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Global Mapping International

Language Mapping Project

Uyghur map

Imagine seeing the world as a mosaic of peoples -- a distribution of tribes and ethnic groups and languages -- rather than primarily as countries and cities, or mountains and lakes. It was this dream that led GMI in 1988 to partner with SIL in the multi-year Language Mapping Project. The Language Mapping Project is based on the language classifications in SIL's Ethnologue language database.

The purpose of the Language Mapping Project is fourfold:

LMP Objectives

The objectives of the Language Mapping Project are:Ethnologue and Language Mapping Project

  1. to develop and verify computerized locations of the peoples of the world, tied to longitude/latitude coordinates, major geographical features such as rivers and roads, and major peoples databases
  2. to distribute the resulting maps to mission agencies, Christian organizations, and educational institutions
  3. to publish specialized missions maps in paper, overhead transparency, and digital graphics formats.

Project Status

Phase I of the Language Mapping Project -- creating a centroid point map of all the world's ethnolinguistic peoples -- was completed in 1994. The centroids are tied to longitude/latitude coordinates and coded with ID codes so that major peoples databases can easily be integrated with the language points.

Phase II of the Language Mapping Project has also been completed, resulting in the global mapping of traditional speaking areas for most of the world's 7000+ ethnolinguistic groups. Minor adjustments to this mapping are continuing as the Ethnologue is updated. The language data has been converted to a more detailed base map, the Digital Chart of the World.


Christian ministries are benefitting in a variety of ways from these new digital maps. Bible translation agencies and radio broadcasting agencies are using the maps for strategy and management. Agencies with peoples-centered strategies are using the maps in their annual reports to show where they are working. Missionaries are using printed versions of the maps to explain their ministry to supporting churches. Ministry organizations are using the mapping for unreached people profiling.

Global Mapping International uses the Language Mapping Project as the basis for an extensive array of custom maps for churches, mission agencies and mission schools.

The results of the Language Mapping Project are available to Christian ministry organizations as an intregal part of the Global Ministry Mapping System, and available to other users packaged separately as the World Language Mapping System.