Ranked: The Countries with the Most Linguistic Diversity
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Ranked: The Countries with the Most Linguistic Diversity

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Ranked The Countries with the Most Linguistic Diversity Datastream

The Briefing

  • Papua New Guinea is the most linguistically diverse country in the world, with approximately 840 different languages spoken across the islands
  • In second place, Indonesia has around 711 different languages. Only 20% of the population speaks the national language of Bahasa Indonesian at home

Ranked: The Most Diverse Countries By Language

Thousands of languages are spoken worldwide, but only a fraction are used widely. In fact, the speakers of 23 languages account for more than half of the total global population.

Despite this, there are still pockets around the globe that are rich in linguistic diversity. Here’s a look at the top 10 countries where the most languages are spoken.

These numbers include established and immigrant dialects.

Top 10 Countries with the Most Languages

Despite a population of just 8.8 million, Papua New Guinea comes in first with a total of 840 languages spoken across the country. To put things into perspective, that’s almost 12% of the world’s languages spoken in an area that’s roughly the size of California.

RankCountryTotal LanguagesPopulation 2020 (M)
1🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea8408.8
2🇮🇩 Indonesia711270.6
3🇳🇬 Nigeria517201.0
4🇮🇳 India4561,366.0
5🇺🇸 United States328328.2
6🇦🇺 Australia31225.4
7🇨🇳 China3091,398.0
8🇲🇽 Mexico292127.6
9🇨🇲 Cameroon27425.9
10🇧🇷 Brazil221211.0

A likely reason for the country’s linguistic diversity is its isolation from modern life. Over 80% of Papua New Guinea’s population lives in rural areas and has minimal contact with external influences or other tribes.

Second on the list is Indonesia, with 711 different languages used throughout the country. Like Papua New Guinea, a major factor that could explain its language diversity is its geography—Indonesia is made up of around 17,500 islands (although more than 7,000 of them are uninhabited).

The Future of Language Diversity

While it’s clear that a multitude of languages still exist, around 40% of the world’s languages are at risk of dying out. Even in parts of the world where immense linguistic diversity remains, languages are disappearing with each subsequent generation.

In efforts to combat this, organizations like the United Nations are actively trying to promote and protect these endangered languages.

>>Like this? Check out our article on the Top 10 Most Spoken Languages

Where does this data come from?


Source: Ethnologue
Notes: This database covers a majority of the world’s population and details approximately 7,111 living languages

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Datastream

Which Countries Believe WWIII is Coming?

In every single country surveyed, the majority of respondents believed a global conflict would break out between superpowers in coming years

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which countries believe WWIII is coming?

The Briefing

  • In every single country surveyed, the majority of respondents believed a world war would break out in coming years
  • Australia was the most pessimistic, and Japan was the most optimistic

Which Countries Believe WWIII is Coming?

After a pandemic, rampant inflation, a faltering global economy, and geopolitical flare-ups, it’s no surprise that people have a souring outlook on the future.

Even so, the results of this recent survey by Ipsos are eyebrow raising. In all 33 countries where polling took place, the majority of respondents said they believe a world war on the scale of WWI and WWII would break out between global superpowers in coming years.

Here’s a look at how various countries felt about the possibility of an impending global conflict:

Country% somewhat/strongly agreeChange from 2021 (p.p.)
🇦🇺 Australia81%+8
🇮🇪 Ireland80%n/a
🇲🇽 Mexico80%+8
🇵🇪 Peru80%+3
🇮🇳 India79%+3
🇨🇱 Chile78%+3
🇨🇴 Colombia78%+1
🇲🇾 Malaysia78%+4
🇹🇭 Thailand78%n/a
🇧🇪 Belgium77%+18
🇷🇴 Romania77%n/a
🇨🇦 Canada76%+13
🇺🇸 United States76%+6
🇫🇷 France75%+16
🇬🇧 Great Britain75%+19
🇳🇱 Netherlands75%+15
🇿🇦 South Africa75%+3
🇪🇸 Spain75%+5
🇦🇪 UAE75%n/a
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia74%+12
Global Country Average73%+10
🇧🇷 Brazil72%+10
🇦🇷 Argentina71%+5
🇹🇷 Turkey71%+8
🇵🇱 Poland70%+4
🇺🇦 Ukraine70%n/a
🇰🇷 South Korea69%+17
🇭🇺 Hungary67%+10
🇨🇳 China64%+6
🇮🇹 Italy64%+19
🇩🇪 Germany63%+17
🇮🇩 Indonesia63%n/a
🇸🇪 Sweden60%+11
🇯🇵 Japan51%+16

