The tongue (141 ICD-9) is the most common intraoral site for cancer in most countries, however its global epidemiology shows significant geographic variation. This review paper summarises the global incidence of cancer of the tongue using cancer maps and references to recent studies from various locations. Tongue cancer remains a serious health problem in many countries including India (male incidence rates up to 6.5 per 100,000 per annum) and parts of Europe (male incidence rates in France up to 8.0 per 100,000 per annum). It is noted that as with other forms of oral cancer the majority of population-based data for tongue cancer comes from the Western world with a paucity of reliable data from the so-called developing countries. The tongue remains the most common intraoral site for oral cancer worldwide and in a number of countries it is a serious public health problem with significant morbidity and mortality. While the incidence of tongue cancer appears to be stable or falling in some regions of the world, in other areas it is rising, particularly among younger people.