Most widely spoken languages in the world

Most widely spoken Languages in the World.

What are the most spoken languages in the world?

In how many countries people speak...?

On this page you will find answers to this questions. The figures below are more or less reasonable assumptions

based on various data sources, but they give an overview of which languages are most used worldwide.

In this context there are various zealous debates, disputes and discussions about following points:

- Should the more than fifteen dialects of spoken Arabic, defined by geographical areas, considered as one Language?

- Should the various dialects of spoken Chinese considered as one Language?

- Should English considered to be a German dialect?

(That was not a joke, because English is a West Germanic language.)

- The number of official languages of countries.

This numbers vary utmost from source to source, e.g.:

"English is the official language of only seven countries".

(Michael Lerner, President, Learn the for IBM)

The ISO 3166-1 code lists 83 countries and regions with English as "official language".

(ISO 3166-1 Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions.)

Ethnologue states: English is spoken in the United Kingdom and in 104 other countries.

And here we come to the problem with

- The number of second language speakers, Ethnologue says, and no one put that into question, that English is spoken in the United Kingdom and in 104 other countries, well but what is with the other let's say100 countries and regions in the world?

English is the most widely used "second" and "learning" language in the world used for international communication in various fields like aviation, business, internet, science and technology to name only some

Most Common Languages

List of languages by total speakers, ranked by numbers of first language speakers. (est. 1999)


ISO 639-2 chi/zho

alpha-3 code

Population total all countries first language speakers    |   Including second language speakers


汉语/漢語 Hànyǔ or 中文 Zhōngwén

official language in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore and Taiwan.




Chinese (普通话/普通話 Pǔtōnghuà, Putonghua)       874 000 000   1 052 000 000

Standard Chinese (Mandarin)


Chinese, Wu (吴语/ 吳語 - Wú yǔ) 77 175 000 77 175 000

includes Shanghainese


Chinese, Yue (粤语/粵語 - Yuht yúh) 52 000 000 71 000 000

includes Cantonese and Taishanese


Chinese, Jinyu (晋语/晉語 - Jìn yǔ) 45 000 000 45 000 000

Chinese, Min Nan (闽语/閩語 - Mǐnyǔ) 45 000 000 45 000 000

includes Hokkien, Taiwanese and Teochew


Chinese, Hakka (客家话/客家話 - Hak-kâ-va) 33 000 000 33 000 000

Chinese, Gan (赣语/贛語 - Gànyǔ) 20 580 000 20 580 000

 Total Chinese:

without several million speakers of other Chinese dialects.1 146 755 000       1 343 755 000


मानक हिन्दी - Mānak Hindī

Modern Standard Hindi is a standardised variety of the Hindustani language.

It is one of the official languages in India (as Hindi, Urdu) and in Pakistan (as Urdu).



366 000 000

487 000 000


has been widely dispersed around the world, it is official language in 83 countries/regions (ISO), spoken in 105 other countries (E).

Curiosity: English language does not have official status in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.



341 000 000

508 000 000


español ("Spanish") and castellano ("Castilian")

with the expansion of the former Spanish Empire (Spain), the language spread around the world, it is official language in 21 countries (ISO), spoken in 44 countries (E); Mexico contains the largest population of Spanish speakers.



322 200 000 to

358 000 000

417 000 000



Official language in 26 countries (ISO), spoken (in various dialects) in the Middle east, north Africa, Arabian Peninsula and other Islamic countries.



280 000 000

(figures: UNHCR)



বাংলা - Bangla

Official language in Bangladesh (ISO), spoken in 8 other countries (E).



207 000 000

211 000 000



Natively spoken in Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, and East Timor; official language in 9 countries (ISO), spoken in 34 countries (E).



176 000 000

191 000 000


ру́сский язы́к - russkij jazyk; literal: Russian language

Most widely spoken of the Slavic languages, spoken in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, official (or co-official) language in 4 countries (ISO), spoken in 31 countries (E).



167 000 000

277 000 000


日本語 - Nihongo

official language in Japan and spoken in Japanese emigrant communities around the world.



125 000 000

126 000 000


in German: Deutsch

German is official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Italy (South Tyrol); 5 countries (ISO), spoken in 40 other countries (E).



121 000 000

128 000 000


in Thai: ภาษาไต - p̣hās̛̄ā tay, literal: language Thai

National languages of Thailand and Laos. The Tai-Kadai languages, also known as Kadai, Kradai, or Kra-Dai languages, and in China as Zhuang-Dong languages, are a tonal language family found in southern China and Southeast Asia.



83 000 000

up to 100 million



Korean: 한국어 - Hangugeo

spoken in North Korea, South Korea; one of two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, China.



78 000 000

78 000 000


in French: le français

is spoken as a first language in France, French-speaking Switzerland, in parts of Belgium, (Brussels), Monaco, and in parts of Canada, (Quebec), and by French communities elsewhere. Official language in 40 countries (ISO), spoken in 54 countries (E)



77 000 000

128 000 000

Source: Ethnologue (E);  UNHCR ;  ISO/CD 3166-1 country codes (ISO);  and others