7,099 languages are spoken today.
That number is constantly in flux because we’re learning more about the world’s languages every day. And beyond that, the languages themselves are in flux. They’re living and dynamic, spoken by communities whose lives are shaped by our rapidly changing world. This is a fragile time: Roughly a third of languages are now endangered, often with less than 1,000 speakers remaining. Meanwhile, just 23 languages account for more than half the world’s population.
86% of people use Asian or European languages
Most languages are densely concentrated in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. But how many people actually speak them? The vast majority of us use Asian or European languages, which may not be surprising given the sheer population of certain areas as well as colonial expansion in recent centuries. By contrast, Pacific languages – which account for 18.5% of the world’s languages – are spoken by so few people that the region barely even registers.
Pacific languages, along with North and South American, have just 1,000 speakers each on average. But together, they represent more than a third of our world’s languages. These tiny communities may not have a loud voice on the global stage, but they hold much of our shared linguistic heritage.
Some countries have hundreds of languages
Languages are spread unequally throughout the world. That trend is clear whether we’re looking at whole regions or individual countries.
More than twice the number of languages spoken across Europe can be found in Papua New Guinea alone.