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Overview of Vitality of the World’s Languages

Overview of Vitality of the World’s Languages

How to interpret the indicator:

At least 43% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. This figure does not include the data-deficient languages, for which no reliable information is available. As their exact number is unknown, data-deficient languages are presented together with the safe ones on the above chart. An estimate of the total number of languages draws from the literature below:

  • Austin, P., 2008. 1000 Languages. The Worldwide History of Living and Lost Tongues. London, Thames and Hudson.
  • Brenzinger, M. (ed.), 2007. Language Diversity Endangered. Berlin, New York, Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Grenoble, L. and Whaley, L., 2006. Saving languages. An introduction to language revitalization. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  • Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.:SIL International.Online version: (Accessed 07 October 2010)
  • Moseley, C. (ed.), 2007. Encyclopedia of the World’s Endangered Languages, New York. Routledge

Endangered languages by degree of endangerment and by number of speakers

The Indicator of Language Vitality and Endangerment Status

How to interpret this chart:

The vertical axis indicates the number of endangered languages listed in the Atlas, while the horizontal one indicatesthe ‘language size group’ (up to 10000 speakers; 10000 to 100000 speakers; and 100000 speakers and above). This chart does not display the languages whose number of speakers is not reported in the Atlas.

3 0 - 9999 10000 - 99999 100000 - more No data on number of speakers Total
Vulnerable 331 152 103 5 591
Definitely endangered 400 151 63 25 639
Severely endangered 438 50 10 39 537
Critically endangered 519 15 0 42 576
Extinct 218 0 0 10 228
1 0 0 0 1
Total 1907 368 176 121 2572

Note: The table above counts each language community mapped in the Atlas, and not the agregated language entities.

Map of endangered languages by country

Note : Countries with the greatest linguistic diversity are typically also the ones with the most endangered languages.

How to read this map :

By placing the cursor over a country, you will obtain the total number of endangered languages spoken on its territory. By clicking on a country, you can see the distribution of these languages by degree of endangerment.

The interactive online edition of the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger is complementary to the print edition and may be cited as: