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Languages

This page shows the value of the Languages information field for all countries in the Country Guide.

Notes on this field are available at the Information Field Notes page.

Afghanistan

Pashtu 35%, Afghan Persian (Dari) 50%, Turkic languages (primarily Uzbek and Turkmen) 11%, 30 minor languages (primarily Balochi and Pashai) 4%, much bilingualism

Albania

Albanian (Tosk is the official dialect), Greek

Algeria

Arabic (official), French, Berber dialects

American Samoa

Samoan (closely related to Hawaiian and other Polynesian languages), English (Note: most people are bilingual)

Andorra

Catalan (official), French, Castilian

Angola

Portuguese (official), Bantu and other African languages

Anguilla

English (official)

Antigua and Barbuda

English (official), local dialects

Argentina

Spanish (official), English, Italian, German, French

Armenia

Armenian 96%, Russian 2%, other 2%

Aruba

Dutch (official), Papiamento (a Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English dialect), English (widely spoken), Spanish

Australia

English, native languages

Austria

German

Azerbaijan

Azeri 89%, Russian 3%, Armenian 2%, other 6% (1995 est.)

Bahamas, The

English, Creole (among Haitian immigrants)

Bahrain

Arabic, English, Farsi, Urdu

Bangladesh

Bangla (official), English

Barbados

English

Belarus

Byelorussian, Russian, other

Belgium

Dutch 58%, French 32%, German 10%, legally bilingual

Belize

English (official), Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib), Creole

Benin

French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)

Bermuda

English (official), Portuguese

Bhutan

Dzongkha (official), Bhotes speak various Tibetan dialects, Nepalese speak various Nepalese dialects

Bolivia

Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara (official)

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian

Botswana

English (official), Setswana

Brazil

Portuguese (official), Spanish, English, French

British Virgin Islands

English (official)

Brunei

Malay (official), English, Chinese

Bulgaria

Bulgarian, secondary languages closely correspond to ethnic breakdown

Burkina Faso

French (official), native African languages belonging to Sudanic family spoken by 90% of the population

Burundi

Kirundi (official), French (official), Swahili (along Lake Tanganyika and in the Bujumbura area)

Cambodia

Khmer (official) 95%, French, English

Cameroon

24 major African language groups, English (official), French (official)

Canada

English 59.3% (official), French 23.2% (official), other 17.5%

Cape Verde

Portuguese, Crioulo (a blend of Portuguese and West African words)

Cayman Islands

English

Central African Republic

French (official), Sangho (lingua franca and national language), Arabic, Hunsa, Swahili

Chad

French (official), Arabic (official), Sara and Sango (in south), more than 100 different languages and dialects

Chile

Spanish

China

Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghaiese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)

Christmas Island

English, Chinese, Malay

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

English, Malay

Colombia

Spanish

Comoros

Arabic (official), French (official), Comoran (a blend of Swahili and Arabic)

Congo, Democratic Republic of the

French (official), Lingala (a lingua franca trade language), Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba

Congo, Republic of the

French (official), Lingala and Monokutuba (lingua franca trade languages), many local languages and dialects (of which Kikongo has the most users)

Cook Islands

English (official), Maori

Costa Rica

Spanish (official), English spoken around Puerto Limon

Cote d'Ivoire

French (official), 60 native dialects with Dioula the most widely spoken

Croatia

Croatian 96%, other 4% (including Italian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, and German)

Cuba

Spanish

Cyprus

Greek, Turkish, English

Czech Republic

Czech

Denmark

Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic (an Inuit dialect), German (small minority) (Note: English is the predominant second language)

Djibouti

French (official), Arabic (official), Somali, Afar

Dominica

English (official), French patois

Dominican Republic

Spanish

Ecuador

Spanish (official), Amerindian languages (especially Quechua)

Egypt

Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes

El Salvador

Spanish, Nahua (among some Amerindians)

Equatorial Guinea

Spanish (official), French (official), pidgin English, Fang, Bubi, Ibo

Eritrea

Afar, Amharic, Arabic, Tigre and Kunama, Tigrinya, other Cushitic languages

Estonia

Estonian (official), Russian, Ukrainian, English, Finnish, other

Ethiopia

Amharic, Tigrinya, Orominga, Guaraginga, Somali, Arabic, other local languages, English (major foreign language taught in schools)

Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

English

Faroe Islands

Faroese (derived from Old Norse), Danish

Fiji

English (official), Fijian, Hindustani

Finland

Finnish 93.4% (official), Swedish 5.9% (official), small Lapp- and Russian-speaking minorities

France

French 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish)

French Guiana

French

French Polynesia

French (official), Tahitian (official)

Gabon

French (official), Fang, Myene, Bateke, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi

Gambia, The

English (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, other indigenous vernaculars

Gaza Strip

Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians), English (widely understood)

Georgia

Georgian 71% (official), Russian 9%, Armenian 7%, Azeri 6%, other 7% (Note: Abkhaz (official in Abkhazia))

Germany

German

Ghana

English (official), African languages (including Akan, Moshi-Dagomba, Ewe, and Ga)

Gibraltar

English (used in schools and for official purposes), Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian

Greece

Greek 99% (official), English, French

Greenland

Greenlandic (East Inuit), Danish, English

Grenada

English (official), French patois

Guadeloupe

French (official) 99%, Creole patois

Guam

English, Chamorro, Japanese

Guatemala

Spanish 60%, Amerindian languages 40% (more than 20 Amerindian languages, including Quiche, Cakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca)

Guernsey

English, French, Norman-French dialect spoken in country districts

Guinea

French (official), each ethnic group has its own language

Guinea-Bissau

Portuguese (official), Crioulo, African languages

Guyana

English, Amerindian dialects, Creole, Hindi, Urdu

Haiti

French (official), Creole (official)

Holy See (Vatican City)

Italian, Latin, various other languages

Honduras

Spanish, Amerindian dialects

Hong Kong

Chinese (Cantonese), English; both are official

Hungary

Hungarian 98.2%, other 1.8%

Iceland

Icelandic

India

English enjoys associate status but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication, Hindi the national language and primary tongue of 30% of the people, Bengali (official), Telugu (official), Marathi (official), Tamil (official), Urdu (official), Gujarati (official), Malayalam (official), Kannada (official), Oriya (official), Punjabi (official), Assamese (official), Kashmiri (official), Sindhi (official), Sanskrit (official), Hindustani (a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India) (Note: 24 languages each spoken by a million or more persons; numerous other languages and dialects, for the most part mutually unintelligible)

Indonesia

Bahasa Indonesia (official, modified form of Malay), English, Dutch, local dialects, the most widely spoken of which is Javanese

Iran

Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%

Iraq

Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Assyrian, Armenian

Ireland

English is the language generally used, Irish (Gaelic) spoken mainly in areas located along the western seaboard

Israel

Hebrew (official), Arabic used officially for Arab minority, English most commonly used foreign language

Italy

Italian (official), German (parts of Trentino-Alto Adige region are predominantly German speaking), French (small French-speaking minority in Valle d'Aosta region), Slovene (Slovene-speaking minority in the Trieste-Gorizia area)

Jamaica

English, Creole

Japan

Japanese

Jersey

English (official), French (official), Norman-French dialect spoken in country districts

Jordan

Arabic (official), English widely understood among upper and middle classes

Kazakhstan

Kazakh (Qazaq, state language) 40%, Russian (official, used in everyday business) 66%

Kenya

English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages

Kiribati

English (official), Gilbertese

Korea, North

Korean

Korea, South

Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school

Kuwait

Arabic (official), English widely spoken

Kyrgyzstan

Kirghiz (Kyrgyz) - official language, Russian - official language (Note: in March 1996, the Kyrgyzstani legislature amended the constitution to make Russian an official language, along with Kirghiz, in territories and work places where Russian-speaking citizens predominate)

Laos

Lao (official), French, English, and various ethnic languages

Latvia

Lettish (official), Lithuanian, Russian, other

Lebanon

Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian widely understood

Lesotho

Sesotho (southern Sotho), English (official), Zulu, Xhosa

Liberia

English 20% (official), some 20 ethnic group languages, of which a few can be written and are used in correspondence

Libya

Arabic, Italian, English, all are widely understood in the major cities

Liechtenstein

German (official), Alemannic dialect

Lithuania

Lithuanian (official), Polish, Russian

Luxembourg

Luxembourgian, German, French, English

Macau

Portuguese, Chinese (Cantonese)

Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of

Macedonian 70%, Albanian 21%, Turkish 3%, Serbo-Croatian 3%, other 3%

Madagascar

French (official), Malagasy (official)

Malawi

English (official), Chichewa (official), other languages important regionally

Malaysia

Bahasa Melayu (official), English, Chinese dialects (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai; note - in addition, in East Malaysia several indigenous languages are spoken, the largest of which are Iban and Kadazan

Maldives

Maldivian Dhivehi (dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic), English spoken by most government officials

Mali

French (official), Bambara 80%, numerous African languages

Malta

Maltese (official), English (official)

Man, Isle of

English, Manx Gaelic

Marshall Islands

English (universally spoken and is the official language), two major Marshallese dialects from the Malayo-Polynesian family, Japanese

Martinique

French, Creole patois

Mauritania

Hasaniya Arabic (official), Pular, Soninke, Wolof (official), French

Mauritius

English (official), Creole, French, Hindi, Urdu, Hakka, Bojpoori

Mayotte

Mahorian (a Swahili dialect), French (official language) spoken by 35% of the population

Mexico

Spanish, various Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional indigenous languages

Micronesia, Federated States of

English (official and common language), Trukese, Pohnpeian, Yapese, Kosrean

Moldova

Moldovan (official, virtually the same as the Romanian language), Russian, Gagauz (a Turkish dialect)

Monaco

French (official), English, Italian, Monegasque

Mongolia

Khalkha Mongol 90%, Turkic, Russian

Montserrat

English

Morocco

Arabic (official), Berber dialects, French often the language of business, government, and diplomacy

Mozambique

Portuguese (official), indigenous dialects

Myanmar

Burmese, minority ethnic groups have their own languages

Namibia

English 7% (official), Afrikaans common language of most of the population and about 60% of the white population, German 32%, indigenous languages: Oshivambo, Herero, Nama

Nauru

Nauruan (official, a distinct Pacific Island language), English widely understood, spoken, and used for most government and commercial purposes

Nepal

Nepali (official), over 20 other languages divided into numerous dialects

Netherlands

Dutch

Netherlands Antilles

Dutch (official), Papiamento (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect) predominates, English widely spoken, Spanish

New Caledonia

French (official), 33 Melanesian-Polynesian dialects

New Zealand

English (official), Maori

Nicaragua

Spanish (official) (Note: English and indigenous languages on Atlantic coast)

Niger

French (official), Hausa, Djerma

Nigeria

English (official), Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), Fulani

Niue

Polynesian closely related to Tongan and Samoan, English

Norfolk Island

English (official), Norfolk a mixture of 18th century English and ancient Tahitian

Northern Mariana Islands

English, Chamorro, Carolinian (Note: 86% of population speaks a language other than English at home)

Norway

Norwegian (official) (Note: small Lapp- and Finnish-speaking minorities)

Oman

Arabic (official), English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects

Pakistan

Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%, Urdu (official) 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, English (official and lingua franca of Pakistani elite and most government ministries), Burushaski, and other 8%

Palau

English and Palauan official in all states except Sonsoral (Sonsorolese and English are official), Tobi (Tobi and English are official), and Angaur (Angaur, Japanese, and English are official)

Panama

Spanish (official), English 14% (Note: many Panamanians bilingual)

Papua New Guinea

English spoken by 1%-2%, pidgin English widespread, Motu spoken in Papua region (Note: 715 indigenous languages)

Paraguay

Spanish (official), Guarani (spoken by most of rural population)

Peru

Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara

Philippines

Pilipino (official, based on Tagalog), English (official)

Pitcairn Islands

English (official), Pitcairnese, Tahitian, 18th century English dialect

Poland

Polish

Portugal

Portuguese

Puerto Rico

Spanish, English

Qatar

Arabic (official), English commonly used as a second language

Reunion

French (official), Creole widely used

Romania

Romanian, Hungarian, German

Russia

Russian, other

Rwanda

Kinyarwanda (official) universal Bantu vernacular, French (official), English (official), Kiswahili (Swahili) used in commercial centers

Saint Helena

English

Saint Kitts and Nevis

English

Saint Lucia

English (official), French patois

Saint Pierre and Miquelon

French

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

English, French patois

Samoa

Samoan (Polynesian), English

San Marino

Italian

Sao Tome and Principe

Portuguese (official)

Saudi Arabia

Arabic

Senegal

French (official), Wolof, Pulaar, Jola, Mandinka

Serbia and Montenegro

Serbian 95%, Albanian 5%

Seychelles

English (official), French (official), Creole

Sierra Leone

English (official, regular use limited to literate minority), Mende (principal vernacular in the south), Temne (principal vernacular in the north), Krio (English-based Creole, spoken by the descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area, a lingua franca and a first language for 10% of the population but understood by 95%)

