The Countries and Languages That Dominate Global Twitter

How It Works
Jan. 10 2014 10:45 AM

Top Countries on Twitter

A recent paper by six analysts from Northeastern University published on PLOS One sifts through a sample of 380 million tweets between October 2010 and May 2012 to identify a number of geographic and linguistic trends. The tweets—which were restricted to tweets sent by smartphones including GPS location data—came from more than 6 million users in 191 countries.  

Over that period, here were the countries with the most users per capita:

users
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Kuwait’s dominance jibes with other data indicating it has the highest Twitter penetration rate in the Middle East, though when measured by proportion of Internet users, Saudis are by far the world’s most active tweeters. Twitter use has been politically fraught in Kuwait in recent months, with one man sentenced to five years in prison last November for comments deemed religiously offensive. 

The popularity of Twitter in the Netherlands is also reflected in the surprisingly high ranking of Dutch among languages used:

languages

The researchers found a clear and not surprising correlation between GDP per capita and Twitter adoption. These charts would obviously look quite different is Twitter were legal and popular in China, but it is a little odd that India doesn’t rank higher.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog.