List of countries where French is an official language

List of countries where French is an official language

The following is a list of sovereign states and territories where French is an official or de facto language.


Countries where French is an official language

The ten most populated French-speaking countries according to the CIA "World factbook". Please note that French is not a de jure official language in Morocco and Algeria.
The ten countries with the largest number of French speakers, 2005, according to the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), full and partial speakers combined.

The following is a list of the 29 countries where French is an official language. Note that in most of these countries, French is not the only language, and therefore the population does not indicate the number of French-speakers.

In Belgium, the official languages are French, Dutch, and German. The country is divided in four linguistic parts: Brussels (officially bilingual, de-facto French-speaking majority), Wallonia (French) and Flanders (Dutch) and the German-speaking Community. See further:[clarification needed]

French in Cameroon is another example of the heterogeneous Francophone world. It is different from the French spoken in France, Canada, or Gabon. There are different varieties of Cameroon French. French of Cameroon’s North part is different from French of the country’s South part. This is due to the fact that the country is neither socially nor culturally uniform. As a consequence, French will be different from one province/department to another.[1] See further: languages of Cameroon.

In Canada, French was introduced during the 17th century with the French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1534. Quebec was founded by the French Samuel de Champlain in 1608. There are high chances that French immigrants going to Nouvelle-France (New-France) had to have good knowledge of regional French before their departure. Nowadays, the official languages in Canada are English and French; however, only the province of Quebec has a French-speaking majority. Sizable French-speaking minorities exist in the provinces of New Brunswick, Ontario, and Manitoba.

Nr. Country Continent Population (2008)[2] French-speakers (2005 estimation)[3] Partial-French speakers (2005 estimation) French-speakers, full and partial combined
# - Francophone World 367,428,669 NA NA 162,348,020
1.  Democratic Republic of the Congo Africa 66,514,506 &100000000060800000000006,080,000 &1000000001824000000000018,240,000 24,320,000
2.  France Europe 65,057,790 &1000000006057860000000060,578,6001 NA 60,578,600
3.  Canada North America 33,143,600 &100000000067419550000006,741,955 2,848,745 9,590,700
4.  Madagascar Africa 20,042,551 &10000000000865000000000865,000 &100000000026642000000002,664,200 3,529,200
5.  Cameroon Africa 18,467,692 &100000000029503000000002,950,300 &100000000043931000000004,393,100 7,343,400
6.  Côte d'Ivoire Africa 18,373,060 &1000000001274000000000012,740,000 NA 12,740,000
7.  Burkina Faso Africa 15,264,735 &10000000000695000000000695,000 NA 695,000
8.  Niger Africa 13,272,679 &100000000012600000000001,260,000 NA 1,260,000
9.  Senegal Africa 12,853,259 &100000000011700000000001,170,000 2,457,000 3,627,000
10.  Mali Africa 12,324,029 &100000000011070000000001,107,000 NA 1,107,000
11.  Rwanda Africa 10,473,282 &10000000000609000000000609,000 174,000 783,000
12.  Belgium Europe 10,403,951 &100000000043000000000004,300,000 2,000,000 6,300,000
13.  Guinea Africa 10,211,437 &100000000020000000000002,000,000 4,000,000 6,000,000
14.  Chad Africa 10,111,337 &100000000019400000000001,940,000 NA 1,940,000
15.  Haiti North America 8,924,553 &100000000056640000000005,664,000 5,622,500 6,286,500
16.  Burundi Africa 8,691,005 &10000000000390000000000390,000 234,000 624,000
17.  Benin Africa 8,294,941 &10000000000739200000000739,200 1,402,800 2,142,000
18.  Switzerland Europe 7,581,520 &100000000015096000000001,509,600 2,072,000 3,582,120
19.  Togo Africa 5,858,673 &100000000020000000000002,000,000 NA 2,000,000
20.  Central African Republic Africa 4,434,873 &10000000000945000000000945,000 NA 945,000
21.  Republic of the Congo Africa 3,903,318 &100000000012000000000001,200,000 1,200,000 2,400,000
22.  Gabon Africa 1,485,832 &100000000012000000000001,200,000 NA 1,200,000
23.  Comoros Africa 731,775 &10000000000312200000000312,200 NA 312,200
24.  Equatorial Guinea Africa 616,459 &10000000000100000000000100,000 200,000 300,000
25.  Djibouti Africa 506,221 &10000000000159800000000159,800 159,800
26.  Luxembourg Europe 486,006 &10000000000430000000000430,000 20,000 450,000
27.  Vanuatu Oceania 215,446 &1000000000009900000000099,000 NA 99,000
28.  Seychelles Africa 82,247 &100000000000040000000004,000 44,000 48,000
29.  Monaco Europe 32,796 &1000000000002340000000023,400 NA 23,400

In addition to this, the Vatican City registers itself as a French-speaking country in the international organisations with which it has relationship.

