kairui, Waimaha, Midiki, Naueti): 49,096
    • Kemak (Ema, Quémaque): 61,969
    • Makuva (Makuwa, Maku'a, Lovaia, Lovaea): 56
    • Makalero (Macalero, Maklere): 7,802
    • Makasae (Macasae, Makasai, Makassai, Makassae, Macassai, Ma'asae, including Sa'ane): 101,854
    • Mambai (Mambae, Manbae): 131,361
    • Tokodede (Tocodede, Tukude, Tokodé, Tocod): 39,483
    • Baikeno (Dawan): 62,201
  • Working languages:
  • Extinct languages:
  • Other languages:


According to the 2011 Population and Housing Census (PHC 2011) 157 (up from 109 in 2000) different languages are spoken as native language in Estonia. Of those 25 have more than 100 speakers.[53]

Estonian is the official language of Estonia and 886,859 or 68.5% of permanent residents spoke it as native language.[53] Russian is spoken by 383,062 (29.6%), Ukrainian by 8,012 (0.6%), Finnish by 2,617 (0.17%) and Belorussian by 1,663 (0.13%). Other languages have less than thousand speakers.

Faroe Islands[edit]

There are two official languages in the Faroe Islands, Danish and Faroese.[54] According to the public census Hagstova Føroya in 2014, more than 90 percent had Faroese as their first language.[55] The entire list of spoken languages in 2014 is:[56]

Faroese 45 361 (90.8%)
Danish 1546 (3.1%)
Icelandic 201 (0.4%)
English 190 (0.3%)
Filipino 103 (0.2%)
Norwegian 99 (0.2%)
Thai 86 (0.1%)
Romanian 67 (0.1%)
Greenlandic 62 (0.1%)
Serbian 57 (0.1%)
Russian 55 (0.1%)
Spanish 49 (0.1%)
Swedish 45 (0.09%)
Polish 40 (0.08%)
Chinese 29 (0.06%)


Fiji currently recognises 3 languages in its country. The languages are Fijian, Fiji Hindi and English. As of 2017 450,000 of the population speaks Fijian as their first language and another 200,000 speak it as their second language. Fiji Hindi is another of the official languages of Fiji and has about 460,000 as of 1991. English is an official language as it was a British colony some time ago. There are many other languages spoken in Fiji such as Hindi and Chinese but they don't have any status in Fiji.


According to the Finnish constitution, the two national languages of Finland are Finnish and Swedish. About six per cent of the Finnish people speak Swedish as their mother tongue. The constitution also grants for the speakers of Sami, Romani and other languages the right to maintain and develop their language and culture. The right to use sign language is also set in the Finnish Language Act.[57] In accordance with the Population Census Act, censuses are drawn every ten years, and the mother tongue of each resident is registered. However, key census data, including population by native language, are updated annually. According to the official statistics, speakers of 155 different languages have been registered. The censuses use the ISO 639-1 language classification.[58][59]


France recognizes but one language, French, declared national language. Other indigenous languages have no official status, although their teaching is tolerated in some places under specific conditions, and there has never been any question about languages in a French national census.

However, the March 1999 census was associated with an INSEE survey "Study of family history" for 380 thousand people, including questions about language transmission.[60][61]


The census 2011 and the West-German census 1987 did not inquire about language. Since the 2017 micro census, a survey conducted with a sampling fraction of 1% of the persons and households in Germany that supplies basic socio-demographic data and facilitates the ongoing monitoring of the labour market, a question asking "Which language is being spoken predominantly in your household?" was added,[62] eighty years since the 1939 Census asked for the Mother tongue of the population.[63]


The official language of Greece is Greek, spoken by 99% of the population. In addition, a number of non-official, minority languages and some Greek dialects are spoken as well. The most common foreign languages learned by Greeks are English, German, French, Spanish and Italian.


The two official languages of Haiti are French and Haitian Creole. French is the principal written and administratively authorized language. It is spoken by all educated Haitians, is the medium of instruction in most schools, and is used in the business sector. Haitian Creole,[64] which recently undergone a standardization, is spoken by virtually the entire population of Haiti.[65]

Hong Kong[edit]

Officially English and Chinese are the two official language of Hong Kong. The definition of Chinese is somehow ambiguous as Chinese itself consists of a number of mutually unintelligible varieties. Cantonese is the major spoken language in Hong Kong and written in various form with Traditional Chinese characters. English is a variant of British English, though American English is also commonly used in Hong Kong.

From 19th century, the population Census in Hong Kong has investigated what languages the people of Hong Kong speak. Hakka, Hoklo, Sze Yap, Shanghainese and Tanka[dubious ] have lost importance over time. Cantonese has come to be spoken by the vast majority, though there are increasingly more Mandarin-speaking people, particularly since the turn of the millennium.


Starting from 1880 the Hungarian census system was based on native language (the language spoken at home in the early life of the person and at the time of the survey), vulgar language (the most frequently used language in the family), and other spoken languages.

Native language according to the last census in 2011[66]

Language 1930 census 1970 census 1980 census 1990 census 2001 census 2011 census
Hungarian 8,000,335 10,152,366 10,579,898 10,222,529 9,546,374 8,409,049
Romani, beas 7,841 34,692 27,915 48,072 48,438 54,339
German 477,153 33,653 31,231 37,511 33,774 38,248
Romanian 16,221 12,356 10,141 8,730 8,482 13,886
Croatian 47,332 21,855 20,484 17,577 14,326 13,716
Slovakian 104,786 21,086 16,054 12,745 11,817 9,888
Serbian 7,031 11,177 3,426 2,953 3,388 3,708
Ukrainian ... ... ... 674 4,885 3,384
Polish 5,161 ... ... 3,788 2,580 3,049
Bulgarian 2,816 ... ... 1,370 1,299 2,899
Greek 82 ... ... 1,640 1,921 1,872
Slovenian 5,464 3,791 3,142 2,627 3,180 1,723
Rusin 996 ... ... ... 1,113 999
Armenian 122 ... ... 37 294 444
Russian ... ... ... 3,902 3,257 7,382
Chinese 15 ... ... 204 2,414 5,819
Arabian ... ... ... 1,456 1,438 2,929
Vietnamese ... ... ... 1,258 1,085 2,674
Other languages ... 15,083 17,172 8,944 36,270 21,657
Unknown - - - - 541,106 1,443,840
Population 8,685,109 10,300,996 10,709,463 10,374,823 10,198,315 9,937,628


Iceland has been a very isolated and linguistically homogeneous island historically, but has nevertheless beheld several languages. Gaelic was native to many of the early Icelanders, the Icelandic or Norse language however prevailing, albeit absorbing Gaelic features. Later, northern trade routes brought German, English, Dutch, French and Basque. Some merchants and clergymen settled in Iceland throughout the centuries, leaving their mark on culture, but linguistically mainly trade, nautical or religious terms. Excluding these and Latin words, Icelandic has altered remarkably little since settlement, the island's residents living in seclusion.

Icelandic is not only the national language, but is now “the official language in Iceland” by virtue of Act No 61/2011, adopted by parliament in 2011.[67] Icelandic Sign Language was also officially recognised by law in 2011 as a minority language with constitutional rights and the first language of the Icelandic deaf community. During the time of Danish rule, Danish was a minority language in Iceland,[68] although it is nowadays only spoken by a small number of immigrants.


The population of India in 1991 exhibited 19.4% bilingualism and 7.2% trilingualism.


Indonesian functions as the official language of the country, but it coexists with a high number of local languages. According to Ethnologue, there are currently about 737 living languages in Indonesia,[69] the most widely spoken being Javanese. Most Indonesians are bilingual and trilingual.

A number of Chinese varieties, most prominently Min Nan, are also spoken. The public use of Chinese, especially Chinese written characters, was officially discouraged between 1966 and 1998.

Arabic are used in religious setting, and in Madrasah (Islamic boarding school), and in various names (people and places). Arabic script (Jawi script) is used in many local languages.

English is taught in school as foreign language. Some school are also teaching other languages as foreign language, such as Chinese, and/or other Asian/European languages.


The majority of the population speaks Persian, which is also the official language of the country, as well as other Iranian languages or dialects. Turkic languages and dialects, most importantly Azerbaijani language, are spoken in different areas in Iran. In southwestern and southern Iran, Luri and Lari are spoken. In Kurdistan Province and nearby area's Kurdish is widely spoken. In Khuzestan, many distinct Persian dialects are spoken. Arabic is also spoken in Khuzestan. Notable minority languages in Iran include Armenian, Georgian, and Neo-Aramaic. Circassian was also once widely used by the large Circassian minority, but due to assimilation over the many years no sizable number of Circassians speak the language anymore.[70][71][72][73]


Arabic is the majority language while Kurdish is spoken by approximately 10–15% of the population and Turkmen,[74] the Neo-Aramaic language of the Assyrians and others, by 5%.[75] Other smaller minority languages includes Mandaic, Shabaki, Armenian, Circassian and Persian.

