List of National Languages by Country and Territory

National Languages in the World: Language is the most crucial tool of communication. It is not only useful in exchanging thoughts and ideas but also help us in building cultural ties, friendship, economic relationships, etc. Every country has its national language usually based on culture and ethnicity. While talking about national languages, you must know that it is not necessary for a country to have the same national and official languages.

In simple words, we can say that a national language is the most commonly accepted language in the country no matter, whether it has any constitutional base or not. The national languages of different countries are often seen with a sense of patriotism and nationalism. This post explains the details about the national languages of various countries in the world.

What is the difference between National and Official Language?

As discussed above, the national language of a country may or may not be the same as the official language. For example, the official language of Botswana is English but the national language is Setswana.  Go through the following points to understand the main differences between national and official languages.

  • A national language is a de-facto term while an official language is a de-jury term. It means national language is the most common medium of communication among the citizen which cannot be changed by the law. On the other hand, official language can be modified, altered, or changed by the law.
  • Another major difference is that a national language can get a status of official language. But, an official language cannot become a national language.

Most spoken National Languages in the World

A very large number of different languages are spoken around the world. Some of them are quite popular while others are spoken by a few ethnic groups only. There are a few languages that are widely used in multiple countries. Let’s take a look at the top 5 most spoken languages in the world.

  1. English: When it comes to popularity no one can match up “English”. It is truly a global language with a lot of native and non-native speakers. There are more than 1.12 billion people who can speak English.
  2. Mandarin Chinese: The national language of China is the Standard Chinese which is the Beijing dialect of Mandarin. This language stands second in our list of most popular national languages with more than 1.107 billion speakers around the globe.
  3. Hindi/ Urdu: Spoken widely in the Indian subcontinent, the Hindi/ Urdu language is also used by a very big population. As per an estimate, there are more than 697.4 million people who speak Hindi or Urdu language.
  4. Spanish: Spanish is the official language of around 21 countries. Plus, its various dialects are also quite famous. As far as the number of speakers is concerned, it is expected to be spoken by more than 512.9 million people.
  5. Arabic: The last language that makes it to our list of the top 5 most popular languages in the world is Arabic. With more than 422 million speakers, Arabic is very famous in middle-eastern and a few African countries.

National Languages of Different Countries

Now let’s move on and discuss the national languages of different countries around the world.