Singapore

Chinese (official), Malay (official and national), Tamil (official), English (official)

Slovakia

Slovak (official), Hungarian

Slovenia

Slovenian 91%, Serbo-Croatian 6%, other 3%

Solomon Islands

Melanesian pidgin in much of the country is lingua franca, English spoken by 1%-2% of population (Note: 120 indigenous languages)

Somalia

Somali (official), Arabic, Italian, English

South Africa

11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu

Spain

Castilian Spanish (official) 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, Basque 2%

Sri Lanka

Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (national language) 18% (Note: English is commonly used in government and is spoken competently by about 10% of the population)

Sudan

Arabic (official), Nubian, Ta Bedawie, diverse dialects of Nilotic, Nilo-Hamitic, Sudanic languages, English (Note: program of Arabization in process)

Suriname

Dutch (official), English (widely spoken), Sranang Tongo (Surinamese, sometimes called Taki-Taki, is native language of Creoles and much of the younger population and is lingua franca among others), Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Javanese

Svalbard

Russian, Norwegian

Swaziland

English (official, government business conducted in English), siSwati (official)

Sweden

Swedish (Note: small Lapp- and Finnish-speaking minorities)

Switzerland

German (official) 63.7%, French (official) 19.2%, Italian (official) 7.6%, Romansch 0.6%, other 8.9%

Syria

Arabic (official); Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian widely understood; French, English somewhat understood

Taiwan

Mandarin Chinese (official), Taiwanese (Min), Hakka dialects

Tajikistan

Tajik (official), Russian widely used in government and business

Tanzania

Kiswahili or Swahili (official), Kiunguju (name for Swahili in Zanzibar), English (official, primary language of commerce, administration, and higher education), Arabic (widely spoken in Zanzibar), many local languages (Note: Kiswahili (Swahili) is the mother tongue of the Bantu people living in Zanzibar and nearby coastal Tanzania; although Kiswahili is Bantu in structure and origin, its vocabulary draws on a variety of sources, including Arabic and English, and it has become the lingua franca of central and eastern Africa; the first language of most people is one of the local languages)

Thailand

Thai, English (secondary language of the elite), ethnic and regional dialects

Togo

French (official and the language of commerce), Ewe and Mina (the two major African languages in the south), Kabye (sometimes spelled Kabiye) and Dagomba (the two major African languages in the north)

Tokelau

Tokelauan (a Polynesian language), English

Tonga

Tongan, English

Trinidad and Tobago

English (official), Hindi, French, Spanish, Chinese

Tunisia

Arabic (official and one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce)

Turkey

Turkish (official), Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian, Greek

Turkmenistan

Turkmen 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%

Turks and Caicos Islands

English (official)

Tuvalu

Tuvaluan, English

Uganda

English (official national language, taught in grade schools, used in courts of law and by most newspapers and some radio broadcasts), Ganda or Luganda (most widely used of the Niger-Congo languages, preferred for native language publications in the capital and may be taught in school), other Niger-Congo languages, Nilo-Saharan languages, Swahili, Arabic

Ukraine

Ukrainian, Russian, Romanian, Polish, Hungarian

United Arab Emirates

Arabic (official), Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu

United Kingdom

English, Welsh (about 26% of the population of Wales), Scottish form of Gaelic (about 60,000 in Scotland)

United States

English, Spanish (spoken by a sizable minority)

Uruguay

Spanish, Portunol, or Brazilero (Portuguese-Spanish mix on the Brazilian frontier)

Uzbekistan

Uzbek 74.3%, Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%

Vanuatu

English (official), French (official), pidgin (known as Bislama or Bichelama)

Venezuela

Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects

Vietnam

Vietnamese (official), Chinese, English, French, Khmer, tribal languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)

Virgin Islands

English (official), Spanish, Creole

Wallis and Futuna

French, Wallisian (indigenous Polynesian language)

West Bank

Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians), English (widely understood)

Western Sahara

Hassaniya Arabic, Moroccan Arabic

Yemen

Arabic

Zambia

English (official), major vernaculars - Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja, Tonga, and about 70 other indigenous languages

Zimbabwe

English (official), Shona, Sindebele (the language of the Ndebele, sometimes called Ndebele), numerous but minor tribal dialects
 

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