Previously to the invasion in 2003, Arabic was the sole official language. Since the new Constitution of Iraq was approved in June 2004, both Arabic and Kurdish are an official languages,[76] while Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and Turkmen language (referred to as respectively "Syriac" and "Turkmen" in the constitution) are recognized as a regional languages.[77] In addition, any region or province may declare other languages official if a majority of the population approves in a general referendum.[78]

Based on the Iraqi constitution: "The Arabic language and the Kurdish language are the two official languages of Iraq. The right of Iraqis to educate their children in their mother tongue, such as Turkmen, Assyrian, and Armenian shall be guaranteed in government educational institutions in accordance with educational guidelines, or in any other language in private educational institutions".[79]


The 2016 Irish census included the following questions: "Can you speak Irish?" (and if yes, whether the respondent spoke Irish daily within the education system, daily outside the education system, weekly, less often, or never); "Do you speak a language other than English or Irish at home?" (and if yes, which language); and "How well do you speak English?" (very well, well, not well, or not at all).[80]

In 2016, 1,761,420 persons stated that they could speak Irish (39.8% of the population). However, of this group, 418,420 (23.8% of Irish speakers) reported that they never spoke it, and 558,608 (31.7%) reported that they only spoke it within the education system.[81]

Ivory Coast[edit]

French, as an official language, is taught in schools and serves as a lingua franca in the country. Ethnic groups include Akan 42.1%, Voltaiques or Gur 17.6%, Northern Mandes 16.5%, Krous 11%, Southern Mandes 10%, other 2.8% (includes 30,000 Lebanese and 45,000 French; 2004). 77% of the population are considered Ivoirians. They represent several different peoples and language groups. An estimated 65 languages are spoken in the country. One of the most common is Dyula, which acts as a trade language as well as a language commonly spoken by the Muslim population.


The official language of Jamaica is English. Jamaicans primarily speak an English-African Creole language known as Jamaican Patois.

The 2011 Population and Housing Census did not include any questions about language use.[82]


More than 99 percent of the population speaks Japanese as their first language.[75]

Besides Japanese, other languages like Ryukyuan languages (Amami, Kunigami, Okinawan, Miyako, Yaeyama, Yonaguni), also part of the Japonic language family, are spoken in the Ryukyu Islands chain. Few children learn these languages,[83] but in recent years the local governments have sought to increase awareness of the traditional languages. The Okinawan Japanese dialect is also spoken in the region. The Ainu language, which has no proven relationship to Japanese or any other language, is moribund, with only a few elderly native speakers remaining in Hokkaido.[84] Most public and private schools require students to take courses in both Japanese and English.[85][86]


Some figures from the 2011 census:

Main language spoken as of 1 February 2011 (in %)
Main language %
Luxembourgish 55,8
Portuguese 15,7
French 12,1
German 3,1
Italian 2,9
Other languages 8,4
Total 100

Source: STATEC - RP2011, Langue principale parlée au 1er février 2011, en %

Languages spoken at work, at school and/or at home on 1 February 2011 (multiple answers possible)
Languages Number of people %
Luxembourgish 323.557 70,5
French 255.669 55,7
German 140.590 30,6
English 96.427 21,0
Portuguese 91.872 20,0
Italian 28.561 6,2
other languages 55.298 12,1
Total 458.900 100,0

Source : STATEC - RP2011: Langues parlées au travail, à l’école et/ou à la maison au 1er février 2011 (réponses multiples possibles)

Number of languages spoken at work, at school and/or at home, as of 1 February 2011
Number of languages Number of people %
1 182.609 39,79
2 119.103 25,95
3 79.651 17,36
4 58.642 12,78
5 16.212 3,53
6 2.203 0,48
7 480 0,10
Average 2,2

Source : STATEC - RP2011: Nombre de langues parlées au 1er février 2011


As of the last national census in 2002, of the republic's 2,022,547 people, 67% speak Macedonian as their mother tongue. The next most common mother tongue is Albanian with 25% of the population. Other minority languages include Turkish (3.6%), Romani (1.9%), and the Serbo-croatian languages (1.6%).[87]


The national or official language is Malay, which is the mother tongue of the majority Malay ethnic group. The main ethnic groups within Malaysia comprise the Malays, Chinese and Indians, with many other ethnic groups represented in smaller numbers, each with its own languages. The largest native languages spoken in East Malaysia are the Iban, Dusunic and the Kadazan languages. English is widely understood in service industries and is a compulsory subject in primary and secondary school.

