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The worlds languages in 7 maps and charts

These seven maps and charts, visualized by The Washington Post, will help you understand how diverse other parts of the world are in terms of languages.

These maps show worlds least religious countries

6. Nevertheless, most languages are spoken only by a handful of people. Thats why about half of the worlds languages will disappear by the end of the century

As our visualization of Greenbergs diversity index shows, the United States is not as linguistically diverse as many other nations.

If you randomly select two people in Cameroon, for instance, there is a 97 percent likelihood that they will have different mother tongues. In the United States, there is only a 33 percent likelihood that this is going to happen. You can click on the various countries shown in the map above to find out how the United States compares with other countries.

7. This chart shows how many people learn a language all over the world

Rick Noack is a foreign affairs reporter who covers Europe and international security issues from The Washington Posts Berlin bureau. Previously, he worked for The Post from Washington as an Arthur F. Burns Fellow and from London.Follow

The reason why English, French and Spanish are among the worlds most widespread languages has its roots in the imperial past of the nations where they originate.

About 3 percent of the worlds population accounts for 96 percent of all languages spoken today. Out of all languages in the world, 2,000 have fewer than 1,000 native speakers.

5. English is widely used as an official language

The second most spoken languages around the world (Olivet Nazarene University/ Digital Third Coast)

Hence, according toUNESCOestimates, which we visualized in the map above, about half of the worlds spoken languages will disappear by the end of the century. You can click on the map to enlarge it.

Chinese has more native speakers than any other language, followed by Hindi and Urdu, which have the same linguistic origins in northern India. English comes next with 527 million native speakers. Arabic is used by nearly 100 million more native speakers than Spanish.

Some languages have only recently gained attention: The number of U.S. colleges that teach Chinese hasrisenby 110 percent between 1990 and 2013, making the language more accessible. During the same time, the number of offered Russian college coursesdecreasedby 30 percent.

However, whether a country has English as its official language says little about how its citizens really communicate with one another. In some of the nations highlighted above, only a tiny minority learned English as a native language.

2. These are some of the languages with the most native speakers

The number for Portuguese is smaller than other sources suggest because not all Brazilians are native speakers. Some might also be surprised that Korean or Punjabi do not show up on the list: Indeed, both are nearly as widely spoken as Italian.

Not all continents are equally diverse in the number of spoken languages. Whereas Asia leads thestatisticswith 2,301 languages, Africa follows closely with 2,138.

The numbers are fascinating because they reflect the fact that two-thirds of the worlds population share only 12 native languages. Those numbers were recently published by the University of Dsseldorfs Ulrich Ammon, who conducted a 15-year-long study.

There are about 1,300 languages in the Pacific, and 1,064 in South and North America. Europe, despite its many nation-states, is at the bottom of the pack with just 286.

1. Some continents have more languages than others

Some language skills could be more rewarding than others. If you are able to speak German, Americans could earn $128,000 extra throughout their career, according to MITscientistAlbert Saiz. At least financially, German is worth twice as much as French and nearly three times as much as Spanish, for instance.

Globally,the Amazon rain forest, sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, Australia and Southeast Asia are about to lose the most languages.

How English soccer teams rule the world

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3. This map shows the countries with the most and least diversity of languages

Whereas English lags behind in the number of native speakers, it is by far the worlds most commonly studied language. Overall, more people learn English than French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, German and Chinese combined.

4. Many popular languages are spoken in more than just one country

Linguistic extinction will hit some countries and regions harder than others. In the United States, endangered languages are primarily located along the West coast, as well as in reservations of indigenous people in theMidwest.

Lazaro Gamio made interactive graphics for The Washington Post. He left The Post in January 2017.Follow

His numbers are surprising, compared with the ones featured in theCIAs Factbook. According to the CIA, Spanish is spoken by 4.85 percent of the worlds population and its use is even more widespread than English, which is spoken by 4.83 percent. However, the CIA numbers include only first native languages. Many people are bilingual, and whereas Spanish might be their first native language, English could be their second one. Ammon counts both first and second native language speakers.

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