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Countries With the Most Languages

Guess the 20 countries in which the most languages are spoken.
According to Ethnologue
Living languages only. Includes both native and immigrant languages
Quiz by Macaco
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Last updated: February 2, 2019
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First submittedJuly 21, 2014
Times taken146,948
Average score65.0%
Rating4.89
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#
Country
841
Papua New Guinea
710
Indonesia
526
Nigeria
455
India
334
United States
302
China
292
Mexico
#
Country
278
Cameroon
250
Australia
228
Brazil
213
D.R. Congo
194
Canada
191
Philippines
156
Russia
#
Country
145
Malaysia
132
Chad
126
Tanzania
125
Nepal
118
Myanmar
117
Vanuatu
+8
Level 88
Feb 6, 2018
Can anyone explain Vanuatu?
+220
Level 83
Feb 9, 2018
It was created by volcanoes, and that's why it's here today.
+8
Level 74
Feb 9, 2018
Great reply :D
+2
Level 41
Mar 25, 2019
Lol
+24
Level 77
May 6, 2019
No I can't explain it, but isn't it amazing? Current population estimates for Vanuatu are around 287,000 which, with 117 languages, means that there is an average of around 2,450 speakers per language. That even makes Welsh seem like a major language.
+3
Level 65
Jan 22, 2020
Hard to strike up a conversation there ;) you start talking to someone and all they do is look back with a confused look or blank stare.
+16
Level 56
Jul 5, 2020
I wonder... What makes a language and what makes a dialect is very unclear. Mandarin and Cantonese are famously "dialects" one of the other, but are mutually unintelligible, whereas Dutch and Afrikaans are "languages" but are very similar. A colleague of mine once gave me a sentence in five of the languages of her native Zambia - four were very much like each other. Perhaps these 117 languages are very closely related.
+1
Level 67
Nov 14, 2023
They are. All of them are in the Oceanic branch of Austronesian, which is roughly the same relationship as West Germanic to Indo-European, so Vanuatu's diversity is probably around the level of Germany or Spain.
+24
Level 35
Sep 14, 2020
Did you know that during the 1918 flu pandemic because Vanuatu has so many languages the flu wiped out 20 unique languages on Vanuatu
+1
Level 58
Oct 23, 2022
wow
+1
Level 49
Nov 14, 2022
Vanuatu mainly uses Bislama for interethnic communication. A sizable chunk of the population speaks English as well.
+45
Level 88
Feb 26, 2018
"Welcome to Papua New Guinea, where every household speaks their own language." Also, I am really surprised South Africa isn't here, given that they're well known for having 12 official languages.
+13
Level 50
Jun 1, 2018
Yes, I was surprised by that too. I tried Kenya and South Africa and then thought that there probably weren't any in Africa. Big mistake.
+35
Level 62
Jun 2, 2018
It must be hell to order a pizza in PNG.
+8
Level 75
Aug 26, 2018
I think Pepperoni is the same in every PNG dialect.
+3
Level 72
Sep 20, 2019
Or maybe just order a people pizza.
+3
Level 69
Sep 20, 2020
Only in the North. Never in Port Moresby.
+2
Level 68
Mar 29, 2021
South Africa has 11 official languages.
+21
Level 88
Mar 6, 2018
Vanuatu only has 270.000 people. That means a different language per 2307 inhabitans on average.
+3
Level 34
May 13, 2018
I had 0:34 sec left on the clock and then I thought of Chad. %100.
+36
Level 44
Jun 5, 2018
Is it because Chad is your boyfriend?
+5
Level 61
Jun 1, 2018
Weird that my country, Belgium isn't on the list. I live in Brussels and it's already a very diverse and multilingual city. It's probably as diverse as London or New York, even if it's a much smaller city. Thanks to the EU and NATO headquarters, almost all countries have representation here.
+3
Level 45
Jun 1, 2018
Maybe it only counts permanent residents?
+16
Level 66
Jun 3, 2018
I think most of the countries here have incredibly diverse indigenous populations. What we consider multiculturalism related to recent immigration is probably secondary in determining these numbers. In my home country for example, there were some 250 Aboriginal languages and over 600 dialects spoken before European invasion. Of those languages, 145 still survive today. This is according to the Aboriginal creativespirits website. Wikipedia gives different numbers.
+2
Level 41
Mar 25, 2019
Brexit....
+6
Level 50
May 24, 2019
Stop Brexit now!
+2
Level 22
Jun 11, 2022
Happened in 2020 on January 31 at 23:00
+2
Level 42
May 6, 2019
i also live in Brussels
+4
Level 34
Jun 1, 2018
UK, South Africa, Philippines surprising omissions - perhaps criteria for languages being spoken are not as obvious as we all think.
+6
Level 78
Jun 1, 2018
Philippines is there, with 191 languages.
+2
Level 32
Jun 1, 2018
I missed Tanzania, Vanuatu and my own country australia.
+11
Level 86
Jun 1, 2018
Dang. I was so sure Bolivia would be on here with their 30+ official languages.
+97
Level 86
Jun 1, 2018
Quiz strategy:

Step 1: Guess big countries

Step 2: Guess countries close to the ones that came up in Step 1

Step 3: After getting Nigeria, guess every country in Africa except the correct answers

Step 4: VANUATU???