  1. Albania: Although the national language of Albania is Albanian, Greek communities use Greek is their national language. Similarly, the Aromanian community in the country uses Aromanian as the national language.
  2. Algeria: The national language of Algeria is Arabic and its official language is Berber. Apart from this, French is also used by a large number of citizens.
  3. Andorra: Catalan is the national language of Andorra.
  4. Armenia: Armenian is the most spoken and national language of Armenia. This language comes from the family of “Indo-European” languages.
  5. Australia: Australia does not have any official language but English serves as the de facto national language. As per the data of “Ethnologue”, 81% of Australians speak English at home. Due to a considerable migration, various other languages are also spoken widely including Chinese, Italian, Arabic, etc.
  6. Azerbaijan: The national language of Azerbaijan is “Azerbaijani”.
  7. Bangladesh: The official, as well as the national language of Bangladesh, is Bengali.
  8. Bosnia and Herzegovina: Serbo-Croatian is considered as the national language of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This language is defined under three names i.e. Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian.
  9. Bulgaria: The sole official and national language of Bulgaria is Bulgarian.
  10. Canada: Canadian English and Canadian French are the official as well as the national languages of Canada. Both of these languages have equal importance in the country depending upon the person and region.
  11. China: There is a large variety of the Chinese language that is used by different people in China. However, the national language of China is the Beijing dialect of mandarin. Guangzhou dialect of Cantonese is also very famous in the country of China.
  12. Croatia: The national language of Croatia is “Croatian”.
  13. Ethiopia: Ethiopia is a unique country where people from various nativities live together. Although there are a lot of different languages spoken in the country we can still say that English is the national language of Ethiopia.
  14. Finland: There are two different national languages of Finland i.e. Finnish and Swedish.
  15. France: According to Article 2 of the French constitution, the sole official language of France is French. The national language of France is also the same i.e. French.
  16. Germany: With more than 95% of people speaking different dialects of German, we can say it is the official language of Germany.
  17. Haiti: 90-95% people of Haiti speak Haitian Creole language. However, French is used as a language in media, education, and government.
  18. India: There is no national language in India. Actually, there are 22 official languages which are used by people in different regions. Hindi is spoken by a huge population but it doesn’t have the status of a national language.
  19. Indonesia: There are more than 700 living languages in Indonesia. But, the Indonesian is recognized as the national language of the country.
  20. Iran: Farsi or Persian is the national language of Iran.
  21. Ireland: The constitution of Ireland gives Irish the status of the national language of Ireland.
  22. Israel: Israel has adopted Hebrew as its national language after passing the Nation-state bill in 2018.
  23. Italy: Italian is the most used official as well as the national language of Italy.
  24. Kenya: Both English and Swahili are the official languages of Kenya. But, only “Swahili” is recognized as the national language of Kenya.
  25. Lebanon: The official national language of Lebanon is “Arabic”. Additionally, many English and French speakers are also present in Lebanon.
  26. Luxembourg: As the constitutional revision law passed on 24th February 1984 “Luxembourgish” is the national language of Luxembourg.
  27. Malta: Malta is an island nation with “Maltese” as its national language.
  28. Namibia: Interestingly, there are more than 20 national languages in Namibia. Some of the national languages of Namibia are German, Portuguese, Himba, Nama, Oshiwambo, etc.
  29. Nepal: More than 123 languages are spoken in Nepal including Tamang, Sherpa, Maithili, Limbu, etc. However, Nepali is the official language.
  30. New Zealand: The majority of the population of New Zealand is English Speaking. However, the native Polynesian people use the Maori language. Both “English” and “Maori” are the official language of New Zealand. Amusingly, the New Zealand sign language also has the status of an official language in the country.
  31. Nigeria: Apart from the English, there three other national languages of Nigeria with more than 20 million speakers of each. These languages are Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba.
  32. Pakistan: Article 251 (1) of the constitution of Pakistan recognizes “Urdu” as the national language of Pakistan.
  33. Philippines: More than 170 languages of the Philippine subgroup of the Austronesian language family are spoken in the Philippines. In 1987, the “Filipino” language got recognition as the national language of Philippines.
  34. Poland: Polish is the official language of Poland according to Article 27 of its constitution.
  35. Romania: The official, as well as the national language of Romania, is “Romanian”.
  36. Russia: “Russian” is the official language of Russia. However, many other languages are considered official in various regions of the country.
  37. Serbia: “Serbian” which is a variety of “Serbo-Croatian” is the national language of Serbia.
  38. Singapore: The four official languages of Singapore are English (Singapore English), Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. Out of all these four languages, only “Malay” is designated as the national language of Singapore.
  39. Slovenia: Slovene has got the recognition as the national language of Slovenia.
  40. South Africa: 11 official languages of South Africa are Sesotho, siSwati, Setswana, Xitsonga, Thsivenda, isiXhosa, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, Sepedi, and isiZulu.
  41. Spain: The national constitutional language of Spain is Spanish or Castilian. However, some co-official languages are also prominently used in some territories for example – Galician language in Galicia.
  42. Switzerland: The majority of the population of this country is German-speaking. Still, there are four national languages in Switzerland namely German, French, Italian and Romansh.
  43. Taiwan: Legally, the national languages of Taiwan are Formosan languages, Hakka, Mandarin, and Taiwanese Hokkien.
  44. Tunisia: The official language of Tunisia is “Arabic” and it also plays the role of national language in the country. People also use “French” extensively in normal day to day life.
  45. Turkey: The Turkish constitution recognizes “Turkish” as the national language of Turkey.
  46. United Kingdom: Around 95% of the people in the UK speak English. So, we can say that it is the official and national language of the country.
  47. Uganda: English in the national language of Uganda
  48. Ukraine: Although Russian is also spoken by a lot of people, the only official language of Ukraine is Ukrainian.

