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Papua New Guinea: The Most Linguistically Diverse Country On The Planet

Travelers Today       By    Sheobi Anne Ramos

Updated: Apr 12, 2017 06:53 AM EDT

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Linguistic Diversity
Papua New Guinea boasts of over 820 dialects.
(Photo: Endlessummerable/Youtube)

The human language varies in all parts of the world, and there are over a thousand dialects and languages spoken today. Some countries are more linguistically diverse than others, and there are some who are known to speak their own language only.

Papua New Guinea, however, holds the record of being the most linguistically diverse country on the planet. On the map created by the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh's Kazimierz J. Zaniewski that focuses on the level of linguistic diversity of every country, Papua New Guinea garnered a linguistic diversity index of 0.99 because of the whopping number of 820 different languages spoken in the country, according to Matador Network.

That means, in every 558 sq. km (215 sq. miles) of space in Papua New Guinea, there is one language present. There is no other place in the world that has a language density such as theirs.

According to Languages of The World, there are several factors why Papua New Guinea is so linguistically diverse, with the major factors being time and topography. People have been inhabiting the country's area for over 40,000 years, thus allowing them ample time to develop language and speech patterns.

The geographical state of the country also posed as a barrier for social interaction many years ago because of its rugged coastline, mountains, islands, tropical forests and the like, therefore tribes had a problem interacting with one another, promoting language diversity. Most of these languages have evolved and still exist today, a part of the country's culture.

Still, having 820 languages in one country doesn't necessarily mean they are all still spoken today. Some dialects spoken in small tribes across the country have evolved and merged into some others, and the majority of the country's population only speaks three official languages which are English, Motu-a local dialect, and Tok Pisin.

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