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Spread of the Russian Language

Map No.


Russian is spoken as a first language by around 154 million people, in at least 41 territories. It was the language of the former Soviet Union, and still has significant numbers of speakers in former Soviet states, and further afield across Europe and Asia. It was the first language to be spoken in space (by Yuri Gagarin in 1961).

Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet, which was based on the Greek uncial script.


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Technical Notes

Territory size shows the proportion of all people who speak Russian as a first language that live in that territory. The map removes the countries where Russian is dominant. This map therefore only shows 19.8% of all speakers of Russian. The territory omitted is Russian Federation.

The maps in the 2005 language data series are made from data on the number of people speaking a language as their first-language, that is the language they would use at home.

Data sources
This map uses data several sources, the main one being Ethnologue (15th Edition, 2005). Estimating the number of speakers of a language is fraught with difficulty on several levels (last accessed January 2009). We aim to map as complete data as possible and therefore estimate data for missing values. The language numbers we use and publish are rough estimates, and should not be taken as definitive. In some cases, missing data for very small territories is not used in the cartogram and that area is therefore omitted in the map.

Further notes on the data, as well as all modifications to the original data source are noted in our data sheets.

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