The word "Bangla" in Bengali script
Native to Bangladesh and India
There are some 300 million native speakers of Bengali
Bengali generally known by its endonym Bangla is an Indo-Aryan language native to the Bengal region of South Asia. It is the official, national, and most widely spoken language of Bangladesh and the second most widely spoken of the 22 scheduled languages of India. With approximately 300 million native speakers and another 37 million as second language speakers, Bengali is the fifth most-spoken native language and the seventh most spoken language by total number of speakers in the world. Bengali is the fifth most spoken Indo-European language.
Bengali is the official and national language of Bangladesh, with 98% of Bangladeshis using Bengali as their first language. Within India, Bengali is the official language of the states of West Bengal, Tripura and the Barak Valley region of the state of Assam. It is also a second official language of the Indian state of Jharkhand since September 2011. It is the most widely spoken language in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, and is spoken by significant populations in other states including Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha and Uttarakhand. Bengali is also spoken by the Bengali diasporas (Bangladeshi diaspora and Indian Bengalis) in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and other countries.
Bengali has developed over the course of more than 1,300 years. Bengali literature, with its millennium-old literary history, extensively developed during the Bengali Renaissance and is one of the most prolific and diverse literary traditions in Asia. The Bengali language movement from 1948 to 1956 demanding Bengali to be an official language of Pakistan fostered Bengali nationalism in East Bengal leading to the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971. In 1999, UNESCO recognised 21 February as International Mother Language Day in recognition of the language movement.
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