Best Language Maps to Explore Multilingualism

For those passionate for maps and languages, this websites collection are a dive in the beauty of multilingualism
Thalita Lima
10 min
Table of Contents

Here's an exercise: have you ever stopped to think about how many languages coexist in the region where you live? And in which countries around the world can you communicate with the languages you know?

For language enthusiasts, exploring these distributions through maps is a delight. Understanding the languages of a region means diving into its culture and history. What opportunities brought natives from other places to your city? Or what conflicts made them migrate, spreading their heritage languages to other corners of the world?

Inspired by these reasons, we've selected some maps to fuel your passion for language, diversity, and culture.

The Most Multilingual Countries in the World

According to Ethnologue, the top 5 countries with the most languages (2023) are, in order: Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Nigeria, India, and the United States.

Papua New Guinea boasts over 800 languages, while Indonesia has over 700. More than twice the number of languages spoken across Europe can be found in Papua New Guinea alone. This Languages of Papua New Guinea map allows you to visualize the cultural melting pot formed by all these languages together!

Map by Glottolog

Nigeria, with over 500 spoken languages, ranks as the third most multilingual country globally. Despite English being an official language, it is less commonly spoken in rural areas and among those with lower education levels. Strongly spoken languages in this multicultural country includes Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Fulfulde, Ibibio, Kanuri, and Tiv.

The association Translators Without Borders offers an interactive map showcasing languages in northeast Nigeria.

Map by Translators Without Borders

However, the data on the top 5 multilingual countries is just a reference and doesn't tell the whole story, as it considers the number of languages spoken, but only a few are spoken by >1% of the population. Most of them are not official languages of the countries.

Living in Cultural Melting Pot Cities

Can you imagine what it's like to live in the metropolises of these countries? A BBC report investigated this scenario by interviewing locals and expats from Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea); Jakarta (Indonesia); Lagos (Nigeria); Delhi (India); and Los Angeles (USA) to understand how it feels to live in such multilingual cities.

A day without a car in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Photo by

Another megalopolis in terms of language is New York, one of the most visited cities globally. You can experience how the influx of people in search of opportunities or refuge in the Big Apple colors the city's linguistic landscape. The most spoken languages in the world, such as Hindi, Spanish, Arabic, and Portuguese, are present, but also Tibetan, Peruvian Quechua, and Lithuanian. Explore with the map.

by Language Map of New York City

Interactive Maps

| How many parts of the world can you communicate with?

The Interactive World Map answers this question with a dose of entertainment. Give it a try.

by Language World Map

| How many languages are endangered?

3,045 languages are endangered today, according to Ethnologue. UNESCO estimates that half of the world's languages will disappear by the end of the century. The map below shows how these estimates are presented. Zoom in to see the names of endangered languages.

by Ethnologue

A language becomes endangered when community members shift to teaching and speaking a more dominant language to their children, leading to a decline in native speakers. These endangered languages typically have few remaining speakers, making it challenging to preserve information about them.

The stability of a language is closely linked to whether children in the community are still learning and using it. Institutional languages, adopted by governments, schools, and mass media, are less likely to become endangered.

Notice that extinctions are unevenly spread across the globe. In South America, the most threatened regions correspond to the Amazon rainforest, where indigenous languages are more concentrated.

In North America, southern Mexico (Oaxaca) and along the West coast of the United States stand out in the concentration of endangered languages, as well as in reservations of indigenous people in the Midwest. Sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, Australia, and Southeast Asia are about to lose the most languages.

| Voices around the world

And the most fun we saved for last: a collaborative map where you can record audio speaking phrases in your language and provide the English translation. Similarly, you can listen to voices in various languages and accents from around the world. 

A world map shows each country and breaks it down to regions as you zoom in.

map by Local Lingual

How fantastic! You might spend hours playing like a child who has just discovered the vastness of the world. Dive into the particularities and references of each region is the essence of localization and a very important tool for the excellence of a translation project.

Language is, or isn't it, a fascinating thing?

Thalita Lima
Passionate about languages and the power of localization to connect minds. Journalist, writer, photographer, and ecology student
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