Greek language

Indo-European language

The Greek language is an Indo-European language. It is the official language of Greece (Hellas) and Cyprus. It was first spoken in Greece and was also once spoken along the coast of Asia Minor (now a part of Turkey) and in southern Italy. It also used to be widely used in Western Asia and Northern Africa. In Greek, the language is called Ελληνικά (elliniká).

RegionGreece, southern Mediterranean
Native speakers
13 million (2012)[1]
Official status
Official language in
 European Union
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1el
ISO 639-2gre (B)
ell (T)
ISO 639-3Variously:
ell – Modern Greek
grc – Ancient Greek
cpg – Cappadocian Greek
gmy – Mycenaean Greek
pnt – Pontic
tsd – Tsakonian
yej – Yevanic
  • 56-AAA-a
  • 56-AAA-aa to -am (varieties)
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Spoken Greek

Greeks write their language using the Greek alphabet. The Latin alphabet, which used to write English and many other languages, came indirectly from the Greek alphabet by the Etruscan alphabet. Many other alphabets around the world also came from the Greek alphabet.

Greek has an unbroken history of being a written language for over 3,000 years. Thats is longer than any other Indo-European language spoken today. Its history is often divided into three parts, Ancient Greek, Medieval Greek, and Modern Greek. Medieval Greek is also called Byzzantine Greek because it was spoken in the Byzantine Empire.

Over 13 million people in the world speak Greek as of 2021, mostly live in Greece (almost 11 million) and Cyprus (over 1 million). There are also people in other countries around the world who speak the language, largely because people left Greece and Cyprus and emigrated to other countries. The United States and Australia have a large Greek diaspora.



  1. Greek at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Ancient Greek at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Cappadocian Greek at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Mycenaean Greek at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Pontic at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Tsakonian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    (Additional references under 'Language codes' in the information box)
  2. "List of Declarations Made with Respect to Treaty No. 148". Council of Europe. Archived from the original on 26 December 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2008.

Other websites