This Area's Inhabitants Speak More Languages Than Anywhere Else On Earth


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockFeb 23 2017, 17:43 UTC


There are a million and a half ways to quantify a city and its inhabitants. However, one of the most revealing and insightful ways to break down a geographical area is by language – and nowhere is more diverse than Queens, New York City.

At least 800 languages are spoken in New York City. The area of Queens is the most diverse of all its boroughs, making it the most linguistically diverse place on the planet.


This melting pot of cultures and ethnicities has fostered languages from every corner of the world, whether it be Spanish, Russian, Greek, Japanese, Yiddish, Urdu, Amuzgo, Sherpa, Waray-Waray, Mustang, Gujarati, Tzotzil, Zulu, Iloko, or Haitian Creole.

In the book "Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas", authors Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro use this map to illustrate just how insanely diverse this pocket of New York is. It was created with the help of the Endangered Language Alliance, a non-profit group dedicated to preserving the "the immense linguistic diversity of urban areas." Their wonderfully made map shows where these communities tend to be centered, as well as whether the language has an official Queens Library collection.

For more detail, check out the high-resolution version of the map.


Excerpt Map of Queens that displays where each community can be found. Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. Cartography: Molly Roy; Photographs: Mirissa Neff "Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas" 2016. University of California Press.


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  • new york,

  • language,

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  • diversity,

  • cartography