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This is the Language Each Country Wants to Learn the Most

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The Languages People Want to Learn the Most Worldwide

This is the Language Each Country Wants to Learn the Most

When it came to choosing a new hobby during COVID-19 lockdowns, learning a new language was a popular choice—in March 2020, the language app Duolingo saw a 300% boost in new users.

But which languages were the most popular to learn in each country? This graphic by Wordtips maps the most popular language learning choices around the globe.

To find out which countries wanted to learn which languages, Wordtips used Google’s Keyword Planner, and tallied the number of searches for ‘learn x language’ (translated into different languages) in every country from May 2020 to May 2021.

Most Desired Languages to Learn in North America

Interestingly, Japanese is the most popular language that Americans and Canadians want to learn.

While this may sound surprising, North Americans have consumed and adored Japanese pop culture since the early 1990s. And recently, Westerners’ interest in anime has grown even more prominent, with the demand for anime programs in the U.S., for Q1 of 2021, up 33% compared to a year prior.

Languages North Americans Want to Learn the Most

Another country’s top pick that may come as a surprise is Belize, where the most popular language to learn is Chinese.

According to the 2000 Census, almost 1% of the country’s population identifies as Chinese. Chinese immigration to Belize began in the mid-1800s, when Chinese immigrants were brought into the country (then known as British Honduras) as laborers.

More recently, a wave of Taiwanese migrants have immigrated and set up businesses in Belize, as part of Taiwan’s international development efforts.

Meanwhile in South America, both Peru and Chile showed a strong desire to learn Korean. The popularity of K-Pop in South America demonstrates how media and art can help spread languages far beyond their original borders, and sometimes in unexpected places.

Most Desired Languages to Learn in Europe

English is the most popular language across Europe, as it’s the top searched language in 34 European countries.

Languages Europeans Want to Learn the Most

But a few countries differ from the norm—for instance, German is the most popular language to learn in Denmark. In a small Southern region of Denmark, German is the official minority language. And according to World Atlas, up to 20,000 ethnic Germans live in the area, with about 8,000 speaking standard German as their native tongue.

In the UK, Spanish takes the top spot. But more interestingly, Spanish is also Spain’s most popular language to learn, which seems counterintuitive. However, it could be because of Spain’s high concentration of British expats. According to BBC News, there are more than 300,000 British expats currently living in Spain.

Top Languages Spoken Worldwide

While English is the most popular language to learn in various countries, it’s also the most spoken language worldwide, with approximately 1.1 billion total speakers—that’s roughly 15% of the global population.

RankLanguageTotal Speakers
1English1,132 million
2Mandarin Chinese1,117 million
3Hindi615 million
4Spanish534 million
5French280 million
6Standard Arabic274 million
7Bengali265 million
8Russian258 million
9Portuguese234 million
10Indonesian199 million

And with more people interested in learning English, it looks like it could remain the world’s lingua franca (a common language among people who don’t speak the same native language) for years to come.

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Politics

Charted: The Number of Democracies Globally

How many democracies does the world have? This visual shows the change since 1945 and the top nations becoming more (and less) democratic.

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Charted: The Number of Democracies Globally

The end of World War II in 1945 was a turning point for democracies around the world.

Before this critical turning point in geopolitics, democracies made up only a small number of the world’s countries, both legally and in practice. However, over the course of the next six decades, the number of democratic nations would more than quadruple.

Interestingly, studies have found that this trend has recently reversed as of the 2010s, with democracies and non-democracies now in a deadlock.

In this visualization, Staffan Landin uses data from V-DEM’s Electoral Democratic Index (EDI) to highlight the changing face of global politics over the past two decades and the nations that contributed the most to this change.

The Methodology

V-DEM’s EDI attempts to measure democratic development in a comprehensive way, through the contributions of 3,700 experts from countries around the world.

Instead of relying on each nation’s legally recognized system of government, the EDI analyzes the level of electoral democracy in countries on a range of indicators, including:

  • Free and fair elections
  • Rule of law
  • Alternative sources of information and association
  • Freedom of expression

Countries are assigned a score on a scale from 0 to 1, with higher scores indicating a higher level of democracy. Each is also categorized into four types of functional government, from liberal and electoral democracies to electoral and closed autocracies.

Which Countries Have Declined the Most?

The EDI found that numerous countries around the world saw declines in democracy over the past two decades. Here are the 10 countries that saw the steepest decline in EDI score since 2010:

CountryDemocracy Index (2010)Democracy Index (2022)Points Lost
🇭🇺 Hungary0.800.46-34
🇵🇱 Poland0.890.59-30
🇷🇸 Serbia0.610.34-27
🇹🇷 Türkiye0.550.28-27
🇮🇳 India0.710.44-27
🇲🇱 Mali0.510.25-26
🇹🇭 Thailand0.440.20-24
🇦🇫 Afghanistan0.380.16-22
🇧🇷 Brazil0.880.66-22
🇧🇯 Benin0.640.42-22

Central and Eastern Europe was home to three of the countries seeing the largest declines in democracy. Hungary, Poland, and Serbia lead the table, with Hungary and Serbia in particular dropping below scores of 0.5.

Some of the world’s largest countries by population also decreased significantly, including India and Brazil. Across most of the top 10, the “freedom of expression” indicator was hit particularly hard, with notable increases in media censorship to be found in Afghanistan and Brazil.

Countries Becoming More Democratic

Here are the 10 countries that saw the largest increase in EDI score since 2010:

CountryDemocracy Index (2010)Democracy Index (2022)Points Gained
🇦🇲 Armenia0.340.74+40
🇫🇯 Fiji0.140.40+26
🇬🇲 The Gambia0.250.50+25
🇸🇨 Seychelles0.450.67+22
🇲🇬 Madagascar0.280.48+20
🇹🇳 Tunisia0.400.56+16
🇱🇰 Sri Lanka0.420.57+15
🇬🇼 Guinea-Bissau0.410.56+15
🇲🇩 Moldova0.590.74+15
🇳🇵 Nepal0.460.59+13

Armenia, Fiji, and Seychelles saw significant improvement in the autonomy of their electoral management bodies in the last 10 years. Partially as a result, both Armenia and Seychelles have seen their scores rise above 0.5.

The Gambia also saw great improvement across many election indicators, including the quality of voter registries, vote buying, and election violence. It was one of five African countries to make the top 10 most improved democracies.

With the total number of democracies and non-democracies almost tied over the past four years, it is hard to predict the political atmosphere in the future.

Want to know more about democracy in today’s world? Check out our global breakdown of each country’s democratic score in Mapped: The State of Global Democracy in 2022.
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