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List of countries where English is an official language: Wikis


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The following is a list of sovereign states and territories where English is an official language. Most of these countries, such as India, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada and the Philippines, use English as an official language but not the sole official language (and usually not the main official language).

This list does not include countries where English is the dominant language, but does not have official status. In Australia, English is spoken by the vast majority of the population and is the only language used in government institutions, yet Australia does not have an official language. This is the same in the United States although many states and regions within the U.S. have English as an official language.

Map of nations using English as an official language or as the predominant language.

Almost all of these countries are current or former colonies or dependencies of the United Kingdom (see also British Empire). The notable exceptions are Madagascar and Rwanda which are former French and Belgian colonies respectively with English-speaking neighbors; Philippines, which became a U.S. dependent territory in 1898 by action of the Treaty of Paris; and Liberia which, after being privately colonized beginning in 1821 by the American Colonization Society, developed into the Republic of Liberia.

India's linguistic picture is complex. According to the Constitution of India, "Hindi in the Devanagari script" is the official language of the union[1] and English the 'subsidiary official language';[2] however, English is mandated for the authoritative texts of all federal laws and Supreme Court decisions, and (along with Hindi) is one of the two languages of the Indian Parliament. See Official languages of India.


Majority English Speaking Countries

It is quite common for major non English speaking countries and their nationals to assume that only the UK, USA, Canada[3] Ireland, New Zealand and Australia are the only major English speaking countries—especially when it comes to university admissions. This is wrong. Additional major English speaking countries are found mostly in the Caribbean, comprising of former British Colonies. These include, Antigua Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago. Though these islands are small, they are culturally and lingustically tied to the UK. Present overseas territories such as Anguilla, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos, Monsterrat, among others are also major English speaking countries. Other countries in Africa which, due to the influence of major regional languages, use English as their official language also fall into this category. Singapore in Asia is also a majority English speaking country but visitors should take note that 36% of the Singapore populace is made up of foreigners, many of whom do not speak English.

Sovereign states

Country Region Population1
 Antigua and Barbuda[4] North America 85,000
 The Bahamas[4] North America 331,000
 Barbados[5] North America 294,000
 Belize [6] Central America 288,000
 Botswana [6] Africa 1,882,000
 Cameroon[4] Africa 18,549,000
 Canada[4] North America 33,531,000
 Dominica[4] North America 73,000
 Fiji[4] Oceania 827,900
 The Gambia[4] Africa 1,709,000
 Ghana[4] Africa 23,478,000
 Grenada[4] North America 106,000
 Guyana[7] South America 738,000
 India [6] South Asia 1,143,540,000
 Ireland[4] Europe 4,517,800
 Jamaica[8] North America 2,714,000
 Kenya[4] Africa 37,538,000
 Kiribati[4] Oceania 95,000
 Lesotho[4] Africa 2,008,000
 Liberia[4] Africa 3,750,000
 Madagascar[4] Africa 19,683,000
 Malawi[9] Africa 13,925,000
 Malta[4] Europe 412,600
 Marshall Islands[4] Oceania 59,000
 Mauritius[4] Africa 1,262,000
 Micronesia[4] Oceania 111,000
 Namibia[4] Africa 2,074,000
 Nauru[10] Oceania 10,000
 New Zealand[4] Oceania 4,294,350
 Nigeria[4][11] Africa 148,093,000
 Pakistan[4] South Asia 165,449,000
 Palau [6] Oceania 20,000
 Papua New Guinea[12][13] Oceania 6,331,000
 Philippines[4][14] Asia 90,457,200
 Rwanda[4] Africa 9,725,000
 Saint Kitts and Nevis[15] North America 50,000
 Saint Lucia[4] North America 165,000
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines[16] North America 120,000
 Samoa[17] Oceania 188,359
 Seychelles[4] Africa 87,000
 Sierra Leone[4] Africa 5,866,000
 Singapore[18] Asia 4,839,400
 Solomon Islands[4] Oceania 506,992
 South Africa[19] Africa 47,850,700
 Sudan[4] Africa 38,560,000
 Swaziland[4] Africa 1,141,000
 Tanzania[4] Africa 40,454,000
 Tonga[20] Oceania 100,000
 Trinidad and Tobago[4] North America 1,333,000
 Tuvalu[6] Oceania 11,000
 Uganda[4] Africa 30,884,000
 United Kingdom[21] Europe 61,612,300
 Vanuatu[22] Oceania 226,000
 Zambia[4] Africa 11,922,000
 Zimbabwe[4] Africa 13,349,000

