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All World Languages in One Visualization

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This infographic was originally published in scmp.com


Infographic: A World of Languages

All World Languages, By Native Speakers

View a high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.

Languages provide a window into culture and history. They’re also a unique way to map the world – not through landmasses or geopolitical borders, but through mother tongues.

The Tower of Babel

Today’s infographic from Alberto Lucas Lopez condenses the 7,102 known living languages today into a stunning visualization, with individual colors representing each world region.

Only 23 languages are spoken by at least 50 million native speakers. What’s more, over half the planet speaks at least one of these 23 languages.

Chinese dominates as a macrolanguage, but it’s important to note that it consists of numerous languages. Mandarin, Yue (including Cantonese), Min, Wu, and Hakka cover over 200 individual dialects, which vary further by geographic location.

CountryNative Chinese speakers (millions)
🇨🇳 China1,152.0
🇹🇼 Taiwan21.8
🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR6.5
🇲🇾 Malaysia5.1
🇸🇬 Singapore1.8
🇹🇭 Thailand1.2
🇻🇳 Vietnam0.9
🇵🇭 Philippines0.7
🇲🇲 Myanmar0.5
🇲🇴 Macau SAR0.5
Other6.0
Total1,197 million

Chinese is one of the most challenging languages for English speakers to pick up, in part due its completely unfamiliar scripts. You’d have to know at least 3,000 characters to be able to read a newspaper, a far cry from memorizing the A-Z alphabet.

Spanglish Takes Over

After Chinese, the languages of Spanish and English sit in second and third place in terms of global popularity. The rapid proliferation of these languages can be traced back to the history of Spanish conquistadors in the Americas, and British colonies around the world.

Animation: Map of Colonization (1492 – 2008):
Colonization Map

Today, Spanish has 399 million native speakers, but these are mostly concentrated in Latin America. English has 335 million native speakers under its belt, with a widespread reach all over the globe.

Two Worlds, One Family

While the visualization makes all the world languages seem disparate, this linguistic family tree shows how they grew from a common root. It also explains how languages can evolve and branch out over time.

Language Tree

Created by Minna Sundberg. Full version.

This linguistic tree also includes many languages that are not on the large visualization of 23 mother tongues. Some of them might be considered endangered or at risk today, such as Catalan or Welsh. However, with globalization, a few interesting linguistic trends are arising.

1. Language revival
Certain enclaves of marginalized languages are being preserved out of pride for the traditional and cultural histories attached.

While Catalan was once banned, its rebirth is a key marker of identity in Barcelona. More than 150 universities teach Catalan worldwide. In the case of Welsh, a mammoth university project plans to make sure it does not die out. Researchers are compiling ten million Welsh words to preserve the past, present, and future of the language.

2. Language forecast
At this point in time, English is the lingua franca – adopted as a common language among speakers with different mother tongues. However, this status might soon be fuzzier as demographic trends continue.

The rise of China is an obvious one to consider. As China continues to increase its economic might and influence, its languages will proliferate as well.

At the same time, 26 African countries are projected to double their current size, many of which speak French as a first language. One study by investment bank Natixis suggests that Africa’s growth may well bring French to the forefront – making it the most-spoken language by 2050.

Could French provide a certain je ne sais quoi that no other world language can quite replace?

This post was first published in 2018. We have since updated it, adding in new content for 2021.

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Maps

Mapped: North America Population Patterns by Density

Nearly half a billion people live on the third-largest continent. We take a closer look in this population map of North America.

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A map of North America along with its population patterns.

Mapped: North America Population Patterns by Density

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

From the icy expanses of the Arctic to the warm Caribbean sea, the North American continent covers nearly 25 million square kilometers, or about 15% of the Earth’s land area. Populating this vast region are nearly half a billion people, spread out from coast to valley, along the edges of arid scrublands and rainforests.

We visualize a map of North America population patterns, including Central America and the Caribbean, with spikes illustrating densely populated areas.

Data for this map is sourced from Statistics Canada, the World Bank, and WorldPop—a research group based out of the University of Southampton that tracks population growth and movement across the globe.

Ranked: Countries and Territories by Population Density

Deep in the Atlantic, seen as a small dot near Haiti on the map, the island state of Bermuda is the most densely populated jurisdiction on the continent. Measuring just 53 km² in area, and home to 65,000 people, results in an average population density of 1,266 people per km².

Also in the Caribbean, Barbados ranks second with an average population density 647 people/km², followed by Puerto Rico, ranked third-highest at 430 people/km², despite its much larger area—9,104 km².

RankCountry/TerritoryAverage Population
Density (per km²)
Area (km²)
1🇧🇲 Bermuda1,22653
2🇧🇧 Barbados647431
3🇵🇷 Puerto Rico4309,104
4🇲🇶 Martinique3931,100
5🇦🇼 Aruba370193
6🇸🇻 El Salvador31821,040
7🇻🇮 Virgin Islands308352
8🇻🇨 Saint Vincent &
the Grenadines
302389
9🇭🇹 Haiti29227,750
10🇱🇨 Saint Lucia269616
11🇬🇵 Guadeloupe2521,780
12🇯🇲 Jamaica24810,991
13🇧🇶 Netherlands Antilles229960
14🇹🇹 Trinidad & Tobago2125,128
15🇩🇴 Dominican Republic18348,730
16🇰🇾 Cayman Islands168262
17🇦🇬 Antigua & Barbuda155443
18🇰🇳 Saint Kitts & Nevis149261
19🇻🇬 British Virgin Islands147153
20🇬🇹 Guatemala134108,890
21🇦🇮 Anguilla129102
22🇨🇺 Cuba102110,860
23🇩🇲 Dominica91754
24🇲🇸 Montserrat91102
25🇨🇷 Costa Rica7851,100
26🇭🇳 Honduras62112,090
27🇲🇽 Mexico531,972,550
28🇹🇨 Turks &
Caicos Islands
47430
29🇳🇮 Nicaragua42129,494
30🇵🇦 Panama3878,200
31🇺🇸 U.S.319,629,091
32🇵🇲 Saint-Pierre
& Miquelon
28242
33🇧🇸 The Bahamas2113,940
34🇧🇿 Belize1222,966
35🇨🇦 Canada39,984,670
36🇬🇱 Greenland02,166,086
37🇺🇸 Navassa Island05.2

Source: WorldAtlas.

Naturally the largest countries on the continent—Canada, the U.S., and Mexico—have some of the lowest average population densities compared to other nations in the region.

However, thanks to their size, their overall population distribution is more apparent on a map of this scale. In Canada, the Greater Toronto Area is home to one-fifth the country’s entire population. In stark contrast, the rest of the country seems almost empty—averaging just 3 people/km².

Major U.S. cities—New York, Chicago, and San Francisco—also stand out, though the more regular dispersion of Americans, particularly in the Northeast, South, and Midwest can also be seen.

Interestingly, Monterrey in Mexico jumps out on the map; the city is built at the foot of Cerro de la Silla, and several districts are densely populated as a result.

Ranked: Continents by Population Density

How does North America compare to the other continents by population density?

Unsurprisingly, thanks to its large land area, as well as comparatively smaller population, North America is one of the least densely populated continents in the world, beaten only by Oceania, which averages 5 people/km², and Antarctica.

RankContinentAverage Population
Density (per/km²)
1Asia149
2Africa49
3Europe32
4South America25
5North America25
6Oceania5
7Antarctica0

Source: World Population Review

In comparison, Asia, while being the largest continent, is also home to 60% of the global population, and averages 149 people/km².

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