Prior to discussing nations with several official languages, let’s clarify that we’re talking about the vast majority of countries on the planet. Acquiring a second language may seem like an adventure to those of us who grew up in monolingual countries, but for many people throughout the world, learning a second or even third language is just part of everyday life.
This list includes some of the world’s most multilingual countries. Because the United States, which has a population of nearly 325 million, would have qualified based only on the number of languages spoken, our requirements are broader. As an alternative, we’ve looked at places where speaking many languages is a regular part of daily life, such as countries like Japan and the Czech Republic.
Which Countries Have The Broadest Range of Languages?
The continent of Africa
There is no such thing as having too many official languages in South Africa, which has 11 now since the end of apartheid. In fact, the country’s early inhabitants spoke Afrikaans, a derivation of Dutch, and English, respectively, throughout much of its history (from the second wave of colonists, who arrived in 1822).
To put it in perspective, South Africa’s colonial history is notably perplexing. However, in South Africa, dialects and vernaculars were not systematically eliminated during the colonial era, as in other colonial countries.
However, conquerors actively sought to keep the indigenous population from gaining access to white-controlled institutions by promoting their use of these languages. Many vulnerable indigenous tribes got linguistically caged off, limiting democracy to millions of people for centuries.
In addition to Afrikaans and English, other languages such as Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu were recognized as official once formal apartheid ended. Most South Africans are fluent in two or more languages since the country is so linguistically varied.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea has the distinction of being the world’s most multilingual country, which is both an honor and a burden to some. There are approximately 850 languages spoken among a population of 8.9 million people in a country with over 850 different tribes. English and Tok Pisin, an English-based creole, have already suffocated several of these languages, which means they are in danger of becoming extinct altogether. Hiri Motu and Papua New Guinean Sign Language are the other two official languages of Papua New Guinea.