+5
Level 82
Jun 1, 2018
This time when I took the quiz I got ever answer except for the country that I'm sitting in. d'oh..
+2
Level 50
Jun 1, 2018
Which country is that?
+5
Level 82
Jun 2, 2018
I've been in the Philippines most of the last year and through the present, minus a few months I spent in Thailand and Japan.
+6
Level 37
Aug 13, 2021
ok kally boy
+6
Level 82
Sep 21, 2021
Do you insert yourself into conversations to make pointless vaguely disparaging comments at parties, too? Points to pretty extreme insecurity.
+2
Level 64
Dec 6, 2023
I think they just wanted to call you kally boy, kally boy
+5
Level 20
Jun 1, 2018
The symbol in the picture is on the flag of papua new guinea yet people still miss it
+12
Level 86
Jun 1, 2018
Not one of the more well-known flags, I would say.
+6
Level 88
Sep 20, 2020
I think it's one of the more distinctive national flags, actually. I'm not very good with flag recognition but I can always pick out this one thanks to the bird of paradise.
+1
Level 54
Aug 11, 2023
I didn't even notice the thumbnail but ended up getting PNG with a lucky guess near the end
+2
Level 23
Jun 1, 2018
And I thought Chad isn't on the list.
+7
Level 73
Sep 20, 2020
No he's usually off playing football, but this time he showed up.
+2
Level 61
Sep 20, 2018
WHY DID I NOT GET CHINA
+12
Level 41
Mar 25, 2019
Because you live in Guam
+3
Level 79
Oct 8, 2019
No he does not.
+2
Level 48
Feb 1, 2019
I got Vanuatu but missed Tanzania...
+4
Level 82
May 6, 2019
I think there were 64 languages spoken just at the industrial laundry facility in Manassas where I worked after high school. That was one building with 150 employees (and about 15 guys named Kwame).
+12
Level 75
Oct 9, 2019
In contrast, everyone at my high school in the 1960s spoke English until a Spanish-speaking family moved to a farm in the area. We were so excited to hear someone speak a different language. We had no ethnic restaurants, either. I was excited when my best friend's uncle moved to Texas and they brought back some strange things called tortillas and she invited me to her house for a new food called tacos. I also remember the first pizza restaurant that came to a large town twenty miles away. Everyone was driving there on weekends to try it. I was an adult before I ate my first Chinese food. It's a little more diverse in my rural area now but not by much.
+5
Level 67
Sep 20, 2020
I really like your stories and observations. They are among my favorite comments.
+4
Level 71
Sep 20, 2020
Just out of curiosity ander, what state are you from?
+5
Level 82
Sep 21, 2020
the rural part of Missouri
+3
Level 71
Sep 21, 2020
Makes sense
+3
Level 32
May 24, 2019
It depends whether we are talking official languages or merely tourists and immigrants.

South Africa has 11 official languages, would surely have made the list had this been the criteria.

+1
Level 60
Aug 11, 2023
I doubt we count tourists.
+4
Level 66
Aug 6, 2019
Wow Papua New Guinea has 841 languages for a population of around 8 million. That's one language per every 10'000 people. basically said every "village" has their own language. Impressive.
+2
Level 38
Sep 14, 2019
I got Vanuatu but forgot Russia :(((((((
+5
Level 82
Jan 22, 2020
Some of these "distinct languages" I bet are just dialects of the same language and less different than Cockney and Jamaican English, yet those are both considered the same language.
+3
Level 55
Mar 18, 2022
You would be incorrect to say that
+2
Level 82
Apr 21, 2022
you sound like a trustworthy and credible expert.
+1
Level 24
Aug 11, 2023
You too
+4
Level 43
Jan 22, 2020
Yes, I´m brazillian and I know this. Brazil has many languages ​​besides Portuguese. Municipalities here have already adopted more than one language as an official. These languages ​​are mainly indigenous, but also some old European languages, as Brazil is very mixed.

To quote:

- São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Amazonas = Portuguese, Nheengatu, Tucano and Baníua.

- Tacuru, Mato Grosso do Sul = Portuguese and Guarani.

- Santa Maria do Herval, Rio Grande do Sul = Portuguese and Pomeranian.

- Pomerode, Santa Catarina = Portuguese and Pomeranian.