Non-sovereign entities

Entity Continent Population1
 American Samoa11 Oceania 67,000
 Anguilla[4] North America 13,000
 Bermuda9[4] North America 65,000
 British Virgin Islands[4] North America 23,000
 Cayman Islands [6] North America 47,000
 Christmas Island12[4] Oceania 1,508
 Cook Islands[4] Oceania 20,200
 Falkland Islands South America 3,000
 Gibraltar[4] Europe 29,257
 Guam4 Oceania 173,000
 Guernsey10 Europe 61,811
 Hong Kong2[4] Asia 6,985,200
 Isle of Man8 Europe 80,058
 Jersey6[4] Europe 89,300
 Montserrat[6] North America 5,900
 Netherlands Antilles N & S America 183,000
 Niue Oceania 1,600
 Norfolk Island[4] Oceania 1,828
 Northern Mariana Islands7 Oceania 84,000
 Pitcairn Islands13[4] Oceania 50
 Puerto Rico3 North America 3,991,000
 Saint Helena[6] (includes  Tristan da Cunha) Africa 6,600
 Tokelau [6] Oceania 1,400
 Turks and Caicos Islands[4] North America 26,000
 U.S. Virgin Islands5 North America 111,000

See also


^1 The population figures are based on the sources in List of countries by population, with information as of 23 January 2009 (UN estimates, et al.)
^2 Hong Kong is a former British colony (1843-1981), British-Dependent Territory (1981-1997) and special administrative region of the People's Republic of China (1997- present)
^3 Puerto Rico is, historically and geographically, connected to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean; Spanish is the main language of the majority of Puerto Ricans. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated United States territory referred to as a "Commonwealth"
^4 Guam is an organized unincorporated territory of the United States
^5 The US Virgin Islands is an insular area of the United States
^6 Jersey is a British Crown dependency
^7 The Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in political union with the United States
^8 Isle of Man is a British Crown dependency
^9 Bermuda is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom
^10 Guernsey is a British Crown dependency
^11 American Samoa is an unincorporated U.S. territory
^12 Christmas Island is an external territory of Australia
^13 Pitcairn Islands is a British overseas territory


  1. ^ "The Union: Official Language". National Informatics Centre (NIC). 2007. Retrieved June 24, 2007. 
  2. ^ "Notification No. 2/8/60-O.L. (Ministry of Home Affairs)". April 27, 1960. Retrieved July 4 2007. 
  3. ^ The French language is also major language in Canada,
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au Official language; "Field Listing - Languages". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2009-01-11. .
  5. ^ "Society". Government Information Service (Barbados). Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i English usage; "Field Listing - Languages". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2009-01-11. .
  7. ^ "National Profile". Government Information Agency (Guyana). Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  8. ^ The Constitution of Jamaica (section 20(6e) — implicit)
  9. ^ Malawi Investment Promotion Agency (August 2005). "Opportunities for investment and Trade in Malawi – the Warm Heart of Africa". Government of Malawi. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  10. ^ "Nauru". New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2009-01-18.  English and Nauruan are official.
  11. ^ "Country profile: Nigeria". BBC News. April 30, 2008. Retrieved November 10, 2008. 
  12. ^ "General Information on Papua New Guinea". Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  13. ^ "Country profile: Papua New Guinea". BBC News. 2008-11-28. 
  14. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Article XIV". Chanrobles Law Library. 1987. Retrieved October 27, 2007.  (See Article XIV, Section 7)
  15. ^ "Primary Schools". Government of St Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  16. ^ "St. Vincent and the Grenadines Profile". Agency for Public Information (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines). Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  17. ^ "Legislations: List of Acts and Ordinances". The Parliament of Samoa. Retrieved 2009-01-18.  Languages for official legislation are Samoan and English.
  18. ^ Wong, Aline (2000-11-24). "Education in a Multicultural Setting - The Singapore Experience". Ministry of Education, Government of Singapore. Retrieved 2009-01-18. "There are four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil." 
  19. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of South Africa". Constitutional Court of South Africa. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  20. ^ Kingdom of Tonga (March 2008). "The United Nations / Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council". Retrieved 2009-01-18.  English and Tongan are listed as official.
  21. ^ "United Kingdom; Key Facts". Commonwealth Secretariat. Retrieved April 23, 2008. 
  22. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu". Government of the Republic of Vanuatu. 1980-83. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 


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