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Multilingual Countries 2024

Language is a critical component of human culture, history, and identity. Some countries unite under the banner of a single national or dominant language that best represents their people while other countries proudly boast dozens of national languages representing dozens of unique cultures within their borders.

The absolute most multilingual country in the world in 2023 is Papua New Guinea, an island nationally with an incredible 840 known languages spoken throughout its population. This makes it the most linguistically diverse country in the world.

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is home to over 500 known languages. The national language and the local lingua de franca for commerce, education, and politics is English due to historical and present ties with Europe, but you'll find that many Nigerians are bilingual or multilingual as many also opt for native languages like Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo.

Also in Africa, there is a country that has the most official state languages, making it in its own way the most multilingual country in the world. This multilingual country is South Africa, which is often referred to as a "rainbow nation" due to its rich multiculturalism. Here, you will find 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. There are also 24 other languages commonly spoken in South Africa but not named as official state languages. As with Nigeria, English is the primary language used in political discourse, but here all of the eleven official languages are considered equal in terms of legal status.

In Europe, Switzerland is a country that offers a unique case of multilingualism for the region. Where most of Europe has one or maybe two official national languages, Switzerland has four: French, German, Italian, and Romansh. Yes, contrary to popular belief, English is not officially a national language in Switzerland despite much of its population having somewhere between conversational to fluent understanding of it.

The United States boasts a rich history of multiculturalism related to its founding as a nation of immigrants. While English is the dominant and national language of the country with nearly 78% of the population speaking English at home, there are an estimated 430 languages natively spoken throughout the country. That includes 177 languages that were indigenous to either the United States or its territories, relating to those populations existing before the era of European expansion into the Americas.

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Country
Official Languages
Additional Languages
Status
AfghanistanDari | PashtoUzbek | Turkmen | Balochi | Pashayi | NuristaniOfficially Bilingual
BelarusBelarusian | RussianEnglishOfficially Bilingual
BelgiumDutch | French | GermanOfficially Multilingual
BruneiMalay | EnglishEnglishOfficially Bilingual
BurundiKirundi, French, EnglishOfficially Bilingual
CameroonFrench | English55 Afro-Asiatic languages | 2 Nilo-Saharan languages | 173 Niger–Congo languagesOfficially Bilingual
CanadaFrench | EnglishCree | Dënësųłıné | Dene Yatıé/Zhatıé | Gwich’in | Inuinnaqtun | Inuktitut | Inuvialuktun | Sahtúgot’įné Yatı̨́ / Shíhgot’įne Yatı̨́ / K’ashógot’įne Goxedǝ́ | Tłįchǫ YatıìOfficially Bilingual
Central African RepublicFrench | SangoUbangian languages | Runga | Bongo–Bagirmi languages | Some Bantu languagesOfficially Bilingual
ChadArabic | FrenchChadic languages | Nilo-Saharan languages | Adamawa languagesOfficially Bilingual
ComorosComorian | French | ArabicOfficially Multilingual
CyprusGreek | TurkishEnglish | French | GermanOfficially Bilingual
Equatorial GuineaSpanish | French | PortugueseOfficially Multilingual
EritreaNo Offical LanguageTigrinya | Beja | Tigre | Kunama | Saho | Bilen | Nara | AfarOfficially Multilingual
EswatiniSwazi | EnglishUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
FijiiTaukei (Fijian) | English | Fiji HindiOfficially Multilingual
FinlandFinnish | SwedishEnglish | German | French Officially Bilingual
HaitiFrench | Haitian CreoleUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
Hong KongEnglish | ChineseOfficially Bilingual
IndiaHindi | English447 languagesOfficially Multilingual
IraqArabic | KurdishSuret (Assyrian) | Turkish/Turkmen | ArmenianUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
IrelandIrish | English Unofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
KazakhstanKazakh | RussianUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
KenyaSwahili | EnglishUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
KiribatiEnglish | GilberteseUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
KyrgyzstanKyrgyz | Russian Kyrgyz | Uzbek | Russian | Dungan | UyghurUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
LebanonArabicFrenchOfficially Multilingual
LesothoSesotho | EnglishUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
LuxembourgLuxembourgish | French | GermanOfficially Multilingual
MacauChinese | PortugueseCantonese | Macanese | PortugueseUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
MadagascarMalagasy | FrenchUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
MaltaMaltese | English Unofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
Marshall IslandsMarshallese | EnglishUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
MoroccoArabic | TamazightMoroccan Arabic | Hassaniya ArabicUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
NetherlandsWest Frisian | Papiamento | EnglishOfficially Multilingual
New ZealandEnglish | MāoriUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
NiueEnglish | NiueanUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
North MacedoniaMacedonian | AlbanianSerbo-Croatian | English | Russian | French | GermanOfficially Bilingual
NorwayNorwegian | SámiKven | Romani | Scandoromani Officially Multilingual
PakistanUrdu | EnglishMore than 77 languagesUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
PalauPalauan | EnglishJapanese | Sonsorolese | TobianUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
Papua New GuineaEnglish | Hiri Motu | PNG Sign Language851 languagesOfficially Multilingual
ParaguaySpanish | GuaraniUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
PeruSpanishQuechua | Aymara | Other Indigenous languagesOfficially Multilingual
PhilippinesFilipino | EnglishPhilippine Spanish | Philippine Hokkien | Philippine English | Taglish | BislishOfficially Bilingual
RwandaKinyarwanda | French | English | SwahiliOfficially Multilingual
SamoaSamoan | EnglishUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
SeychellesEnglish | French | Seychellois CreoleOfficially Multilingual
SingaporeEnglish | Malay | Mandarin | TamilOfficially Multilingual
SomaliaSomali | Arabic Unofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
Sri LankaSinhala | TamilEnglishUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
SudanArabic | EnglishSudanese ArabicUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
SwitzerlandGerman | French | Italian | RomanshOfficially Multilingual
TanzaniaSwahili | EnglishShambala | Sukuma | Nyamwezi | Chagga | HaBena | Gogo | Haya | Dholuo | Makonde | Nyaturu | Maasai | Jita | PareUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
Timor LestePortuguese | TetumEnglish | IndonesianUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
TongaTongan | EnglishUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
TuvaluTuvaluan | EnglishUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
UgandaEnglish | SwahiliUnofficially Bilingual or Multilingual
VanuatuBislama | English | FrenchOfficially Multilingual
ZimbabweChewa | Chibarwe | English | Kalanga | Koisan | Nambya | Ndau | Ndebele | Shangani | Shona | Sotho | Tonga | Tswana | Venda | Xhosa | Zimbabwean Sign LanguageOfficially Multilingual
showing: 59 rows

Which country is most multilingual?

The country of Papua New Guinea is known as the most multilingual country, and there are a total of 840 spoken languages in the country.

Frequently Asked Questions