Geographical distribution of French speakers

Proportion of French speakers by country in 2014:[1]
  0-9% Francophone
  10-19% Francophone
  20-29% Francophone
  30-39% Francophone
  40-49% Francophone
  50%+ Francophone

This article details the geographical distribution of speakers of the French language, regardless of the legislative status within the countries where it is spoken. French-based creoles are considered separate languages for the purpose of this article.

French became an international language in the Middle Ages, when the power of the Kingdom of France made it the second international language, alongside Latin. This status continued to grow into the 18th century, by which time French was the language of European courts and diplomacy. The importance of French began to wane in the early 20th century, when the spread of English due to the British Empire and the rise of the English-speaking United States to superpower status eroding its place as the language of diplomacy.[2]

According to a 2014 estimate by the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, 274 million people worldwide can speak French, of which 212 million use the language daily, while the remaining 62 million have learnt it as a foreign language.[3] Despite a decline in the number of learners of French in Europe, the overall number of speakers is rising, largely because of its presence in high-fertility African countries: of the 212 million who use French daily, 54.7% are living in Africa.[3]

Statistics

OIF figures

Population who can understand French in the EU

The following figures are from a 2014 report of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).[1] No distinctions are made between native speakers of French and those who learnt it as a foreign language, between different levels of mastery or how often the language is used in daily life.[4] For African countries where French is the main language of education, the number of French speakers is derived from the average number of schooling years.[4]

Country French speakers Percentage
 Albania 320,000 10%
 Algeria[note 1] 11,200,000 33%
 Andorra 57,000 70%
 Armenia 200,000 6%
 Austria 967,000 11%
 Belgium 8,088,000 72%
 Benin 3,848,000 35%
 Bulgaria 185,000 3%
 Burkina Faso 3,965,000 22%
 Burundi 897,000 8%
 Cambodia 423,000 3%
 Cameroon 9,334,000 40%
 Canada 10,470,000 29%
 Cape Verde 55,000 11%
 Central African Republic 1,410,000 29%
 Chad 1,714,000 13%
 Comoros 196,000 25%
 Congo-Brazzaville 2,717,000 58%
 Congo-Kinshasa 33,222,000 47%
 Côte d'Ivoire 7,218,000 34%
 Croatia 116,000 3%
 Cyprus 78,000 7%
 Czech Republic 189,000 2%
 Denmark 436,000 8%
 Djibouti 450,000 50%
 Dominica 7,000 10%
 Dominican Republic 153,000 1%
 Egypt 2,800,000 3%
 Equatorial Guinea 231,000 29%
 Estonia 19,000 1%
 Finland 519,000 10%
 France (Metropolitan) 62,968,000 97%
 Gabon 1,070,000 61%
 Georgia 18,000 0.4%
 Germany 11,943,000 14%
 Ghana 219,000 0.8%
 Greece 781,000 7%
 Guinea 2,974,000 24%
 Guinea-Bissau 275,000 15%
 Haiti 4,454,000 42%
 Hungary 117,000 1%
 Ireland 587,000 12%
 Israel 300,000 4%
 Italy 9,394,000 15%
 Laos 190,000 3%
 Latvia 26,000 1%
 Lebanon 1,920,000 38%
 Lithuania 75,000 2%
 Luxembourg 521,000 96%
 Macedonia 237,000 11%
 Madagascar 4,847,000 20%
 Mali 2,744,000 17%
 Malta 55,000 13%
 Mauritania 529,000 13%
 Mauritius 911,000 73%
 Moldova 83,000 2%
 Monaco 30,000 79%
 Montenegro 13,000 2%
 Morocco 10,657,000 31%
 Mozambique 81,000 0.3%
 Netherlands 3,614,000 21%
 Niger 2,439,000 13%
 Norway 324,000 6%
 Poland 1,034,000 3%
 Portugal 2,423,000 23%
 Qatar 100,000 4%
 Romania 1,897,000 9%
 Rwanda 700,000 6%
 Saint Lucia 3,000 2%
 Sao Tome and Principe 41,000 20%
 Senegal 4,277,000 29%
 Serbia 319,000 3%
 Seychelles 50,000 53%
 Slovakia 109,000 2%
 Slovenia 79,000 4%
 Spain 5,022,000 11%
 Sweden 1,074,000 11%
  Switzerland 5,402,000 66%
 Thailand 556,000 0.8%
 Togo 2,787,000 39%
 Tunisia 6,090,000 54%
 Ukraine 54,000 0.1%
 United Arab Emirates 100,000 1%
 United Kingdom 10,520,000 16%
 United States of America 2,100,000 0.7%
 Uruguay 5,000 0.1%
 Vanuatu 83,000 31%
 Vietnam 654,000 0.7%