49: United States: There is no official or national language of the US. But, in an informal sense, we can say American English is the national language of the USA.

50: Vietnam: Decree no. 5 of the 2013 constitution of Vietnam gives the national language status to the “Vietnamese” language.

Official, National and Popular languages of Asian Countries

The national, official and popular languages of Asian countries are given below.

Countries Official Language National Language Other Popular languages
Afghanistan Pashto, Dari Uzbek, Turkmen, Balochi, etc.
Bangladesh Bangla Bangla Assamese, Manipuri, Chakma, etc.
India Hindi, English and 20 other languages Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, Marathi, etc.
Jordan Standard Arabic English
North Korea Munhwaŏ Korean Korean
Kuwait Arabic Kuwaiti Arabic
Maldives Maldivian English
Mongolia Mongolian  Turkic, Russian
Cambodia Khmer French
Bahrain Standard Malay, English Cantonese, Tamil, English

Official, National and Popular languages in Africa

Africa is a continent with the most number of nations. The prominent languages in the continent are as follows.

Countries Official Language National Language Other popular languages
Senegal French Balanta-Ganja, Hassaniya Arabic, Jola-Fonyi and other native languages including Wolof Wolof
Somalia Somali, Arabic English and Italian
South Sudan English Bari, Dinka, Luo, Murle, Nuer, Zande
Sudan Standard Arabic, English  Beja, Tigre, Fur, Nubian
Swaziland Swazi, English Swazi Zulu, Tsonga
Zimbabwe Chewa, Chibarwe, English and 14 other languages IsiNdebele, Shona
Zambia English Bemba,  Lozi, Tonga.
Togo Ewé, Kabiyé Mina, Fula
Rwanda French, English, Swahili Kinyarwanda
Mozambique Portuguese Swahili, Makhuwa, Sena, Nadu, Tsonga

National, Official and Popular Languages in Europe

A lot of different languages are spoken in Europe. Take a look at the table below to find official, national, and popular languages in a few European countries.

Countries Official Language National Language Other Popular languages
Belarus Belarusian Russian
Belgium Dutch, French, German
Czech Republic Czech Slovak, German, Polish, Romany
Georgia Georgian Russian,  Armenian,  Azerbaijani
Greece Greek Cretan, Cappadocian, Pontic, Maniot, Turkish, Romani, English
Moldova Moldovan Moldovan Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Gagauz, Ukranian
Monaco French Monégasque Italian, English, Occitan
Slovenia Slovene Slovene Hungarian, Italian
San Marino Italian, Sammarinese Italian dialects
Sweden Swedish Various Swedish dialects

National, Official and Popular Languages in South America

The national, official and popular languages in different South American countries are as follows.

Countries Official Language National Language Other Popular languages
Argentina Spanish Levantine Arabic, Italian, German,
Chile Spanish Spanish Mapudungun, Quechua, Rapa Nui
Colombia Spanish Different native languages
Paraguay Spanish, Guarani Chamacoco, Ayoreo, Guana
Peru Spanish  Quechua, Aymara
Uruguay Spanish Uruguayan Spanish, English
Panama Spanish English, Spanish, French, Arabic

Various popular, national, and official languages in North America

The various languages spoken in some prominent countries in North America are given below.

Countries Official Language National Language Other Popular languages
USA None English Spanish, Chinese, French
Mexico None Spanish Different native language
Cuba Spanish Lucumí, Haitian Creole
Dominican Republic Spanish French and English
Jamaica Jamaican Standard English Jamaican Patois (Patwa)
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