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Languages of Asia

Official and Spoken Languages of Countries in Asia and the Middle East

List of official, national and spoken languages of Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
Asian Countries
Country Official and national Languages Other spoken Languages
Afghanistan Pashtu (Pushtu), Dari Persian Other Turkic and minor languages.
Armenia Armenian (Hayeren) is an independent, one-language subgroup within the Indo-European language family. The unique Armenian alphabet, which consists of 39 characters, was created in 405 AD by a monk named Mesrop Mashtots. Russian widely used
Azerbaijan (Azeri; a Turkic language of the Altaic family) 89% Russian 3%, Armenian 2%, other 6%
Bahrain Arabic (Arabiyya) English, Farsi, Urdu
Bangladesh Bengali (Bangla) English
Bhutan Bhutanese (Dzongkha) The Bhotes (the principal ethnic majority 50%) speak various Tibetan dialects like Tshanglakha and Khenkha, Nepalese speak various Nepalese dialects like Lhotsamkha.
Brunei Darussalam Malay, English Chinese
Cambodia Khmer spoken by more than 95% of the population (Khmer language is influenced by spoken and written Thai) Some French still spoken, English increasingly popular as a second language.
China Putonghua (Mandarin) Wu (spoken in Shanghai), Yue (Cantonese) and other Chinese dialects like Min, Hakka (Kejia), Gan and Xiang.
Cyprus Greek, Turkish English
Georgia Georgian Russian, Armenian, Azeri and other. note: Abkhaz is the official language in Abkhazia.
India Hindi, English (the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication) Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Panjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu
Indonesia Bahasa Indonesia (official, modified form of Malay) English, Dutch, local dialects, the most widely spoken of which is Javanese.
Iran Persian and Persian dialects 58% (Farsi) Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic
Iraq Arabic (Arabiyya), Kurdish (official since 8 March 2004) Assyrian (Syriac-Aramaic), Armenian, Turcoman
Israel Hebrew (Ivrit), Arabic Yiddish, Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Tat, Judeo-Berber, English – is the major foreign language.
Japan Japanese (Nihongo) Ryukyuan Languages
Jordan Arabic (Arabiyya) English widely understood among upper and middle classes.
Kazakhstan Kazakh (Qazaq, state language) 64.4%, Russian (official, used in everyday business, designated the “language of interethnic communication”) 95%
Korea (North) Korean (Choso’nmal or Choson’o)
Korea (South) Korean (Hangungmal); Korean is written in Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. English widely taught in junior high and high school.
Kuwait Arabic (Arabiyya) English widely spoken.
Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyz, Russian note: in December 2001, the Kyrgyzstani legislature made Russian an official language, equal in status to Kyrgyz.
Laos Lao French, English, and various ethnic languages
Lebanon Arabic (Arabiyya) French, English, Armenian
Macau Putonghua (Mandarin), Portuguese Everyone speaks Yue Chinese (Cantonese), English is used as a “working language”.
Malaysia Bahasa Melayu English, Chinese dialects, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai; note: in addition, in East Malaysia several indigenous languages are spoken, the largest are Iban and Kadazan.
Maldives Maldivian Dhivehi (dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic) English spoken by most government officials.
Mongolia Khalkha Mongol (a branch of the Altaic family) Turkic, Russian
Myanmar (Burma) Burmese 135 minority ethnic groups have their own languages.
Nepal Nepali (official and lingua franca of the country) 90% Sixty ethnic groups, who speak seventy different dialects and eleven major languages like Tibeto-Burman, Lhotsamkha, Nepalbhasa, Tamang languages; minorities Bhutanese (Dzongkha), Tibetan languages, possibly Chinese dialects. note: many in government and business also speak English
Oman Arabic (Arabiyya) English, Baluchi, Urdu, Indian dialects.
Palestine Arabic (Arabiyya), Hebrew (Ivrit, spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians) English (widely understood)
Pakistan Urdu 8%, English (official and “lingua franca” of Pakistani elite and most government ministries) Punjabi 48%, Sindhi 12%, Siraiki (a Punjabi variant) 10%, Pashtu 8%, Balochi 3%, Hindko 2%, Brahui 1%, Burushaski, and other 8%
Philippines Filipino (based on Tagalog) and English. Filipino is the national language. English is also widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education. Major dialects: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocan, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense.
Qatar Arabic (Arabiyya) English commonly used as a second language.
Saudi Arabia Arabic (Arabiyya)
Singapore Chinese, Malay, Tamil, English
Sri Lanka Sinhala (official and national language) 74%, Tamil (national language) 18% Other 8% note: English is commonly used in government and is spoken competently by about 10% of the population.
Syria Arabic (Arabiyya) Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian widely understood; French, English somewhat understood.
Taiwan Chinese Mandarin (PuTongHua) Taiwanese (Min), Hakka dialects.
Tajikistan Tajik Russian widely used in government and business.
Thailand Thai English (secondary language of the elite), ethnic and regional dialects
Timor-Leste Tetum, Portuguese Indonesian, English; note: there are about 16 indigenous languages; Tetum, Galole, Mambae, and Kemak are spoken by significant numbers of people.
Turkey Turkish (türkçe) Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian, Greek
Turkmenistan Turkmen 72% Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%
United Arab Emirates Arabic (Arabiyya) Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu
Uzbekistan Uzbek 74.3% Russian 14.2%, Tajik 4.4%, other 7.1%
Viet Nam Vietnamese English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer; mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)
Yemen Arabic (Arabiyya)