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The State of the World’s 7,168 Living Languages

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This bar graphic shows the status of the world's living languages.

The State of the World’s 7,168 Living Languages

What are the roots of a living language, and how many are at risk of extinction?

This graphic, from Stephen Jones, CEO of Derivation.co, shows the state of living languages around the world.

Mapping Out Living Languages

Across the 7,168 living languages today, 43% are at risk of being endangered.

In fact, a language dies off every 40 days. The vast majority of endangered languages are found in Indigenous communities, which risk the loss of culture and knowledge that they contain. At current rates, 90% of the world’s languages could disappear over the next 100 years.

According to data from Ethnologue, languages are classified across 12 states of vitality and three broader categories:

  • Endangered: Children do not learn and use the language, it is no longer the norm.
  • Stable: A language is used in the home and community, all children learn the language, but it is not formally used in institutions.
  • Institutional: A language is used beyond the community across institutions.
Status ScaleNumber of
Languages
Percent of
Languages
Number of SpeakersState
Dormant3304.6%0Endangered
Nearly Extinct3134.4%92,217Endangered
Moribund3565.0%1,126,017Endangered
Shifting4386.1%10,867,828Endangered
Threatened1,64122.9%75,983,169Endangered
Vigorous1,96327.4%308,820,743Stable
Written1,63722.8%940,043,954Stable
Educational1692.4%284,342,572Institutional
Trade1722.4%820,230,460Institutional
Regional440.6%683,448,282Institutional
National991.4%2,232,001,096Institutional
International60.1%2,031,705,440Institutional

Today, over 88 million people speak endangered languages.

The region of Oceania has the largest density of endangered languages, with 733 at risk. With a population of 8.8 million, Papua New Guinea is home to the most languages in the world. Often, small linguistic communities will have only a couple hundred people speaking the language.

Africa has 428 that are endangered, many which are clustered around the equator. Displacement, drought, and conflict are some of the key reasons that languages risk being endangered.

In North and Central America, 222 languages are at risk of extinction. In fact, 98% of Indigenous languages in the U.S. are endangered, one of the highest rates in the world.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are 490 institutional languages with 6.1 billion speakers worldwide.

Revitalizing Languages

Thanks to key initiatives, languages can be preserved.

For instance, during the 1970s, the Māori language was spoken by just 5% of Māori schoolchildren. Fast forward to today, and 25% speak the language, driven by efforts from the Māori, leading the government to protect it by law.

In Hawaii, just 2,000 people spoke the native language in the 1970s. After the government ensured it was taught in schools, the number of speakers jumped to 18,700 in 2023.

Advancements in AI are also providing tools to preserve languages. Google and Microsoft, for instance, are developing AI tools that can translate languages at impressive speeds, allowing for dying languages to become more accessible so they are not erased.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Demographics

Charted: Unauthorized Immigrants in the U.S., by Country of Origin

The U.S. has over 11 million unauthorized immigrants.

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This Voronoi graphic visualizes the country of origin for the unauthorized immigrant population in the U.S.

Visualizing Unauthorized Immigrants in the U.S.

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.

More than any other nation, the U.S. is home to over 46 million immigrants. Of these, over 11 million are unauthorized immigrants.

This graphic visualizes the countries of origin for the unauthorized immigrant population in the U.S., based on 2021 estimates from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), published in September 2023. Because these estimates are based on 2021 figures, they don’t capture the record number of border encounters witnessed in 2022 and 2023.

Mexico’s Overall Share is Declining

According to the MPI, Mexico accounted for 7.7 million unauthorized immigrants in 2008. This suggests a 32% decline to the latest estimate of 5.2 million.

CountryRegionUnauthorized Immigrants
🇲🇽 MexicoNorth America5,203,000
🇬🇹 GuatemalaNorth America780,000
🇸🇻 El SalvadorNorth America751,000
🇭🇳 HondurasNorth America564,000
🇮🇳 IndiaAsia400,000
🇵🇭 PhilippinesAsia309,000
🇻🇪 VenezuelaSouth America251,000
🇨🇳 ChinaAsia241,000
🇨🇴 ColombiaSouth America201,000
🇧🇷 BrazilSouth America195,000
🌍 Rest of World2,322,000
Total11,217,000

Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras follow Mexico. According to the Migration Policy Institute, immigration from these three countries has been the most significant contributor to the growth of the Central American-born population in the U.S. since 1980. Roughly 86% of Central Americans in the United States in 2021 were born in one of these three countries.

India comes in fifth. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an unprecedented number of undocumented Indian immigrants have been crossing U.S. borders on foot in recent years.

Among the factors for the increase in Indian immigration to the U.S. are the overall growth in global migration since the pandemic, oppression of minority communities in India, and extreme visa backlogs.

Learn more about unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. by our breakdown by U.S. state found here.

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