Dependent entities where French is an official language

Nr. Entity Continent Population Status
1. India Pondicherry Asia &10000000000973829000000973,829 Union Territory of India
2.  French Polynesia Oceania &10000000000267000000000267,000 Overseas Collectivity of France
3. New Caledonia New Caledonia Oceania &10000000000224824000000224,824 Overseas Collectivity of France
4.  Aosta Valley Europe &10000000000128000000000128,000 Autonomous region of Italy
5.  Jersey Europe &1000000000009153300000091,533 British Crown dependency
6.  Guernsey Europe &1000000000006572600000065,726 British Crown dependency
7.  Saint Martin North America &1000000000002937600000029,376 Overseas Collectivity of France
8.  Wallis and Futuna Oceania &1000000000001644800000016,448 Overseas Collectivity of France
9  Saint Barthélemy North America &100000000000074920000007,492 Overseas Collectivity of France
10.  Saint Pierre and Miquelon North America &100000000000070440000007,044 Overseas Collectivity of France
11.  French Southern and Antarctic Lands Antarctica, Africa &10000000000000140000000140 TAAF districts
12. France Clipperton North America &100000000000000000000000 French state private property

Sub-national regions located within countries where French is the official national language are not included in this list. The five overseas regions of France (Départements d'Outre-Mer, or DOM): Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, and Réunion, have the same status as metropolitan France and are not listed here. French has a certain legal status in the US-Louisiana but it's not considered de-jure official.

Countries where French is commonly used but not official

Countries that are usually considered as Francophone Africa.

After gaining independence in the 1950s and 1960s, the Arabic-speaking countries of the Maghreb: Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, strived to reduce the use of French by implementing different arabisation policies. However, the language switch was difficult because competence in Standard Arabic (which is different from the Maghrebi varieties) was far behind competence in French. French remains the language of the private sector and close contacts with France and other French-speaking countries ensures the language's survival. Mauritania, also an Arabic-speaking country, abolished French as a de jure official language in 1991, but has like its northern neighbours kept it as the de facto second language.

In Mauritius, English is considered the official language, however French is the dominant language of mass communications and business, the French-based Mauritian Creole is the main native language and serves as the country's lingua franca.

In the United States, French is de facto co-official with English in the states of Louisiana and Maine and is widely spoken in New England but speakers can be found nationwide. French is the second most widely studied foreign language after Spanish in the nation and along with English and Spanish, is also used in government notices and services.

French is spoken in small amounts mainly by the elderly and elite populations in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. This is due to the heavy French influence on the former territory known as French Indochina, which included these countries. However, since the early 1990s and 2000s, there has been a revivial of the French language in these three countries and French is used for international relations and is at times used as an administrative language.[4]

Lebanon is officially Arabic-speaking, but French is commonly spoken, especially by Christians, and the language receives some government recognition. Lebanon does not only count an important number of French speakers; it is also Francophile. The linguistic plurality of Lebanon is due to its important place in the business world. This explains why so many Lebanese speak fluent French and/or English. Until the civil war, some Christian communities refused to speak Arabic. Christians used to go to high schools where lessons were given in French. Thus theses communities became French speaking. French is generally more spoken by wealthy classes of the population. Although English developed these last years in the country, French stays the first foreign language in Lebanon. Indeed, 45% of the population is French speaking (against 30% of English speakers).

Catalan is the official language of Andorra, a small country which lies along the French-Spanish border, French is also commonly used and understood due to the country's proximity to France and French influence.

Location of Maghreb (French is a second language in all countries of the Grand Maghreb except Libya)
Nr. Country Continent Population French-speakers (2005 estimation)[5][6] Partial-French speakers French-speakers, real and partial combined
1.  Morocco Africa 34,343,219 &100000000041445000000004,144,500 5,986,500 10,131,001
2.  Algeria Africa 33,769,669 &1000000002100000000000021,000,000 NA 21,000,000
3.  Tunisia Africa 10,383,577 &100000000063600000000006,360,000 NA 6,360,000
4.  Lebanon Asia 4,088,941 &10000000000684000000000684,000 &10000000000760000000000760,000 1,444,000
5.  Mauritania Africa 3,364,940 &10000000000167400000000167,400 &10000000000155000000000155,000 322,400
6.  Mauritius Africa 1,274,189 &10000000000180000000000180,000 &10000000000692500000000692,500 872,500
7.  Andorra Europe 72,413 &1000000000003420000000034,200 16,400 50,600

Map showing countries where French is an official language

Map showing countries where French is an official language.

Alphabetical list


  1. ^ Biloa, E. (2004), La langue française au Cameroun, Peter Lang SA, Bern (Allemagne).
  2. ^ "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. July 2008 estimates. Retrieved 2008-06-14. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ La Francophonie in Asia, France-Diplomatie, 2005,, retrieved 2010-10-14 
  5. ^
  6. ^

See also

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