+5
Level 27
Mar 20, 2020
I always thought india was the most diverse in languages
+4
Level 56
Jul 5, 2020
Me too. I'm still not totally convinced it's not. Probably depends a great deal on how you define "language" and "dialect".
+1
Level 65
Dec 30, 2022
It's probably the most diverse when it comes to major languages, even if some varieties aren't counted as languages.
+2
Level 22
Jul 31, 2020
I am a Filipino, I know Cebuano and some languages but not speak them.
+7
Level 49
Sep 14, 2020
obviously vatican city... duh
+4
Level 67
Sep 21, 2020
I would love to know the opposite, especially accounting for populations. Like if there is some kind of average (eg., there is an average of one language for every 20,000 residents), which country is at the lowest end of the spectrum? My gut says Japan, given its high population and homogeneous population. But it's probably China, just because there are so many people there.
+4
Level 82
Sep 21, 2020
It's not per capita, but I found while researching my Countries that Beat Tuvalu quiz that Tuvalu is likely the country of the world where the fewest languages are spoken. Only 2-4 languages are uttered across the entire country.
+2
Level 64
Sep 23, 2020
Great quiz!
+2
Level 56
Nov 3, 2020
Love this quiz!
+2
Level 37
Nov 6, 2020
There are around 190 nationalities living in the UAE. Surprisingly its not on the list
+2
Level 58
Apr 14, 2021
Vanuatu!.... huh, neat.
+2
Level 43
Apr 15, 2021
How. Did. I. Forget. Mexico.
+1
Level 15
May 13, 2021
NICE!!!
+1
Level 73
Jun 26, 2021
I'm annoyed because I guessed Solomon Islands but not Vanuatu...
+1
Level 67
Aug 4, 2021
16, missed Phillippines, Cameroon, Chad, Vanuatu
+5
Level 29
Nov 3, 2021
did you know that someone in the UK can enlist in the army at 16 but need to be 18 to purchase Call Of Duty
+4
Level 65
Jan 22, 2022
this is a languages quiz...
+1
Level 60
Jan 24, 2024
this is a wendy's
+1
Level 65
Jan 11, 2022
Cool quiz, another interesting one would be the countries with the most major languages, or with the highest average number of their languages' speakers.
+1
Level 48
Jan 22, 2022
Oh wow, I didn't expect to see Vanuatu here...
+2
Level 56
Jan 22, 2022
I was wondering how many indigenous languages were included in this quiz: it seemed to me that countries like South Africa have many languages that are not "official".
+2
Level 32
Jan 22, 2022
I literally missed Canada, Russia, United States, and China. But I somehow managed Vanuatu? ?????
+1
Level 42
Jan 29, 2022
only missed chad :/
+3
Level 32
Apr 12, 2022
It's pretty amazing that Papua New Guinea, which is mostly half of an island, has more languages than Indonesia, which is the other half and many other islands of the same size.
+1
Level 51
Apr 21, 2022
Vanuatu has 117 languages? Do you have any source because it sounds fake. Great quiz though!
+4
Level 49
Nov 14, 2022
Melanesian countries are extremely linguistically diverse considering their size. Because of this, they are studied heavily by linguists. The Internet suggests that 138-145 languages are spoken in Vanuatu, so 117 seems to be a lower estimate.
+1
Level 55
May 3, 2022
I somehow missed nepal
+1
Level 16
Jun 13, 2022
100% 1:13
+1
Level 35
Oct 1, 2022
malaysia...
+1
Level 16
Nov 15, 2022
Vanautu?????
+1
Level 59
Feb 11, 2023
Yeah, I agree. Isn't Vanuatu, like, one of the smallest countries? Maybe each island speaks a different language. However, that would mean there would have to be 117 islands that make up Vanuatu. And personally, I don't think Vanuatu has that many islands.
+1
Level 64
Dec 6, 2023
Papua New Guinea is a relatively small country too, but both have, and are famous for, their linguistic diversity.
+2
Level 24
Mar 23, 2023
This definitely doesn't include immigrant languages. According to the population registry in Finland, around 200 languages are registered that have some speakers, including Swedish, Sami, Punjabi and Cree. I'm assuming by "immigrant" languages they mean old established ones, that have developed there, like Pennsylvania Dutch in the US or Afrikaans in South Africa, and doesn't include recent languages. There are 300 languages spoken in London alone. There's probably atleast a few Malay speakers in Mexico but they aren't included. I think the quiz and ethnologue should be more clear about this.
+1
Level 58
May 15, 2023
Nice quiz!
+3
Level 67
Jul 6, 2023
For those who are confused about immigrant languages:

Ethnologue uses the term "established" when refering to immigrant languages.

For example, English ans Spanish are "established" in the United States as they have large communities speaking them that have been living in the country for years. This could not be said for a language like Xhosa or Basque which do have communities speaking them, but they are small and not rooted in the country, and have really just spread by chance, unlike the millions of Americans speaking English or Spanish through the generations.

Obviously the "established" title is still arbitrary and I couldn't tell you why Ethnologue chose the languages they did.

+1
Level 46
Aug 17, 2023
A quick bit of research shows that there are over 250 languages spoken in London alone, so it is very surprising that the UK is not on here..?
+1
Level 60
Jan 24, 2024
I think it only means native languages