If you meet a French speaker, you can immediately think that he is a French person, but sometimes that won’t be the case!
Indeed, many countries speak French and thus form the Francophonie (the French-speaking world)!
You certainly know some French-speaking countries like France and Canada, of course, and perhaps Switzerland and Belgium… but do you know all the others?
There are nearly 300 million people who speak French in the world, the francophones (French speakers), according to the OIF, the International Organization of La Francophonie.
The countries that use French daily are cited in the report La langue française dans le monde, which the organization publishes every 4 years.
While some of these French-speaking countries have French as an official or co-official language, others use it fluently as a cultural language.
Discover these countries where you can go to practice your French!
The place of the French language in the world
If you are learning French, you surely have a very good reason for doing so!
Maybe you just love the beauty of this language, or maybe you know that it can be of great use to you in your professional as well as personal life.
French is indeed the 5th most spoken language worldwide, after English, Mandarin, Hindi, and Spanish.
It is also one of the most used languages on the Internet!
The French language is a second language for more than 2/3 of Francophones (200 million), and it is the mother tongue of “only” 77 million people.
Maybe you had French lessons at school?
It is not surprising, because the French language is the second language taught in school after English!
Enfin (Finally), don’t forget that French is also the official language of the Olympic Games!
You can hear the announcements during the games in French, then in English, and finally in the language of the host country.
La Francophonie: French as an official language
French is the official language of 32 states and governments!
You may not have known it, but half of these territories use it as the only official language, and the other half use it as a co-official language, along with other languages.
FRENCH, THE ONLY OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
If you want to go to work or study in certain countries, you may be surprised that they ask you for your French level.
It is especially the case in Quebec, where unlike other Canadian provinces, it is important to speak French to live there.
You may indeed have to take French tests to settle there!
Here is a list of the 16 French-speaking countries or regions where French is the only official language:
- in Belgium, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation 🇧🇪 (Western Europe)
- Benin 🇧🇯 (West Africa)
- Burkina Faso 🇧🇫 (West Africa)
- in Canada, Quebec 🇨🇦 (North America)
- Congo 🇨🇬 (Central Africa)
- Ivory Coast 🇨🇮 (West Africa)
- France 🇫🇷 (Western Europe)
- Gabon 🇬🇦 (Central Africa)
- Guinea 🇬🇳 (West Africa)
- Mali 🇲🇱 (West Africa)
- Monaco 🇲🇨 (Western Europe)
- Niger 🇳🇪 (West Africa)
- the Democratic Republic of the Congo 🇨🇩 (Central Africa)
- Senegal 🇸🇳 (West Africa)
- in Switzerland, French-speaking Switzerland 🇨🇭 (Western Europe)
- Togo 🇹🇬 (West Africa)
FRENCH, CO-OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
The French language can also be an official language in territories that use, at the same time, other official languages .
These languages will therefore have the status of co-official languages.
These territories can be bilingual countries or regions like the best known, Canada, but also multilingual territories!
Anyway, by mastering French and English, you will be sure to communicate well in these countries!
Here is a list of the 16 French-speaking countries or regions where French is one of the co-official languages:
- Burundi 🇧🇮 (East Africa)
- Belgium 🇧🇪 (Western Europe)
- Cameroon 🇨🇲 (Central Africa)
- Canada (Government of Canada, New Brunswick, Nunavut, Ontario, Northwest Territories, Yukon) 🇨🇦 (North America)
- the Central African Republic 🇨🇫 (Central Africa)
- the Comoros 🇰🇲 (Southern Africa)
- Djibouti 🇩🇯 (East Africa)
- Equatorial Guinea 🇬🇶 (Central Africa)
- Haiti 🇭🇹 (America, West Indies)
- Luxembourg 🇱🇺 (Western Europe)
- Madagascar 🇲🇬 (East Africa)
- Rwanda 🇷🇼 (East Africa)
- Seychelles 🇸🇨 (East Africa)
- Switzerland 🇨🇭 (Western Europe)
- Chad 🇹🇩 (Central Africa)
- Vanuatu 🇻🇺 (Oceania, Melanesia)
La Francophonie: French as a language of culture
French is also a cultural language, present in some countries which do not use it as an official language.
These countries are often territories where the French influence is very present, but which have also known how to appropriate this language and integrate it into their own culture!
Speaking French in these countries can therefore be a great advantage, even if the ideal is of course to master their official language.
Here is a list of countries where French is used as a language of culture:
- Algeria 🇩🇿 (North Africa)
- Andorra 🇦🇩 (Southern Europe)
- Lebanon 🇱🇧 (West Asia, Middle East)
- Morocco 🇲🇦 (North Africa)
- Mauritius 🇲🇺 (East Africa)
- Mauritania 🇲🇷 (West Africa)
- Tunisia 🇹🇳 (North Africa)
The francophonie in the world
Now that you have seen the French-speaking countries according to their status, here is an overview by geographical area:
The majority of Francophones in the world are located in Africa, with nearly half (47.7%) of Francophones present in African countries.
The other large part of French speakers is naturally found in Europe, with 45.7% of French speakers.
The rest of the francophonie is located in America (6%) and the Asia-Oceania part (0.6%).
Many countries (and maybe even yours!) are implementing various educational and cultural programs, among others, to help the development of the French language around the world.
You can also consult this page and see if your country is one of the 88 member states and governments of the International Organization of La Francophonie.
You now know the principal countries where people speak French daily.
French is a language with the number of speakers increasing day by day, and you can find French speakers, including French expatriates, in almost every country.
There are, of course, other countries where you can hear French spoken, for example, countries close to France such as Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain or even the United States!
I hope this article maybe helps you choose which country you would like to study, work, live in or just want to visit!
Do you come from a French-speaking country?
Have you ever been to a French-speaking country?
Do you know of other countries where people speak French?
Tell me about your link with French-speaking countries in the comments!