Malaysia contains speakers of 137 living languages,[88] 41 of which are found in Peninsula Malaysia.[89] The government provides schooling at the primary level in each of the three major languages, Malay, Chinese (Mandarin), and Tamil. Within these three there are a number of dialectal differences.[90]


Malta has two official languages: Maltese and English. Maltese is also the national language. Until 1934, Italian was also an official language in Malta. Having been governed by many different countries in the past, the Maltese population is generally able to converse in languages which are not native to the country, namely English and Italian.

According to the 2011 census, there were 377,952 people aged 10 and over, of whom 352,121 people (93.2%) declared to speak Maltese "Well", 248,570 (65.8%) declared to speak English "Well" and 93,401 (24.7%) declared to speak Italian "Well", out of a scale made of "Well", "Average", "A little" and "Not at all".[91]


The official language of Mongolia is Mongolian, which is spoken by 95% of the population. A variety of dialects of Oirat and Buryat are spoken across the country, and there are also some speakers of Mongolic Khamnigan. In the west of the country, Kazakh and Tuvan, both Turkic languages, are also spoken. Mongolian Sign Language is the principal language of the deaf community.

Russian is the most frequently spoken foreign language in Mongolia, followed by English, although English has been gradually replacing Russian as the second language. Korean has gained popularity as tens of thousands of Mongolians work in South Korea.[92]

Interest in Chinese, as the language of the other neighbouring power, has been growing.[citation needed] A number of older educated Mongolian citizens speak some German, as they studied in the former East Germany, while a few speak other languages from the former Eastern Bloc. Many younger people are fluent in the Western European languages as they study or work in, among other places, Germany, France and Italy.[citation needed]


The official language of Myanmar is Burmese; which is spoken by 81% of population. First language is about 69% and second language user is about 12%.


The 2011 National census lists 123 languages spoken as a mother tongue (first language) in Nepal.[93] Most belong to the Indo-Aryan and Sino-Tibetan language families.

The official language of Nepal is Nepali (नेपाली), formerly called Khaskura then Gorkhali. According to the 2011 national census, the percentage of people with Nepali as the mother tongue is 44.6%.[94]

New Zealand[edit]

The 2018 New Zealand census included a question asking, "In what language(s) could you have a conversation about a lot of everyday things?"[95] Respondents could choose more than one language. The top five selections were:[96]

Language People Percentage
English 4,482,135 95.4%
te reo Māori 185,955 4.0%
Samoan 101,937 2.2%
Northern Chinese (including Mandarin) 95,253 2.0%
Hindi 69,471 1.5%


In the Norwegian census of 1970, in limited areas in Northern Norway, people were identified by ethnicity and language. Such information has not been included in any census since then.[97] During the 19th century, the Norwegian government collected ethnicity and language information.[98]


Top 5 national languages (Ethnologue, 2013)
Language Speakers(millions)

Ethnologue lists 175 individual languages in the Philippines, 171 of which are living languages, while 4 no longer have any known speakers. Most native languages are part of the Philippine branch of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, which is itself a branch of the Austronesian language family.[101] The only non-Austronesian language indigenous to the Philippines is Chavacano, a Spanish-based creole. According to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Filipino and English are the official languages. Filipino is a standardized version of Tagalog, spoken mainly in Metro Manila and other urban regions. Both Filipino and English are used in government, education, print, broadcast media, and business. The constitution mandates that Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis.[102]

Nineteen regional languages act as auxiliary official languages used as mediums of instruction: Aklanon, Bikol, Cebuano, Chavacano, Hiligaynon, Ibanag, Ilocano, Ivatan, Kapampangan, Kinaray-a, Maguindanao, Maranao, Pangasinan, Sambal, Surigaonon, Tagalog, Tausug, Waray, and Yakan.[103] Other indigenous languages such as Cuyonon, Ifugao, Itbayat, Kalinga, Kamayo, Kankanaey, Masbateño, Romblomanon, and several Visayan languages are prevalent in their respective provinces. The Chavacano language, a creole language born from Spanish (of the Mexican and Peruvian strain), is also spoken in Cavite and Zamboanga.[104] Languages not indigenous to the islands are also taught in select schools. Standard Mandarin is used in Chinese schools catering to the Chinese Filipino community. Islamic schools in Mindanao teach Modern Standard Arabic in their curriculum.[105] French, German, Japanese, Korean, Spanish are taught with the help of foreign linguistic institutions, respectively, Alliance Française, Goethe-Institut, Japan Foundation, Korean Cultural Center or King Sejong Institute, and Instituto Cervantes.[106] The Department of Education began teaching the Malay languages Indonesian and Malaysian in 2013.[107]


In the 2002 census and 2011 census was the possibility to state more than one home language, while in 2011 census was also possibility to state native languages; the table below includes the number in all languages’ rows.