Japan was the least sure of an impending global conflict—an opinion that is almost certainly shaped by the country’s historical experience in WWII.

Australia was the most certain of an impending global conflict. The country has a unique relationship with Asian and Western countries, so geopolitical tensions between superpowers may resonate more in the Land Down Under.

The Power of Fear

Given the negative slant of stories covered by mass media and the types of stories that are most widely shared on social media platforms, it’s easy to understand how people have developed such a gloomy view of the future. But “bad vibes” aside, how could this perception translate into real world action?

For one, public opinion helps shape political priorities. A narrative of impending conflict could have an impact on geopolitical policy and relationships.

Another possibility is an increase in military spending across the board. 64% of people across 30 countries somewhat or strongly agree that their home government should beef up military spending “given the dangers in the world.” Aside from Ukraine, India (84%) and Poland (81%) ranked the highest in support of increasing military spending.

One other noteworthy finding is that 85% of people in the countries surveyed believe that the world needs new international agreements and institutions to deal with the challenges faced by the world today, and that world powers are unlikely to respect agreements made through international bodies. These findings are significant since war becomes more likely as cooperation between countries breaks down.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Ipsos, for Halifax International Security Forum

Data note: These are the results of a 33-market survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 32,507 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, 20-74 in Thailand, 21-74 in Indonesia, and 16-74 in the remaining markets between Friday, September 23 and Friday, October 7, 2022.

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Datastream

What Does 30 Years of Global Deforestation Look Like?

Deforestation over the last 30 years has led to a 177.5 million hectare reduction in world’s forests. See why these trends need to reverse swiftly in order to effectively manage climate change. (Sponsored Content)

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The Briefing

  • 177.5 million hectares of land have been lost to deforestation since the 1990s
  • Deforestation accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions

30 Years of Deforestation

Estimates say deforestation practices need to be thwarted by 75% by 2030, in order to effectively manage rising global average temperatures. But when looking at deforestation data over the last 30 years, it’s clear we’ve gone in the opposite direction.

This sponsored graphic from The LEAF Coalition looks at the total land lost to deforestation since the 1990s and compares it to the total land in the U.S. as a point of reference.

The Rise and Fall of Forests

Approximately 4% of the world’s forests have been lost since the 1990s. This is equivalent to 177.5 million hectares or 685,000 square miles, and greater than the total land area of 179 countries in the world. In addition, this covers one-fifth of the land in America. Here’s how the average global annual net change in forest area looks on a decade-by-decade basis.

Period

Global Annual Forest Area Net Change (Hectares)

2010-2020

-4.7M ha

2000-2010

-5.2M ha

1990-2000

-7.8M ha

A silver lining here is that in the most recent decade that’s passed we’ve seen a reduction in the amount of deforestation. Compared to the late 1990s, the decade between 2010 and 2020 has seen yearly deforestation reduce by 3.1 million hectares from 7.8 million to 4.7 million.

However, there’s still plenty of work that needs to be done and the devastating impact deforestation has on the environment cannot be understated.

Not Out of the Woods Yet

By some estimates, 30% of the globe’s carbon emissions are absorbed by forests each year. In order to keep our global average temperatures at 1.5°C, action needs to ramp up to diminish deforestation. One solution is to open up funding and participation to the private sector and bridge their efforts with that of the public sector.

Swift action is required in order to slow deforestation and decelerate rising average temperatures. See how The LEAF Coalition, a public-private initiative is accelerating climate action by providing results-based finance to countries committed to protecting tropical forests.

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