Hindi is classified as a language belonging to the Indo-European family of languages. It comes under the Indo Iranian branch of the Indo-Aryan division of that family of languages.
Hindi is the predominant language in the states and union territories of Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttaranchal, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh. Outside these areas, Hindi is widely spoken in cities like Mumbai, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad, all of which have their own native languages but harbour large communities of people from various parts of India.
Local variations of Hindi are counted as minority languages in several countries, including Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana, Suriname, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago.
A general belief prevails that Hindi is "the national language" of India, but this is hotly contested by many non-Hindi-speaking Indians: in fact, the eighth schedule of the Indian constitution lists a number of languages recognised as being "Official languages" for the purpose of communication between the Union and the speakers of those states. However, Hindi enjoys a special status in India as the first official language, as per the Indian constitution.
Hindi is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, due to the large population of India. According to the 1991 census of India (which encompasses all the dialects of Hindi, including those that might be considered separate languages by some linguists—e.g., Bhojpuri), Hindi is the mother tongue of about 337 million Indians, or about 40% of India's population that year. According to SIL International's Ethnologue , about 180 million people in India regard standard (Khari Boli) Hindi as their mother tongue, and another 300 million use it as a second language. Outside India, Hindi speakers number around 8 million in Nepal, 890,000 in South Africa, 685,000 in Mauritius, 317,000 in the U.S. , 233,000 in Yemen, 147,000 in Uganda, 30,000 in Germany, 20,000 in New Zealand and 5,000 in Singapore, while the UK and UAE also have notable populations of Hindi speakers. Hence, according to the SIL ethnologue (1999 data), Hindi/Urdu is the fifth most spoken language in the world. According to Comerie (1998 data), Hindi-Urdu is the second most spoken language in the world, with 330 million native speakers.