1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email

What is French? Facts and Figures about the French Language


2 of 5

French-speaking countries (official)
French is spoken officially in 33 countries - that is, there are 33 countries in which French is either the official language, or one of the official languages. This number is second only to English, which is spoken officially in 45 countries. French and English are the only languages spoken as a native language on 5 continents and the only languages taught in every country in the world.(3)

I. French is the official language of France and its overseas territories* as well as 14 other countries:
  1. Bénin
  2. Burkina Faso
  3. Central African Republic
  4. Congo (Democratic Republic of)
  5. Congo (Republic of)
  6. Côte d'Ivoire
  7. Gabon
  8. Guinea
  9. Luxembourg
  10. Mali
  11. Monaco
  12. Niger
  13. Sénégal
  14. Togo
*French territories - DOM-TOM
  • Départements d'outre-mer (DOM), also called Régions d'outre-mer (ROM)
       French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte,** La Réunion
  • Collectivités d'outre-mer (COM), formerly called Territoires d'outre mer (TOM)
       French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Saint Barthélemy (St. Barts),*** Saint Martin,*** Saint Pierre and Miquelon,** Wallis and Futuna
  • Territoires d'outre-mer (TOM)
       French southern & Antarctic lands
**These two were formerly Collectivités territoriales
***These became COM when they seceded from Guadeloupe in 2007

French is also the official language of certain regions of multilingual countries:
  • Belgium: Wallonie region
  • Canada: Québec province
  • Switzerland: Jura, Genève, Neuchâtel, and Vaud districts

II. French is one of the official languages in the following countries:
  • Belgium
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Chad
  • Channel Islands (Guernsey and Jersey)
  • Comoros
  • Djibouti
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Haiti (the other official language is French Creole)
  • Madagascar
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Switzerland
  • Vanuatu
The Canadian province of New Brunswick is officially bilingual: French and English.

If you have any comments, please post them on the forum.
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. French Language
  4. Travel and Culture
  5. Geography
  6. French-Speaking Countries

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.