Other territories

Territory Country French speakers Percentage Year Reference
French Community of Belgium  Belgium 4,658,000 98% 2014 [5]
New Brunswick  Canada 320,000 42% 2014 [5]
Québec  Canada 7,666,000 93% 2014 [5]
French Guiana  France 162,000 62% 2015 [6]
French Polynesia  France 276,000 98% 2015 [6]
Guadeloupe  France 395,000 84% 2015 [6]
Martinique  France 329,000 81% 2015 [6]
Mayotte  France 147,000 63% 2015 [6]
New Caledonia  France 260,000 99% 2015 [6]
Réunion  France 788,000 88% 2015 [6]
Saint Pierre and Miquelon  France 6,000 100% 2015 [6]
Wallis and Futuna  France 11,000 83% 2015 [6]
Aosta Valley  Italy 72,000 60% 2001 [5]

Native speakers

It is estimated that 80 million people worldwide speak French as a main or first language.[7]

Country L1 speakers Percentage Year Reference
 Algeria[note 2] 10,200 0.03% 2012 [8]
 Andorra[note 2] 4,200 5.2% 2005 [8]
 Australia 57,739 0.3% 2011 [9]
 Austria 10,190 0.1% 2001 [10]
 Belgium[note 3] 4,194,000 38% 2012 [11]
 Benin[note 2] 16,700 0.3% 1993 [8]
 Burkina Faso 170,047 1.3% 2006 [12]
 Burundi[note 2] 2,200 0.03% 2004 [8]
 Cambodia 873 0.01% 2008 [10]
 Canada 7,298,180 22.0% 2011 [13]
 Central African Republic[note 2] 9,000 0.3% 1996 [8]
 Chad[note 2] 3,000 0.05% 1993 [8]
 Comoros[note 2] 1,700 0.4% 1993 [8]
 Congo-Brazzaville[note 2] 28,000 1.1% 1993 [8]
 Cote d'Ivoire[note 2] 17,500 0.2% 1988 [8]
 Cyprus 1,139 0.1% 2011 [10]
 Czech Republic[note 4] 2,056 0.02% 2011 [14]
 Djibouti[note 2] 10,200 1.3% 2006 [8]
 Estonia 124 0.01% 2011 [15]
 Finland 4,203 0.076% 2017 [16]
 France[note 5] 60,674,000 93% 2012 [11]
 Gabon[note 2] 37,500 3.7% 1993 [8]
 Georgia[note 6] 28 0.001% 2002 [6]
 Hungary[note 7] 18,943 0.2% 2011 [17]
 India[note 2] 10,000 0.001% 2008 [8]
 Lebanon[note 2] 16,600 0.4% 2004 [8]
 Liechtenstein 39 0.1% 2010 [10]
 Lithuania 95 0.003% 2011 [10]
 Luxembourg 57,633 12.1% 2013 [18]
 Madagascar[note 2] 18,000 0.1% 1993 [8]
 Mali 7,000 0.09% 1998 [19]
 Mauritius[note 8] 44,400 3.6% 2011 [20]
 Monaco 16,500 45% 2014 [8]
 Morocco[note 2] 80,000 0.3% 2007 [8]
 Niger[note 2] 6,000 0.1% 1993 [8]
 Poland[note 9] 3,488 0.01% 2011 [21]
 Rwanda[note 2] 2,300 0.03% 2004 [8]
 Senegal 59,605 0.6% 2002 [22]
 Seychelles[note 10] 650 0.7% 2010 [23]
 South Africa 9,268 0.02% 1996 [10]
  Switzerland 1,791,115 22.5% 2013 [24]
 Togo[note 2] 3,000 0.1% 1993 [8]
 Tunisia[note 2] 11,000 0.1% 1993 [8]
 United Kingdom (England and Wales) 147,000 0.3% 2011 [25]
 United States 1,307,742 0.5% 2013 [26]
 Vanuatu[note 11] 1,400 0.6% 2009 [27]

Subnational territories

Territory Country L1 speakers Percentage Year Reference
Flanders  Belgium 367,000 5.9% 2009 [28]
New Brunswick  Canada 240,455 32.5% 2011 [29]
Nova Scotia  Canada 31,110 3.4% 2011 [29]
Ontario  Canada 561,155 4.4% 2011 [29]
Quebec  Canada 6,231,600 79.7% 2011 [30]
Manitoba  Canada 51,280 4.3% 2011 [29]
Alberta  Canada 68 435 2.1% 2011 [29]
British Columbia  Canada 63 625 1.4% 2011 [29]
Mayotte[note 12]  France 21,000 10% 2014 [31]
Réunion[note 13]  France 65,700 8% 2010 [32]
Puducherry[note 14]  India 1,600 0.26% 1982 [33]
Aosta Valley[note 15]  Italy 1,200 1% 2003 [34]
Romandie   Switzerland 1,606,029 83.6% 2013 [35]
Louisiana  United States 119,931 2.8% 2013 [36]
Maine  United States 47,066 3.73% 2012 [36]
Massachusetts  United States 65,874 1.06% 2012 [36]
Connecticut  United States 35,565 1.05% 2012 [36]
New Hampshire  United States 24,697 1.98% 2012 [36]
Vermont  United States 9,543 1.61% 2012 [36]
Rhode Island  United States 11,477 1.15% 2012 [36]