If you’re considering learning a foreign language, then you probably want to know how widespread that language is. And if you’re thinking of learning Russian, then you’ll want to know which countries have a considerable population of Russian speakers. Russian is a Slavic language, spoken by over 250 million speakers around the world. Of these, around 145 million are native speakers, and the balance are people who learned the language as a second tongue, or the children of native speakers.
When most people think of the Russian language, they think of Russia. That’s completely natural. But did you know that Russian is spoken as a major language in thirteen countries? These include:
In the simplest of terms, Slavic belong to a family of languages spoken by the Slavic people. Slavic people find their roots in Central and Eastern Europe, though not all people from those regions are Slavic. For example, the following nations are based in Central and Eastern Europe, but are not Slavic: Albania, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
Modern-day Slavic people, by contrast, fall into three categories:
Western Slavs: Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks
Eastern Slavs: Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians
South Slavs: Serbs, Bulgarians, Croats, Bosnians, Macedonians, Slovenes and Montenegrins
So does that mean that speakers of Polish can understand speakers of the Russian language? No, no more than speakers of German, English, and Spanish can understand each other. (Yes, I know that Spanish is a Romance language, while German and English are Germanic languages, but you get my point.)
Does that mean that speakers of the Russian language can understand Belarusians and Ukrainians? Actually, yes…. In much the same way that Spanish speakers from Mexico can communicate with Spanish speakers from Spain or English speakers in Australia can communicate with Canadians and Scottish people.