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The French-Speaking World

Considered by many as the language of culture and diplomacy, the French language is widely spoken in the world as consequence of colonial era following the French Revolution. The list below is an prime example of the widespread influence of Victor Hugo’s language:


Country Languages (%)
Algeria Arabic (official), French, Berber dialects
Andorra Catalan (official), French, Castilian, Portuguese
Argentina Spanish (official), Italian, English, German, French
Belgium Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)
Benin French (official), Fon and Yoruba (most common vernaculars in south), tribal languages (at least six major ones in north)
Burkina Faso French (official), native African languages belonging to Sudanic family spoken by 90% of the population
Burundi Kirundi (official), French (official), Swahili (along Lake Tanganyika and in the Bujumbura area)
Cambodia Khmer (official) 95%, French, English
Cameroon 24 major African language groups, English (official), French (official)
Canada English (official) 59.3%, French (official) 23.2%, other 17.5%
Central African Republic French (official), Sangho (lingua franca and national language), tribal languages
Chad French (official), Arabic (official), Sara (in south), more than 120 different languages and dialects
Comoros Arabic (official), French (official), Shikomoro (a blend of Swahili and Arabic)
Congo, Democratic Republic of the French (official), Lingala (a lingua franca trade language), Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba
Congo, Republic of the French (official), Lingala and Monokutuba (lingua franca trade languages), many local languages and dialects (of which Kikongo is the most widespread)
Cote d'Ivoire French (official), 60 native dialects with Dioula the most widely spoken
Djibouti French (official), Arabic (official), Somali, Afar
Dominica English (official), French patois
Egypt Arabic (official), English and French widely understood by educated classes
Equatorial Guinea Spanish 67.6% (official), other 32.4% (includes French (official), Fang, Bubi) (1994 census)
European Union Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Gaelic, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish

note: only official languages are listed; German, the major language of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, is the most widely spoken mother tongue - over 19% of the EU population; English is the most widely spoken language - about 49% of the EU population is conversant with it (2007)
France French 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish)
overseas departments:French, Creole patois
French Polynesia French 61.1% (official), Polynesian 31.4% (official), Asian languages 1.2%, other 0.3%, unspecified 6% (2002 census)
Gabon French (official), Fang, Myene, Nzebi, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi
Greece Greek 99% (official), other 1% (includes English and French)
Grenada English (official), French patois
Guernsey English, French, Norman-French dialect spoken in country districts
Guinea French (official); note - each ethnic group has its own language
Haiti French (official), Creole (official)
Holy See (Vatican City) Italian, Latin, French, various other languages
Italy Italian (official), German (parts of Trentino-Alto Adige region are predominantly German speaking), French (small French-speaking minority in Valle d'Aosta region), Slovene (Slovene-speaking minority in the Trieste-Gorizia area)
Laos Lao (official), French, English, and various ethnic languages
Lebanon Arabic (official), French, English, Armenian
Luxembourg Luxembourgish (national language), German (administrative language), French (administrative language)
Madagascar English (official), French (official), Malagasy (official)
Mali French (official), Bambara 80%, numerous African languages
Mauritania Arabic (official and national), Pulaar, Soninke, Wolof (all national languages), French, Hassaniya
Mauritius Creole 80.5%, Bhojpuri 12.1%, French 3.4%, English (official; spoken by less than 1% of the population), other 3.7%, unspecified 0.3% (2000 census)
Mayotte Mahorian (a Swahili dialect), French (official language) spoken by 35% of the population
Monaco French (official), English, Italian, Monegasque
Morocco Arabic (official), Berber dialects, French often the language of business, government, and diplomacy
New Caledonia French (official), 33 Melanesian-Polynesian dialects
Niger French (official), Hausa, Djerma
Rwanda Kinyarwanda (official) universal Bantu vernacular, French (official), English (official), Kiswahili (Swahili) used in commercial centers
Saint Barthelemy French (primary), English
Saint Lucia English (official), French patois
Saint Martin French (official language), English, Dutch, French Patois, Spanish, Papiamento (dialect of Netherlands Antilles)
Saint Pierre and Miquelon French (official)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines English, French patois
Senegal French (official), Wolof, Pulaar, Jola, Mandinka
Switzerland German (official) 63.7%, French (official) 20.4%, Italian (official) 6.5%, Serbo-Croatian 1.5%, Albanian 1.3%, Portuguese 1.2%, Spanish 1.1%, English 1%, Romansch (official) 0.5%, other 2.8% (2000 census)

note: German, French, Italian, and Romansch are all national and official languages
Syria Arabic (official); Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian widely understood; French, English somewhat understood
Togo French (official and the language of commerce), Ewe and Mina (the two major African languages in the south), Kabye (sometimes spelled Kabiye) and Dagomba (the two major African languages in the north)
Trinidad and Tobago English (official), Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), French, Spanish, Chinese
Tunisia Arabic (official and one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce)
Vanuatu local languages (more than 100) 72.6%, pidgin (known as Bislama or Bichelama) 23.1%, English 1.9%, French 1.4%, other 0.3%, unspecified 0.7% (1999 Census)
Vietnam Vietnamese (official), English (increasingly favored as a second language), some French, Chinese, and Khmer; mountain area languages (Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian)
Virgin Islands English 74.7%, Spanish or Spanish Creole 16.8%, French or French Creole 6.6%, other 1.9% (2000 census)
Wallis and Futuna Wallisian 58.9% (indigenous Polynesian language), Futunian 30.1%, French 10.8%, other 0.2% (2003 census)
World Mandarin Chinese 13.22%, Spanish 4.88%, English 4.68%, Arabic 3.12%, Hindi 2.74%, Portuguese 2.69%, Bengali 2.59%, Russian 2.2%, Japanese 1.85%, Standard German 1.44%, French 1.2% (2005 est.)

note: percents are for "first language" speakers only

Source: CIA – The World Factbook