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(Infographic) The Economic Power of the World’s Most Spoken Languages

Updated: Nov 24, 2018


Global languages ranked based on the number of first language (L1) + second language (L2) speakers and the total gross domestic product (GDP) of countries and territories that include that language as an official language.


1. English

Total number of speakers: 1.121 billion

L1 speakers: 378 million

L2 speakers: 743.5 million

Total GDP: $30.4 trillion (59 countries and territories)


2. Chinese (Mandarin)

Total number of speakers: 1.107 billion

L1 speakers: 908.7 million

L2 speakers: 198 million

Total GDP: $13 trillion (5 countries and territories)


3. Spanish

Total number of speakers: 513 million

L1 speakers: 442 million

L2 speakers: 70.6 million

Total GDP: $4.57 trillion (21 countries and territories)


4. French

Total number of speakers: 285 million

L1 speakers: 76.7 million

L2 speakers: 208 million

Total GDP: $4.54 trillion (40 countries and territories)


5. Arabic

Total number of speakers: 422 million

L1 speakers: 290 million

L2 speakers: 132 million

Total GDP: $2.55 trillion (25 countries and territories)


6. German

Total number of speakers: 132 million

L1 speakers: 76 million

L2 speakers: 56 million

Total GDP: $4.7 trillion (6 countries and territories)


7. Japanese

Total number of speakers: 128 million

L1 speakers: 128 million

L2 speakers: 131,000

Total GDP: $4.87 trillion (1 country)


8. Portuguese

Total number of speakers: 236.5 million

L1 speakers: 222.7 million

L2 speakers: 13.8 million

Total GDP: $2.43 trillion (10 countries and territories)


9. Russian

Total number of speakers: 264 million

L1 speakers: 153.9 million

L2 speakers: 110 million

Total GDP: $1.79 trillion (4 countries and territories)


10. Italian

Total number of speakers: 67.8 million

L1 speakers: 64.8 million

L2 speakers: 3 million

Total GDP: $1.99 trillion (4 countries and territories)


Sources:

Simons, Gary F. and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2018. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Twenty-first edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International.


The World Bank, Open Data (2017). GDP (current US$) [Data file]. Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD.

About the Author


Jason Gower is the creator and instructor of Expand Life Business English courses. He has more than fifteen years of business experience and has learned both German and Spanish to a C2 level. Click to learn more about Expand Life Business English courses.

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