French-Speaking Countries in the World

Do you know how many people speak French & in which countries it is spoken? Let’s find out!

We all know French is spoken in many places far and wide across the world, including some unexpected ones. But are you aware of how many countries you can visit when you learn French?

Whether studying French or planning to pursue this language, you may be curious to know the number of nations where French is spoken.

That way, you’ll more easily know the true extent of its widespread popularity and the global importance of the French language.

Knowing the French-speaking population and where it is useful gives you a clear picture of its benefits. It can help you plan your next adventure and career path and immerse yourself in the French language and culture.

Let’s dive right in and explore our list of French-speaking countries and French speakers. Read along!

The French-speaking population

French is among the most used and widely spoken languages worldwide. 

Several nations use this language today because of French colonization from the 16th century onward.

French-speaking countries are those where French is an official or widely spoken language. These nations are spread across five continents. Still, the significant presence is mainly in Africa, Europe, and North America.

French language speaking countries

That is how the term “Francophone” came into existence. It refers to speakers or populations who speak French as a native tongue or second language.

The Francophonie, an international organization, brings together countries where French is spoken and promotes cultural and linguistic diversity.

It is the official language of various international organizations. E.g., FIFA, NATO, WTO, the United Nations, the European Union (EU), UNESCO, the International Court of Justice, the International Red Cross, the African Union (AU), and the International Olympic Committee. This list is endless!

The French language and culture have significantly affected the world, making the French-speaking nations a leading player in global affairs.

Learning French has many advantages. It ranges from enhancing cognitive functions to business and travel to jobs and careers.

The question that naturally comes to mind is: How many people speak French, and which country recognizes it? Let’s uncover the facts.

How many people speak French across the globe?

The French language has intrigued millions of people worldwide. That is why it became the second-most studied language. Many learners learn to expand their cultural horizons or improve their career opportunities in French.

As per the 2022 report of the Organization International of Francophonie (OIF), the number of French speakers is 321 million. As stated by Ethnologue, the number is 309 million.

This number includes 81 million people who speak French as their first language or mother tongue.

Over 200 million are fluent second-language speakers, partial speakers, and those who have learned French as a foreign language. The number also comprises speakers of various French dialects and creoles.

While the precise figure may vary, it is still pretty big.

Of the 212 million population who use French daily, 54.7% live in Africa. Nearly 52% of native French speakers live in Africa and the Middle East.

Approximately 12% of the European population speaks French, the second most widely used language in the EU, after German.

Around 39% of the francophone population lives in Europe. After France, with over 95% French speakers, Belgium has the largest French-speaking population at 45%, followed by Switzerland with 20%.

The Caribbean and America represent 7.66%, while Asia and Oceania have 1.1%.

77% of Quebec’s population is native French speakers, and 95% speak French as their first or second language.

By 2050, it is estimated that over 700 million people will speak French, with 80% of them in Africa.

French speaking population

Francophone nations across the world

French is spoken as either an official or a noteworthy language in many nations across the globe. It holds various degrees of influence in different regions.

French is not only a language but also a cultural and historical connection across the globe. From Europe to Africa, the Americas to Asia, French-speaking places contribute to the richness and diversity of the language.

The community of French-speaking countries is often referred to as the Francophonie. Below, I summarize such areas.

1. French-speaking countries in Europe

Around 20% of the European Union’s population speaks French. It is the third most commonly spoken, most widely used native language. It is also the second-most widely taught tongue in Europe after English.

France: The birthplace of the French language and a significant global economic and cultural power.

France is the largest French-speaking country in Europe. French is the only official language of France and is spoken by over 95% of the population. Of that, nearly 87% speak as their mother tongue.

The Académie française has been the official authority on the French language in France since 1635. It specifies the usage of grammar and vocabulary in the French language.

Belgium: French is one of the three official languages of Belgium, along with German and Dutch. It is the dominant language in the Brussels-Capital Region and the southern region of Wallonia.

French (Belgian variant) is the second-most spoken primary language of Belgium. Almost 45% of the population knows it to varying degrees.

Switzerland: The French language (swiss variant) is spoken in Romandy, the western part of Switzerland. This includes areas like Geneva, Vaud, Jura, and Neuchâtel.

In 2020, 2 million people, or 23% of the population in Switzerland, speak French as their primary language. Overall, 28% often use French at work.

Luxembourg: The country authorized three languages — French, German, and the national language, Luxembourgish.

Approx. 98% of the population speaks French, including 20% natives, and remaining as a second, third, or partial language.

Monaco: Monaco is a small nation between France and Italy on the Mediterranean Sea. French is the country’s official language and is spoken by over 90% of the residents.

Other European countries: A large population of French speakers across Europe exists. For instance, Saarland in Germany, Aosta Valley in Italy, the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands, and Andorra, to name a few.

There is also a sizeable number of French speakers in Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Norway, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Finland, Sweden, etc.

Francophone countries

2. French speakers in Africa & Middle-east

French is commonly spoken in many African countries because of the historical impact of French colonialism.

While Africa has more French speakers than any other continent, most speak as a second or third language. The French language is helpful in the 31 Francophone countries of Africa.

Indigenous African languages have influenced African French to a large extent. As an outcome, it has deviated from standard French. Most are Creoles, a mix of French and local languages and dialects.

Algeria: French is not an official language. Yet, it is a lingua franca widely used in Algeria’s media, government, and education. As per official figures in 2008, 11.2 million citizens could read and write in French.

Benin: Benin is a nation with remarkable linguistic diversity. The official tongue is French, but most local tongues are accepted as national languages. As of 2023, 4.6 million people out of 13.7 speak French.

Burkina Faso: French is the official and primary language for laws, public services, politics, press, and administration. Burkina Faso has a population of 24 million, with around 20% speaking French. 

Burundi: The official languages of Burundi are Kirundi, English, and French. Almost everyone speaks Kirundi, while a small fraction of 10% are skilled in French.

Cameroon: Cameroon is a multilingual country with over 250 languages and dialects. Still, French and English are the two official languages. With a population of 30 million and almost half French speakers, it is home to over a million French speakers.

Central African Republic: The Central African Republic has two official languages: French and Sango, a creole developed in the local Ngbandi. In 2022, 28.6% of the population (1.4 million) understands French.

Chad: The official languages of Chad are Arabic and French, but over 100 other languages are spoken in the land. Nearly 13% of the 18 million population comprehends French.

Comoros: Comoros has Arabic, French, and Shikomori as approved languages. French is the administrative and the language of most non-Quranic formal education. As per the 2018 OIF report, around 25.97% of the population, approximately 216,174 people, can speak French.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: French is the official language of government and education functions in this diverse, multilingual nation. Four other national languages are Lingala, Swahili, Kikongo, and Tshiluba.

As per a 2021 survey, 74% of Congolese people use French as the most common language for communication. The figure may not be authentic. Yet, DR Congo is one of the two nations with the highest number of French speakers, along with France.

Djibouti: Djibouti is a multilingual country with two official languages — Arabic and French. The primary language of instruction is French, passed down from the era of European colonization. While half of the population knows this language, only 2% speak it as a first language.

Equatorial Guinea: Spanish, Portuguese, and French are the three official languages of Equatorial Guinea. French is not standard here except in some border towns, despite its approved status.

Gabon: The only official language of the country is French. Around 80% of the population is believed to speak French, and about 30% of the inhabitants in Libreville are native French speakers.

Guinea: The Republic of Guinea is a multilingual nation with dozens of languages. French is the authorized language of Guinea and is used for communication in schools, media, and government work.

Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire): The Ivory Coast is another Francophone African yet a multilingual country. French is the official language and is extensively used in administration and education. As of 2023, around 9.7 million (33.61%) of 28.9 million inhabitants speak French.

Lebanon: French is one of the official languages, and it is broadly used in education and government. Nearly 40% of Lebanese are considered Francophone, and 15% are “partial francophone.” 70% of secondary schools use French as a second language of teaching.

Francophone Africa

Madagascar: French is one of the official languages, alongside Malagasy. They have a population of 29 million, and around 26% (7.7 million) speak French.

Mali: French was the official language, but since July 2023, it has become a working language. Its population is 22 million, with around 15% speaking French.

Mauritania: Mauritania is part of Francophone and uses French because of colonial influence. According to Ethnologue, there are 705,500 French speakers, and it serves as a de facto national working language.

Mauritius: French is a de facto national, and the common languages of Mauritius are used in governance and education alongside English. As per OIF, 72.7% of Mauritians were French speakers in 2005.

Morocco: French is Morocco’s primary language of culture, commerce and economics, sciences, education, government, and medicine. It is a member of the Francophonie.

Niger: French is the official, along with ten national languages. Around 13% are French-speaking people, i.e., over 2.5 million.

Rwanda: Belgium introduced French in 1916, and it continued as an official language even after independence in 1962. As per the 2012 census, 5.83% of the residents speak French.

Senegal: French is the endorsed language, and it is used in government and education. French is used as the medium of instruction in most academic centers. Overall, French speakers counted 26% of the population in 2022.

Seychelles: Seychelles is another French-speaking African nation with three official languages — French, English, and Seychellois, a French-based Creole. Almost everyone speaks Seychelles as their native tongue, a mix of French, with a small number knowing standard French.

Togo: As per Ethnologue, 39 distinct languages exist in Togo, but French is the only official language. Of 9.1 million people, 3.7 million (40.94%) express themselves in French as of 2023.

Tunisia: French has no official status like rabic but is commonly used in academics, business, and the press. In 2010, about 64% of Tunisia’s population, around 6,639,000 people, could speak French.

3. French in North and South America

Canada: French is one of Canada’s two official languages.

Most French speakers live in Quebec, the sole province where French is the majority and the only official language. It is home to over 8 million French speakers, including 6.5 million natives. Montreal is the fourth-largest Francophone city in the world.

There is also a sizeable number of French speakers in the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick, and other regions. As a result, about 23% of the population of 38 million is conversant in French.

The ability to speak French is a fantastic way to boost your chances of gaining Canadian permanent residency. You can take one of the variants of TCF Canada or TEF Quebec to improve your CRS scores.

The United States: French is the fourth most common language here in the USA. This is 2.2 million native and non-native speakers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Haiti: It has two official languages — French and Haitian Creole. French is the primary written and administratively allowed language and the press’s dominant language. It is spoken by 42% of the Haitian population.

Countries with French as official language

4. French Overseas Department

French is also official in the different French territories across the world. This includes Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Barthélemy, and St. Barts in the Caribbean Islands.

Mayotte and Réunion are in Africa, whereas Saint Pierre and Miquelon are in North America. On the other hand, Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia, and New Caledonia are in the Oceanic region.

French Guiana is an overseas department in France that boasts a unique blend of French and South American culture. With French as its official language, you can indulge in the country’s rich history while experiencing the natural beauty of the Amazon rainforest.

5. French in Oceanic

French is spoken even all the way in Oceania!

Bislama is the official language of the Republic of Vanuatu. French and English are the two official and principal languages of education. Nearly 30% speak French, mainly as a second language.

6. French in other parts of the world

Besides these countries, because of past colonial influences, French is also spoken as a second or third language in many other parts of the world, particularly in Africa.

Some people also speak Indian French in former colonies of Mahe, Pondicherry, Yanam, Karaikal, and Chandernagore in South India. 

This French dialect is affected by Dravidian languages like Telugu (Yanam Telugu), Malayalam (Mahe Malayalam), and Tamil (Pondicherry Tamil). The number of speakers is low.

Thousands of expatriates from France and other French-speaking regions are also found in other African and Middle Eastern countries, especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, etc.

Final Words on French-Speaking Nations

French speakers in the world

French is one of the two languages spoken on all five continents. Its global influence extends beyond its European origins. In fact, there are more speakers in Africa than elsewhere.

The spread of the French language is often linked to historical factors, including colonization, trade, and diplomatic relationships. It remains an influential language in international diplomacy, business, and culture.

French is a valuable language to learn, thanks to several Francophone nations. It can open up a window of opportunities for you — academically, personally, and professionally. So why not start learning today?

Check our time-tested and practical offline and online French courses developed for DELF, DALF, Telc, TCF, and TEF Canada classes.

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Vikash Gupta
Vikash Gupta

I’m a linguist, lifelong learner, blogger, and fun-loving guy. I write at,,,,,, and

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