How many countries speak French?

How many countries use French, is one of the most search terms on the internet. The French language is spoken by hundreds of people worldwide. But just how many countries have French as their official language? How many countries in Africa speak French? How many in Europe? And why is that the case? Let us first explore how many countries have French as their official language and why?

The World en Français

The French language is a globally spoken tongue with over two hundred million native and secondary language speakers. Fluent French conversers can be found all over the world. French is even the second most popular official language for countries around the world. And 84 countries around the world are part of the greater Francophone community.

But just how many countries have French as their official language? And what makes each region’s French dialect unique? French is an official language in 29 of the 84 Francophone countries. These countries have all been influenced by or tied to France at some point in time. Read on to learn why and how many countries have French as their official language.

this is how Many Countries Have French as Their Official Language in Europe - 5 countries

How many French Speaking Countries are there in Europe?

It might not be a surprise to learn that French is the official language of the country of France. But the French language is spoken by other European nations, too. Other European countries where French as an official language include:

  1. Belgium
  2. Monaco
  3. Switzerland
  4. Luxembourg

People with a good sense of geography will recognize that these four countries are neighbors of France. Their closeness to France means that they share many common historical, economic, and political ties throughout history. The French language has been a unifying language that allowed for the spread of trade, diplomacy, and education for much of Europe’s history.

How many countries in Africa speak French?

Did you know that France is not the most populous country to have French as their official language? That top spot belongs to the Democratic Republic of Congo. This nation of 77 million people is one of 21 African nations that list French as an official language. The complete list of French-speaking African nations is:

  1. Democratic Republic of Congo
  2. Madagascar
  3. Cameroon
  4. Côte d’Ivoire
  5. Niger
  6. Burkina Faso
  7. Mali
  8. Senegal
  9. Chad
  10. Guinea
  11. Rwanda
  12. Burundi
  13. Benin
  14. Togo
  15. Central African Republic
  16. Congo
  17. Gabon
  18. Equatorial Guinea
  19. Djibouti
  20. Comoros
  21. Seychelles

The wide geographic range and distribution of French language speakers in Africa reflects France’s colonial past and legacy. French is also a widely spoken and de facto language in many other African countries like Algeria and Burundi. Africa’s growing population means that French is also the continent’s fastest-growing language. French is still held as a language of education, science, and international trade.

this is how Many Countries Have French as Their Official Language in Africa - 21 countries

Oceania: Many Islands, One Unifying Tongue

The vast stretch of geography that stretches across the Pacific Ocean and into both western and eastern hemispheres only has one independent country where French is an official language:

  • Vanuatu

French is also spoken widely as an official language in French Polynesia, Wallis and Fatuna, and New Caledonia. However, these island nations are still part of France’s overseas administrative regions. That means that French is their official language because they are claimed as French territory.

 French is a unifying language in Vanuatu and the various French overseas administrative regions. Over 113 indigenous languages are spoken in the tiny islands of Vanuatu alone! The amazing dispersal of islands and countries across Oceania means that knowing French can be an immensely important language tool.

North America: Deep Francophone Roots

The French language is one of many European languages that have shaped the history and culture of North America. One country in particular comes to mind when wondering how many countries have French as their official language:

  • Canada

French is an official language in Canada. It is the world’s third most French-speaking country. It is an official language alongside English and the official language of the province of Quebec. Quebec is home to 85% of Canada’s French-speaking population. This is due to the region once being a territory of France.

                The role of the French language in Canada is very unique. It is a strictly enforced rule that official signs, printed materials, and spoken declarations are delivered in both English and French. Quebec has even attempted to become an independent nation from Canada because of its ties to French culture and history. Its neighboring provinces also feature large French-speaking populations.  

North America - Only 1 Country has French as an official language - Canada

The Caribbean: Uniquely Its Own

Only one nation in islands of the Caribbean lists French as an official language:

  • Haiti

All schools in Haiti conduct lessons in French. And one in every ten Haitians is a fluent French speaker. The language comes from the centuries of occupation of Haiti by France. Many modern Haitians now speak both French and Creole. Creole’s origins are shrouded in academic debate.

The Creole language emerged as a pidgin language that allowed French colonial authorities and African slaves to communicate during the colonial period. French was the language of the elite in Haiti during this time. Now, French and Creole share equal status as Haitian independence and a growing diaspora means that the two languages travel wherever its people go.

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