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The most popular emojis on Twitter (and why we love using them!)

They make up a universal language that doesn’t need words! They are the playful pictograms that help us say the things we really mean without actually saying them.

We're talking, of course, about the emoji.

But why have we become so obsessed with these tiny pics? Which ones do we use the most? And will they one day replace the spoken word completely?

Crossword Solver decided to investigate.

After all, words are its main business. So using data from geotagged tweets, its team of designers created several maps highlighting the most used emoji on Twitter in every country.

You can see what they are below.

But first, let's take a closer look at the rise of the emoji.

Why do we love emojis?

Research from Bangor University found that almost three quarters (72%) of people between 18 and 25 years of age prefer to send emojis than a text-based message.

Some participants said they feel more comfortable expressing their emotions through pictures. Others stated that emojis better express those complex feelings we can't always sum up in words.

And they're not the first ones to express an anxiety over the limits of language. The space between how we feel and how we can speak about those feelings has been the primary topic of interest for many of history's greatest thinkers. They include the Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who appears to have predicted the need for emojis long before the invention of the first digital screen.

In his 1929 work Some Remarks on Logical Form, Wittgenstein wrote the following:

"I often can't express myself with words. If I were a good draftsman, I could convey an innumerable number of expressions by four strokes".

"Some words are better expressed by faces. Far from simplifying our discourse, the crude symbols would make it more precise. If we want to be exact when we speak, we should use a gesture or a facial expression."

The return of the ancient

In The Story of Emoji, linguistic expert Gavin Lucas argues that emoji is the fastest growing language in the history of humankind.

He might be right.

When emojis first appeared on the IOS keyboard in 2011, less than 10% of Instagram posts included one of the picture messages. Today, over 50% of every Instagram post contains at least one emoji!

The rise of the emoji seems astonishing. But it's actually not that surprising. And rather than seeing emoji as a 'new' language, it's better thought of as the return of the oldest form of communication, albeit in a digital format.

Emojis tap into our innate cognitive ability to read facial emotions and expressions. Natural scientist Charles Darwin would often show house guests a series of photographs of people. He then asked them to judge what feeling was being displayed. Over 90% of respondents used the same words to describe the face in the pictures.

The results supported Darwin's theory that facial expressions were our first language and a key to our survival. He thought they were used to signal danger and express our feelings long before we had the words to go alongside them.

American journalist and blogger Tom Vanderbilt agrees. He writes, "Darwin was describing social media 1.0. In this sense, emoji is not a new language, but the oldest one of all."

The world's favorite emojis

The world's favorite emoji is the laughing face with tears of joy. It's the most commonly used emoji in 75 countries, including Canada, the USA, China, and Mongolia.

It's the only picture to win Oxford University Press' Word of the Year competition. Judges believed it best reflected the ethos, mood and preoccupations of life in 2015

The most used emoji in every country, revealed

The heart picture is our second most favorite emoji to send to each other; it's a comforting thought that suggests love really does help the world go round.


Other of the most commonly used emojis include the cool emoji with shades, the blushing emoji blowing a kiss, and the thumbs up.

Emojis in North America

The rolling on the floor laughing emoji is number one in Cuba, Guatemala, and Honduras.


Niguarurans share the love by posting the red heart more than any other emoji.

The citizens of Mexico, El Salvador, and Costa Rica express patriotic pride by posting pictures of their national flags the most. The national flag is also the number one emoji in the Dominican Republic.

South America

Exactly 50% of South American countries share the red heart emoji more than any other. They include Brazil, Peru, and Argentina.


National pride is expressed through emojis in Guyana and Bolivia. The national flag is the most widely shared picture message in both countries.

Europe

Europeans love a flag emoji. It's the most popular emoji in Denmark, Norway, Poland, Ukraine, and 15 other European nations.


The top emoji across the rest of the European countries is either the red love heart or the crying with laughter face.

The Middle East and Central Asia

The white heart is the number one emoji in Saudi Arabia. It's used as an alternative to the red heart, which is often associated with lust and desire. Public displays of these feelings can constitute a public morals offense in Saudi Arabia.


The red pushpin is the favored emoji for people living in Kuwait. Why? We honestly don't know!

Asia and Oceania

The prayer hands are posted more than any other emoji in India and neighboring Nepal.


South Koreans prefer to send a purple heart rather than a red one. Again, it's a way to express affection without making particular advances to the receiver.

Japan is the only country in the world where the sparkles emoji is number one.

Africa

The face with tears of joy dominates the emoji world in Africa. It came out on top in 37 of the 50 African countries included in the study.


10 African countries tweet their national flags more than any other emoji. They include Senegal, Morocco, and Burundi.

A picture is worth a thousand words; an emoji is worth even more. It's why we'll continue to love and use them every day!

Read next: Online Fraud is On the Rise, Are Bad Bots to Blame?

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