Russian language


August 13, 2022

The Russian language (Russian: Руясский языык ?, transliterated: Russkij jazyk [ˌɾuːskʲijɪᵊˈzɨk]) is an East Slavic language spoken in Russia and several former Soviet republics. As of 2022, it is spoken by 258.2 million total speakers.

Geographic distribution

It is the mother tongue of the majority of the population of Russia and part of the population in almost all former Soviet countries. According to Ethnologue 2021, Russian would be spoken by 153.7 million people as a mother tongue (L1) and by another 104.3 million as a second language (L2). It is therefore one of the most widely spoken languages ​​in the world. Most native speakers are in the Russian Federation (146 million at the 2010 census). Followed by Ukraine (8.3 million), Kazakhstan (6.2 million), Uzbekistan (1.7 million), Kyrgyzstan (1.4 million) and Belarus (1.3 million). In the other former Soviet republics there are a total of 3 million L1 speakers. The language is also attested in the United States (880,000 speakers) and Israel (750,000).


In Belarus, according to the constitution, Russian is a co-official language along with Belarusian. In 2006, 77% of Belarusians spoke Russian fluently; of these, 67% used it as their first language at home, at work and / or with friends. In Estonia, Russian is officially considered a foreign language. However, Russian is spoken as a first language by 29.6% of the population according to 2011 World Factbook estimates. In Finland, Russian has now become the third most widespread language by number of native speakers after the two official languages ​​- Finnish and Swedish - thanks to immigration from the Russian Federation and other post-Soviet states and in 2020 was the mother tongue of 84 190 people (1.52% of the country's population). Although the Grand Duchy of Finland (comprising the current territory of Finalndia enlarged by some other territories now part of the Russian Federation) had been part of the Russian Empire from 1809 to 6 December 1917 (when it gained independence), the Russian was not never official language of Finland and only with the language manifesto of 1900 was it made the administrative language of the Grand Duchy (in 1900 there were about 8 000 Russians in all of Finland out of a population of 2 692 000 inhabitants) and was co-official language together to Finnish and Swedish only for the short period between 1900 and 1917 (when Finland became fully independent from Russia). There are, therefore, more Russian native speakers in Finland today (both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population) than when the country was part of the Russian Empire. Despite the large minority of Russian speakers in Latvia (26.9% of ethnic Russians in 2011), Russian has been officially considered a foreign language since 2000. According to the "Official Language Law of 1999", in fact, Latvian is the only language recognized as official; all the others are considered minority and foreign languages, including Russian, although this is the mother tongue of almost a third of the population. The law also favors "an increase in the influence of the Latvian language in the cultural sphere of Latvia, which will promote a more rapid integration of society". According to the 2000 census, Russian was the mother tongue of 891 451 people, or 37.5% of the total population (2 377 383), and the second language of 43.7% of the residents. population was fluent in Russian and 30.2% used it as their main language at home, at work and / or with friends. On February 18, 2012, a referendum was held in Latvia on amendments to Latvia's constitution which would have added Russian as the country's second official language and which would have identified two working languages ​​- Latvian and Russian - for government institutions.