What Are the Third-Most Popular Languages in Every Country in the World?

Many people can guess what is the most popular language in many countries around the world — and the main language which is spoken by the people of its country can reveal a lot of information pertaining to its history, culture, and relationships with others…

What Are the Third-Most Popular Languages in Every Country in the World?

Click on the image for an enlarged view. Source: Budget Direct.

…but which languages place as second or third most popular in each country as well — and what stories do they reveal about the diversity, history, and deep roots of each country?

This article from Budget Direct — which includes the methodology of how the data was retrieved — digs deeper and discovers the underlying values, subcultures, and hidden stories which are divulged with the help of the third-most popular language of each country.

I have been given express written permission to use the maps and the verbatim text from the aforementioned article in this article; so let us take a break from the news of the day and have a little fun.

Click on the map for an enlarged view. Source: Budget Direct.

1. North America

You may notice a pattern in the North American map below – and unfortunately, that pattern is “no data available.” For 10 of the 23 countries, we weren’t able to find data for the third-most popular language. But we were able to discover that in Canada, the largest of the North American countries, Punjabi was the third-most popular language. In the United States, it was Chinese, and in Mexico, it was Chol, a language in the Mayan family.

And as you might have expected, the most common language in most countries in North America is English, but only by a tiny margin. In ten countries, English is the most popular language, but in nine, it’s Spanish.

Click on the map for an enlarged view. Source: Budget Direct.

2. Europe

It may surprise you to know that the third-most popular language in the countries of Europe, was not English or even French, but was Italian. In four countries – Croatia, Malta, Monaco, and Switzerland – Italian ruled as the third-most popular language. In three countries – Austria, Kosovo, and Slovenia – the third-most popular language was Serbian. In Vatican City, Italy, and Luxembourg, it was French; and in Belarus, Bulgaria, and Romania, it was Romani.

The map below will show you in more detail the third-most popular languages in each country in Europe. What it doesn’t show you, however, is that German is actually the most popular first language in all of Europe and that English is easily the second-most popular. You can find more detailed information on the first- and second-most popular languages on the maps at the bottom of the page.

Click on the map for an enlarged view. Source: Budget Direct.

3. Asia

With all of the headlines and stories flying around about how China is soon to take over the world, you might have guessed that one of the most popular languages in Asia would be Chinese. However, not only is Chinese not Asia’s third-most popular language in most countries (it’s English), it’s not even the most popular language (it’s Arabic).

Armenian comes in behind English in popularity being spoken in Palestine, Syria, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, and then comes in Chinese, the third-most popular language in Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Brunei (certain dialects of Chinese, that is). In the map below, you’ll see the third-most popular languages spoken all over Asia.

Click on the map for an enlarged view. Source: Budget Direct.

4. South America

South America may be known as a primarily Spanish-speaking continent – and it is, where eight out of twelve countries’ most popular language is Spanish. But when it comes to the third-most popular language, South America is a mixed bag, with languages ranging from English to Sranan Tongo, an English-based Creole language.

Only two pairs of countries share a common third-most popular language: Bolivia and Peru with Aymara (spoken by the Aymaran people in the Andes) and Paraguay and Chile with German. Interestingly, this came over with a flood of German immigrants in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Click on the map for an enlarged view. Source: Budget Direct.

5. Africa

You might notice a whole lot going on in this map. That’s because, with 54 countries, Africa has the most countries of any continent. We also found an incredible 42 languages as the third-most popular in these countries. This means many of these African countries have different popular languages than their neighbours. This discrepancy makes sense when we consider the vastly different histories and cultures both within African countries and across borders.

With all of the different languages spoken in these countries, though, English still remains the third-most popular language in the most places with a total of six countries.

Click on the map for an enlarged view. Source: Budget Direct.

6. Oceania

Oceania is a continent of islands that, in some cases and places, have been much less influenced by the modern world. So it’s no surprise that some of the third languages you’ll see on this map aren’t as well known. Niuafo’ou, for example, is the third-most popular language on Tonga’s northernmost island, and the little-known Hiri Motu is the third-most popular language in Papua New Guinea.

Only two countries in Oceania share a common third language: Samoan, spoken in Tuvalu and New Zealand. On the larger end of things, there’s Australia. Its third-most popular language is Arabic, just preceded by Mandarin, and of course, English.

Click on the map for an enlarged view. Source: Budget Direct.

Summary

When I was in Côte d’Ivoire during my first time in Africa, I had no idea that Baoulé — of which I actually know a few words and have spoken — was the most popular language in that country. I understood that at least 26 different native dialects were spoken in what is also known as the Ivory Coast in addition to French and some English.

This map reveals the second-most popular language in every country in the world.

Click on the map for an enlarged view. Source: Budget Direct.

As you might have expected, English turned out to be the most popular third language overall — but second to that was French; and tied for third most popular, Chinese and Italian. Interestingly, Chinese is actually the most widely spoken language in the world; but it is the third-most popular language in only four other countries.

I thought that this was a fun and informative look at the most popular languages spoken in every country around the world.

Other articles which are posted here at The Gate pertaining to languages include:

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “What Are the Third-Most Popular Languages in Every Country in the World?”

  1. JBS says:

    It’s evident I can turn to both the Economist and the Gate for articles on one of my favorite topics, language. Well done! It’s good to know I fluently speak the most spoken language in Europe and also in North America, namely German and English, as well as the most spoken language in the world, English, with 1:5 billion speakers worldwide. (Of course as you recently found out, I don’t speak much Spanish.).

  2. Christian says:

    If English is the second most popular language in Jamaica, what’s the first? I’ve been to Jamaica a number of times, and while the local version of English takes some getting used to, it is an English variant, just as the English spoken in the rural U.S. is a variant as well.

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