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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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Charting the Rise of Cross-Border Money Transfers (2015-2023)

With over 280 million immigrants transferring billions of dollars annually, the remittance industry has become more valuable than ever.

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The Briefing

  • 79% of remittance payments in 2022 were made to low and middle-income countries.
  • Borderless, low-cost money transfer services like those provided by Wise can help immigrants support their families.

The Rise of Cross-Border Money Transfers

The remittance industry has experienced consistent growth recently, solidifying its position as a key component of the global financial landscape. Defined as the transfer of money from one country to another, usually to support a dependent, remittances play a pivotal role in providing food, healthcare, and education.

In this graphic, sponsored by Scottish Mortgage, we delve into the growth of the remittance industry, and the key factors propelling its success.

Powered by Immigration

With over 280 million immigrants worldwide, the remittance industry has an important place in our global society.

By exporting billions of dollars annually back to their starting nations, immigrants can greatly improve the livelihoods of their families and communities.

This is particularly true for low and middle-income countries, who in 2022 received, on average, 79% of remittance payments, according to Knomad, an initiative of the World Bank.

YearLow/Middle Income (US$ Billion)World Total (US$ Billion)
2015$447B$602B
2016$440B$596B
2017$477B$638B
2018$524B$694B
2019$546B$722B
2020$542B$711B
2021$597B$781B
2022$626B$794B
2023$639B$815B

India is one of the global leaders in receiving remittance payments. In 2022 alone, over $100 billion in remittances were sent to India, supporting many families. 

Enter Wise

As the global remittance industry continues to grow, it is important to acknowledge the role played by innovative money transfer operators like Wise.

With an inclusive, user-centric platform and competitive exchange rates, Wise makes it easy and cost-effective for millions of individuals to send money home, worldwide.

Connection Without Borders

But Wise doesn’t just offer remittance solutions, the company offers a host of account services and a payment infrastructure that has helped over 6.1 million active customers move over $30 billion in the first quarter of 2023 alone.

Want to invest in transformative companies like Wise?

Discover Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, a portfolio of some of the world’s most exciting growth companies.

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