Resource

MAP

Resource

MAP

Language Diversity Index

Language Diversity Index

Use MapMaker Interactive to explore linguistic diversity across the globe today.

Grades

9 - 12

Subjects

Anthropology, Geography, Human Geography

















NGS Resource Carousel Loading Logo
Loading ...

According to Ethnologue.com, there are nearly 7,000 languages spoken across the world today. Only a fraction of these languages (359) are truly global, spoken by millions of people. These include Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, and Hindi. The remaining 6,550 languages have a much more limited scope, and many are in danger of being lost entirely. To put the dichotomy in perspective, 94 percent of the world's population speaks 6 percent of its languages, while six percent of the world's population speaks 94 percent of its languages.

The Linguistic Diversity Index measures the diversity of languages spoken in a country. The scale ranges from 0 to 1. An index of 0 represents no linguistic diversity, meaning that everyone speaks the same language. An index of 1 represents total diversity, meaning that no two people speak the same language. No country has an index value of exactly 0 or 1.

The Linguistic Diversity Index can provide insight into the multicultural nature of countries. Some have high linguistic diversity because of their geographic position along trade routes. This is seen in the relatively high linguistic diversity in Kazakhstan, which was part of the Silk Road. Other countries have high linguistic diversity due to the presence of multiple, distinct ethnic groups, as seen in Bolivia, India, and Chad. Nations with low levels of linguistic diversity, such as Japan and Norway, are often culturally homogeneous.

The data source for this map is ethnologue.com, where the online version of the 16th edition of Ethnologue: Languages of the World is found.

Fast Fact

Endangered Languages

Fast Fact

Indo-European Languages

Fast Fact

Linguistic Homogeneity

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Writer
Rhonda Lucas Donald
Editor
Sean P. O'Connor, BioBlitz Education Consultant
Producer
Ryan Schleeter
other
Last Updated

January 31, 2023

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact ngimagecollection@natgeo.com for more information and to obtain a license. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. She or he will best know the preferred format. When you reach out to him or her, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource.

Media

If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.

Text

Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.

Interactives

Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.

Related Resources