Language 2002 census
(home language)[108]
2011 census
(home language)[109]
2011 census
(native language)[110]
Polish 37,405,335 37,815,606 37,656,090
English 89,874 103,541 5,624
Belarusian 40,650 26,448 17,480
French 15,282 10,677 3,488
Kashubian 52,665 108,140 13,799
German 204,573 96,461 58,170
Romani 15,788 14,468 8,612
Russian 15,299 19,805 17,048
Silesian 56,643 529,377 140,012
Ukrainian 22,698 24,539 28,172
Italian 12,001 10,295 2,207
Unknown 772,223 519,698 521,842
Population 38,230,080 38,511,824 38,511,824


The official language of Portugal is Portuguese, which is spoken by the whole population. A small minority speaks Mirandese, recognized as a regional language, but all Mirandese speakers also speak Portuguese.


Arabic is the official language of Qatar, with Qatari Arabic the local dialect. Qatari Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. English is also widely spoken,[111] and is considered to be a rising lingua franca, especially in commerce, to the extent that steps are being taken to try to preserve Arabic from English's encroachment.[112] English is particularly useful for communication with Qatar's large expatriate community. In 2012, Qatar joined the international French-speaking organisation of La Francophonie as a new associate member,[113] justifying its inscription by the consequent number of French speakers in the country (10% of the Qatari population would be francophone).[114][115] Reflecting the multicultural make-up of the country, many other languages are also spoken, including Hindi, Malayalam, Urdu, Tamil, Nepali and Tagalog.[116]


Romanian is the official language of Romania. According to the last census in 2011 [117]

Language People
Total 20,121,641
Romanian 17,176,544
Hungarian 1,259,914
Romani 245,677
Ukrainian 48,910
German 26,557
Turkish 25,302
Russian 18,946
Tatar 17,677
Serbian 16,805
Slovak 12,802
Bulgarian 6,518
Croatian 5,167
Italian 2,949
Greek 2,561
Czech 2,174
Polish 2,079
Chinese 2,039
Macedonian 769
Armenian 739
Hebrew 643
Other 16,841
Information not available 1,230,028


Native languages (mother tongues) of Singaporeans[118]
Language Percent
Mandarin Chinese

Singapore has four official languages.[119] The four languages that are recognised by the Singapore Government are: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil.[120] They were chosen to correspond with the major ethnic groups present in Singapore at the time as well as for the following reasons: Mandarin had gained status since the introduction of Chinese-medium schools; Malay was deemed the "most obvious choice" for the Malay community; and Tamil for the largest Indian ethnic group in Singapore, in addition to being "the language with the longest history of education in Malaysia and Singapore".[121] In 2009, more than 20 languages were identified as being spoken in Singapore, reflecting a rich linguistic diversity in the city.[122][123] Singapore's historical roots as a trading settlement gave rise to an influx of foreign traders,[124] and their languages were slowly embedded in Singapore's modern day linguistic repertoire.

Language most frequently spoken at home (%)[125]
Language 1990 2000 2010
English 18.8 23.0 32.3
Mandarin 23.7 35.0 35.6
other varieties of Chinese 39.6 23.8 14.3
Malay 14.3 14.1 12.2
Tamil 2.9 3.2 3.3
Quadrilingual warning sign written in Singapore's four official languages; English, Chinese, Tamil and Malay.

Malay is the national language of the country, although English is mainly used. English serves as the link between the different ethnic groups and is the language of the educational system and the administration. The colloquial English used in everyday life is often referred to as Singlish.

The government of Singapore has been promoting the use of Mandarin, the official form of Chinese in Singapore as well as mainland China and Taiwan, with its Speak Mandarin Campaign among the Chinese population. The use of other varieties of Chinese, like Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hainanese and Hakka, has been declining over the last two decades, although they are still being used especially by the older generations of the Chinese population.

About 60% of Singapore's Indian population speaks Tamil as their native language. Other widely spoken Indian languages are Punjabi, Malayalam, Hindi and Telugu.

Around 5,000 Peranakans, the early Chinese population of the region, still use the Hokkien-influenced Malay dialect that called Baba Malay.

