The surprising country with the most languages in the world

7,117 languages spoken around the world

Would you believe it but according to the 2019 Ethnologue Language Database, there are 7,117 languages spoken around the world! If you have not heard of them before, Ethnologue is the research centre for language intelligence.
The fascinating infographic below published by the South China Morning Post indicates that there are at least 7,102 known languages around the world today.

The most languages in the world

Out of these 7,102 languages, 23 are a mother tongue for more than 50 million people.
But, I hear you say, this does not answer the question of which country has the most languages in the world?
Well, it is not India, with its 453 languages. And it is not Indonesia, with its smashing 710! (source: Statista)
I give it to you [drum roll] …. Yes, it is Papua New Guinea (PNG) in Oceania! With a population of only around 7.7 million!

Four official languages

Out of PNG’s 840 languages, there are only four official languages: due to its colonial history, English is the main language of government and commerce and only spoken by 1-2% of the population. In everyday situations, the most widely spoken language is Tok Pisin, a creole language that evolved from English. The third official language is Hiri Motu, a simplified trading language and the fourth language is sign language. And though it is the second largest islands in the world (after Greenland) and is slightly larger than the state of California.

The Trans-New-Guinea Family According to Malcolm Ross

The most linguistically diverse country in the world

The country’s geography is rugged, and many tribes live in the isolated mountainous interior and have very little contact with the outside world or even with one another. Some 80% of PNG’s people actually live in rural areas. PNG is also split over 600 islands with travelling often difficult. These various factors probably explain why there are still so many indigenous languages.
Papua New Guinea is definitely the most linguistically diverse country in the world!

Published by Estelle Demontrond-Box

Language Teacher, CIoL-certified Translator, Published Writer, I am from Besançon, France and now live in Sydney, Australia. Enseignante de langues (CAPES d'anglais), Traductrice certifiée (CIoL) et Auteure publiée, originaire de Besançon, je vis désormais à Sydney, Australie.

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