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What are the 10 most common last names in the world?

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Quick Answer

The most common surnames in the world are Lee (or Li), Zhang, Wang, Nguyen, Garcia, Gonzalez, Hernandez, Smith, Smirnov and Muller, as of 2015. A world ranking is only approximate because some countries do not provide a specific number of people who bear a certain surname.

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Full Answer

China hosts the three most common surnames because it is the country with the largest population in the world. Li and Lee are the surnames of over 100 million people of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese heritage. The name derives from the Chinese word for "plum tree"; the name was popularized by the emperors of the Tang dynasty that used it. Zhang is also a surname for over 100 million people of Chinese origin. The name derives from the Chinese word for "bow stretch," most likely to identify bowmakers. Wang is used by over 93 million people of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese origins; the name derives from the Chinese word for "king."

Nguyen is used by over 36 million people of Vietnamese origin. The name derives from "ruan," the Chinese name for a lute-like instrument. Garcia and Gonzalez are both used by more than 10 million people of Spanish and Latin-American origin. Garcia derives from the Basque word for "bear," while Gonzalez and Hernandez, used by 8 million people, refer to being a son of Gonzalo and Hernando respectively.

Smith is the most common surname in the English language, with over 4 million bearers across the world. Smirnov and Muller are the most common surnames in Russia and Germany respectively, with each name used by over a million people.

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