South Africa[edit]

Thirteen options are provided in response to the question "Which two languages does (name) speak most often in this household?", namely the eleven official languages, sign language and "Other".[126]


The languages of Spain (simplified)
  Spanish official and spoken all over the country
  Catalan/Valencian, co-official
  Basque, co-official
  Galician, co-official
  Aranese (a dialect of Occitan), co-official
  Asturian, recognized
  Aragonese, recognized
  Leonese, unofficial
  Extremaduran, unofficial
  Fala, unofficial

Spain is openly multilingual,[127] and the constitution establishes that the nation will protect "all Spaniards and the peoples of Spain in the exercise of human rights, their cultures and traditions, languages and institutions.[128]

Spanish (español)—officially recognized in the constitution as Castilian (castellano)—is the official language of the entire country, and it is the right and duty of every Spaniard to know the language. The constitution also establishes that "all other Spanish languages"—that is, all other languages of Spain—will also be official in their respective autonomous communities in accordance to their Statutes, their organic regional legislations, and that the "richness of the distinct linguistic modalities of Spain represents a patrimony which will be the object of special respect and protection."[129]

The other official languages of Spain, co-official with Spanish are:

As a percentage of the general population, Basque is spoken by 2%, Catalan (or Valencian) by 17%, and Galician by 7% of all Spaniards.[130]

In Catalonia, Aranese (aranés), a local variety of the Occitan language, has been declared co-official along with Catalan and Spanish since 2006. It is spoken only in the comarca of Val d'Aran by roughly 6,700 people. Other Romance minority languages, though not official, have special recognition, such as the Astur-Leonese group (Asturian, asturianu; also called "bable", in Asturias[131] and Leonese, llionés, in Castile and León) and Aragonese (aragonés) in Aragon.

In the North African Spanish autonomous city of Melilla, Riff Berber is spoken by a significant part of the population. In the tourist areas of the Mediterranean coast and the islands, English and German are widely spoken by tourists, foreign residents, and tourism workers.

Sri Lanka[edit]

Both Sinhala and Tamil are the official and national languages of Sri Lanka. The Sinhala language is spoken by the Sinhalese people, who constitute approximately 74% of the national population and total about 13 million. It utilizes the Sinhala abugida script, which is derived from the ancient Brahmi script. The Rodiya language, a dialect of Sinhala, is spoken by the low-caste community of chamodi veddhas. The Veddah peoples, totaling barely 2500,[132] speak a distinct language, possibly a creolized form of an earlier indigenous language. The Tamil language is spoken by Sri Lankan Tamils, as well as by Tamil migrants from the neighboring Indian state of Tamil Nadu and by Sri Lankan Moors. Tamil speakers number around 5 million. There are more than 50,000 speakers of the Sri Lankan Creole Malay language, which is strongly influenced by the Malay language.


Indian immigrants from British India
Butcher market in Paramaribo with signs written in Dutch.

Dutch is the sole official language, and is the language of education, government, business, and the media.[75] Over 60% of the population speak Dutch as a mother tongue,[133] and most of the rest speak it as a second language.

In Paramaribo, Dutch is the main home language in two-thirds of households.[134] The recognition of "Surinaams-Nederlands" ("Surinamese Dutch") as a national dialect equal to "Nederlands-Nederlands" ("Dutch Dutch") and "Vlaams-Nederlands" ("Flemish Dutch") was expressed in 2009 by the publication of the Woordenboek Surinaams Nederlands (Surinamese–Dutch Dictionary).[135] Only in the interior of Suriname is Dutch seldom spoken.

Sranan, a local creole language originally spoken by the creole population group, is the most widely used language in the streets and is often used interchangeably with Dutch depending on the formality of the setting.[136]

Surinamese Hindi or Sarnami, a dialect of Bhojpuri, is the third-most used language, spoken by the descendants of South Asian contract workers from then British India. Javanese is used by the descendants of Javanese contract workers. The Maroon languages, somewhat intelligible with Sranan Tongo, include Saramaka, Paramakan, Ndyuka (also called Aukan), Kwinti and Matawai. Amerindian languages, spoken by Amerindians, include Carib and Arawak. Hakka and Cantonese are spoken by the descendants of the Chinese contract workers. Mandarin is spoken by some few recent Chinese immigrants. English, Spanish and Portuguese are also used. Spanish and Portuguese are spoken by Latin American residents and their descendants and sometimes also taught in schools.


