This comprehensive handbook introduces a theoretical framework of the contextual situations of language maintenance and shift in which are found bilingualism and bilingual education. It presents us with the basic facts about language and language families in the world and where they are located, and illustrates the range of possibilities of languages in contact. A major portion of this important work is devoted to a series of case studies of bilingualism/multilingualism within nation states, arranged alphabetically, and representing specific situations in all corners of the world. Each chapter stands alone and can be read for the information it contains. The book provides a valuabe resource for theory testing and documents the range of educational policies for minority social groups, and emphasizes the legitimacy and importance of scholarly study of this complex social issue.