Urdu (/ˈʊərduː/; Urdu: اُردُو ALA-LC: Urdū [ˈʊrduː]) (also known as Lashkari, locally written لشکری [lʌʃkɜ:i:])—or, more precisely, Modern Standard Urdu—is a Persianised standard register of the Hindustani language. It is the official national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. In India, it is one of the 22 official languages recognized in the Constitution of India, having official status in the six states of Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, as well as the national capital territory of Delhi.
Apart from specialized vocabulary, spoken Urdu is mutually intelligible with standard Hindi, another recognized register of Hindustani. The Urdu variant of Hindustani received recognition and patronage under British rule when the British replaced the local official languages with English and Hindustani written in Nastaʿlīq script, as the official language in North and Northwestern India. Religious, social, and political factors pushed for a distinction between Urdu and Hindi in India, leading to the Hindi–Urdu controversy.
According to National encyklopedin’s 2010 estimates, Urdu is the 21st most spoken first language in the world, with approximately 66 million speakers. According to Ethnologue’s 2017 estimates, Urdu, along with standard Hindi and the languages of the Hindi belt (as Hindustani), is the 3rd most spoken language in the world, with approximately 329.1 million native speakers, and 697.4 million total speakers.