Languages of Switzerland, red German, blue French, green Italian, yellow Romansh

From 1850 until 2000, Switzerland had a census every 10 years. Beginning in 2010, they switched to a yearly system which used a combination of municipal citizen records and a limited number of surveys.[137] Data on the main language spoken by citizens and non-citizen residents has been collected since at least 1970. Of the four official languages, German is the most commonly spoken, with 64.94% of the total population speaking it in 1970 and 63.67% in 2000. French was spoken by 18.09% in 1970 and 20.38% in 2000, while Italian was 11.86% in 1970 and 6.46% in 2000. The fourth national language, Romansh was spoken by just 0.8% in 1970 and 0.48% in 2000. In the 2000 census, English (1.01%), Spanish (1.06%), Portuguese (1.23%), Serbian and Croatian (1.42%) and Albanian (1.30%) were all spoken by significantly more residents than Romansh.[138]

Selected languages from the 1970 to 2000 census are given in the following table:[138]

Census German French Italian Romansh English Dutch Spanish Slavic
Czech and
Czech and
1970 4,071,289 1,134,010 743,760 50,339 32,509 11,935 123,708 30,429 13,028
1980 4,140,901 1,172,502 622,226 51,128 38,494 13,228 118,169 65,779 14,570
1990 4,374,694 1,321,695 524,116 39,632 60,786 11,895 116,818 119,541 8,552
2000 4,640,359 1,485,056 470,961 35,095 73,425 11,840 77,506 120,853 7,462


Arabic is an official language of Syria. Several modern Arabic dialects are used in everyday life, most notably Levantine in the west and Mesopotamian in the northeast. Kurdish (in its Kurmanji form) is widely spoken in the Kurdish regions of Syria. Armenian and Turkish (South Azeri dialect) are spoken among the Armenian and Turkmen minorities.

Aramaic was the lingua franca of the region before the advent of Arabic, and it is still spoken among Assyrians, and Classical Syriac still used as the liturgical language of various Syriac Christian denominations. Most remarkably, Western Neo-Aramaic is still spoken in the village of Ma'loula as well as two neighboring villages, 35 miles (56 km) northeast of Damascus. Many educated Syrians also speak English and French languages.


Mother Tongue in Turkey[139]
Mother Tongue Percentage
Turkish 84.54
Kurmanji 11.97
Arabic 1.38
Zazaki 1.01
Other Turkic languages 0.28
Balkan languages 0.23
Laz 0.12
Circassian 0.11
Armenian 0.07
Caucasian languages 0.07
Greek 0.06
Nordic Languages 0.04
West European languages 0.03
Jewish languages 0.01
Other 0.09


People in Turkmenistan (when it was still a part of the Russian Empire) were enumerated by native tongue in the 1897 Russian Empire Census.[citation needed] In addition to the Soviet Union enumerating people by ethnicity for its entire existence,[citation needed] Turkmenistan also enumerated people by ethnicity in its only post-Soviet census in 1995.[140]


Ethnolinguistic composition of Ukraine.

People in Ukraine (when it was still a part of the Russian Empire) were enumerated by native tongue in the 1897 Russian Empire Census.[141] In addition to the Soviet Union enumerating people by ethnicity for its entire existence,[142] Ukraine also enumerated people by ethnicity and native language in its only post-Soviet census in 2001.[143]

Native language of the population of Ukraine according to the 2001 census.[144]
Language Number of speakers Percent of population
Ukrainian 32,577,468 67.53%
Russian 14,273,670 29.59%
Crimean Tatar 231,382 0.48%
Moldovan 185,032 0.38%
Hungarian 161,618 0.34%
Romanian 142,671 0.30%
Bulgarian 134,396 0.28%
Belarusian 56,249 0.12%
Armenian 51,847 0.11%
Gagauz 23,765 0.05%
Romani 22,603 0.05%
Other language 178,764 0.38%
Did not answer 201,437 0.42%

United States[edit]

Data on language spoken at home and English-speaking ability of individuals age five and older are currently collected in the American Community Survey (an ongoing statistical survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, sent to approximately 250,000 addresses monthly, or 3 million per year).

A variety of questions on language use were asked in the censuses from 1890 to 1970.[145][146] These correspond to the different political purposes and policies for which the data were used. For example, early 20th century questions about mother tongue were used to assess the ethnic or racial background of the population, while the current purpose is to calculate the size of the Limited English Proficient population.[147]

The following three-part question on language spoken at home and English speaking ability was asked on the census long form in 1980, 1990, and 2000, and is the same question asked in the American Community Survey.[145] The data are used for enforcing the Voting Rights Act, determining Department of Education funding for English Language Learners, and implementing language access policies.

a. Does this person speak a language other than English at home?
  • Yes
  • No
b. What is this language? (For example: Korean, Italian, Spanish, Vietnamese)
c. How well does this person speak English?
  • Very well
  • Well
  • Not well
  • Not at all

The coding operations used by the Census Bureau puts the reported answers from the question "What is this language?" into 382 language categories of single languages or language families. These categories represent the most commonly spoken languages other than English at home in the U.S. Due to small sample counts, data tabulations are not generally available for all 382 detailed languages. Instead, the Census Bureau collapses languages into smaller sets. These sets of languages were originally developed following the 1970 Census and are grouped linguistically and geographically.[citation needed]

As of 2014, the simplest collapse recodes the 382 language codes into four major language groups: Spanish; Other Indo-European languages; Asian and Pacific Island languages; and All Other languages. A more detailed collapsing puts the 382 codes into 39 languages and language groups.[148]


People in Uzbekistan (when it was still a part of the Russian Empire) were enumerated by native tongue in the 1897 Russian Empire Census.[citation needed] The Soviet Union (to which Uzbekistan also belonged) enumerated people by ethnicity for its entire existence.[citation needed] Uzbekistan has not conducted any censuses at all since 1989.[149]

Vatican City[edit]

Vatican City enumerated people by ethnicity in 1948.[citation needed]

Its official language is Latin.


People in Vietnam were enumerated by ethnicity in 1979, 1989, 1999, 2009 and 2014.[150]


Ethnoreligious composition of Yemen in 2002.

Yemen enumerated its population by ethnicity in 1994.[citation needed] The British Colony of Aden (which is within Yemen's current borders) enumerated its population by ethnicity in 1946 and 1955.[citation needed]


Zambia has the official language of English


Zimbabwe has 10 different official languages. They are Shona, English, Ndebele, Xhosa, Chewa, Venda, Southern Sotho, Tswana, Tsonga and Tonga.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Though not declared official de jure, the Spanish language is the only one used in the wording of laws, decrees, resolutions, official documents and public acts.
  2. ^ English is also the primary language of the disputed Falkland Islands.
  3. ^ Many elder people also speak a macaronic language of Italian and Spanish called cocoliche, which was originated by the Italian immigrants in the late 19th century.
  4. ^ It gave origin to a mixture of Spanish and German called Belgranodeutsch.


  1. ^ "Article Sixteen of the 2004 Constitution of Afghanistan". 2004. Archived from the original on 2013-10-28. Retrieved 13 June 2012. From among the languages of Pashto, Dari, Uzbeki, Turkmani, Baluchi, Pashai, Nuristani, Pamiri (alsana), Arab and other languages spoken in the country, Pashto and Dari are the official languages of the state.
  2. ^ "Languages of Afghanistan". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2013-11-12.
  3. ^ "Country Profile: Afghanistan" (PDF). Library of Congress Country Studies on Afghanistan. August 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-04-08. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  4. ^ "Population". The World Factbook. CIA. Archived from the original on 2014-03-07. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  5. ^ Leclerc, Jacques (2009-04-05). "Algérie: Situation géographique et démolinguistique". L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde. Université Laval. Archived from the original on 2010-01-24. Retrieved 2010-01-08. "Mais tous les arabophones d'Algérie parlent l'arabe dialectal ou l'arabe dit algérien (ou ses diverses variétés) pour communiquer entre eux. Autrement dit, à l'oral, c'est l'arabe algérien qui sert de langue véhiculaire, mais à l'écrit, c'est l'arabe classique."
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Lewis, Simons & Fennig 2014.
  7. ^ Colantoni & Gurlekian 2004, pp. 107–119.
  8. ^ DellaPergola 2013, pp. 25–26, 49–50.
  9. ^ Ley No. 5598 de la Provincia de Corrientes, 22 de octubre de 2004
  10. ^ Ley No. 6604 de la Provincia de Chaco, 28 de julio de 2010, B.O., (9092)
  11. ^ Aeberhard, Danny; Benson, Andrew; Phillips, Lucy (2000). The rough guide to Argentina. London: Rough Guides. p. 603. ISBN 978-1-85828-569-6.
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  22. ^ a b P. W. Martin and G. Poedjosoedarmo (1996). An overview of the language situation in Brunei Darussalam. In P. W. Martin, C. Ozog & G. Poedjosoedarmo (Eds.), Language use & language change in Brunei Darussalam (pp. 1–23). Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Center for International Studies. p. 7.
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