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.[further explanation needed] 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 2018 report of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).[4] 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.[5] 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.[5]

Country French speakers % Basis of projection
 Albania 61,580 2.10% Adult Education Survey
 Algeria 13,803,847 32.86% 2008 census
 Andorra 53,959 70.12%
 Armenia 9,976 0.34% 2011 census
 Austria 1,131,644 12.93% Adult Education Survey
 Belgium 8,678,247 75.47% Adult Education Survey
 Benin 3,820,813 33.27% 2013 census
 Bosnia-Herzegovina 28,048 0.80% Adult Education Survey
 Bulgaria 163,835 2.33% Adult Education Survey
 Burkina Faso 4,752,162 24.06% Demographic and Health Survey
 Burundi 939,657 8.38% 2008 census
 Cambodia 438,635 2.70% 2010 OIF report
 Cameroon 10,006,474 40.55% 2005 census
 Canada 10,981,937 29.47% 2016 census
 Cape Verde 59,926 10.83% OIF survey
 Central African Republic 1,343,435 28.36% Demographic and Health Survey
 Chad 1,957,478 12.75% 2009 census
 Comoros 216,174 25.97% 2003 census
 Congo-Brazzaville 3,182,255 58.93% Demographic and Health Survey
 Congo-Kinshasa 42,533,172 50.63% Demographic and Health Survey
 Côte d'Ivoire 8,259,265 33.16% 2013 census
 Croatia 97,495 2.34% Adult Education Survey
 Cyprus 77,995 6.56% Adult Education Survey
 Czech Republic 235,160 2.21% Adult Education Survey
 Denmark 431,634 7.50% Adult Education Survey
 Djibouti 485,704 50% OIF survey
 Dominica 7,000 10%
 Dominican Republic 156,715 1.44% 2014 OIF report
 Egypt 3,000,000 3.02% OIF survey
 Equatorial Guinea 379,847 28.91% OIF survey
 Estonia 18,948 1.45% 2011 census
 Finland 435,601 7.86% Adult Education Survey
 France (Metropolitan) 63,678,077 97.16% Adult Education Survey
 Gabon 1,367,502 66.14% 2003 census, DHS, OIF survey
 Georgia 16,410 0.42% 2002 census
 Germany 12,242,129 14.88% Adult Education Survey
 Ghana 243,868 0.83% 2010 census
 Greece 802,802 7.21% Adult Education Survey
 Guinea 3,318,661 25.43% Demographic and Health Survey
 Guinea-Bissau 293,338 15.38% OIF survey
 Haiti 4,667,437 42% 2010 OIF report
 Hungary 114,328 1.18% 2011 census
 Ireland 598,339 12.46% Adult Education Survey
 Israel 500,000 5.92% OIF survey
 Italy 11,519,521 19.43% Adult Education Survey
 Laos 190,000 2.73% OIF survey
 Latvia 21,575 1.12% Adult Education Survey
 Lebanon 2,314,924 37.99% 2010 OIF report
 Lithuania 68,186 2.37% Adult Education Survey
 Luxembourg 543,104 92.00% Adult Education Survey
 Macedonia 42,737 2.05% Adult Education Survey
 Madagascar 5,252,562 20% OIF survey
 Mali 3,236,698 16.94% 2009 census
 Malta 56,908 13.17% Adult Education Survey
 Mauritania 603,787 13.30% 2013 census
 Mauritius 921,431 72.65% OIF survey
 Mexico 30,000 0.02% Rivard 2016
 Moldova 54,958 1.36% 2014 census
 Monaco 37,695 96.91% OIF survey
 Montenegro 12,899 2.05% 2011 census
 Morocco 12,729,432 35.17% 2014 census
 Mozambique 91,586 0.3% OIF survey
 Netherlands 3,228,985 18.90% Adult Education Survey
 Niger 2,839,671 12.73% 2012 census
 Norway 162,933 3.04% Adult Education Survey
 Poland 948,612 2.49% Adult Education Survey
 Portugal 2,591,538 25.18% Adult Education Survey
 Qatar 114,531 4.25%
 Romania 2,336,689 11.93% Adult Education Survey
 Russia 619,048 0.43% 2010 census
 Rwanda 724,243 5.79% 2012 census
 Saint Lucia 2,911 1.62% 2010 OIF report
 Sao Tome and Principe 42,181 20.20% OIF survey
 Senegal 4,214,619 25.87% 2013 census
 Serbia 250,727 3.60% Adult Education Survey
 Seychelles 50,475 53% OIF survey
 Slovakia 114,028 2.09% Adult Education Survey
 Slovenia 49,970 2.40% Adult Education Survey
 Spain 5,443,391 11.73% Adult Education Survey
 Sweden 825,409 8.27% Adult Education Survey
  Switzerland 5,734,276 67.11% Adult Education Survey
 Thailand 567,302 0.82% 2010 OIF report
 Togo 3,217,071 40.26% 2010 census
 Tunisia 6,081,277 52.16% 2014 census
 Ukraine 52,811 0.12% 2001 census
 United Arab Emirates 250,000 2.62%
 United Kingdom 10,930,735 16.42% Adult Education Survey
 United States of America 2,126,923 0.65% 2015 American Community Survey
 Uruguay 5,204 0.15% 2014 OIF report
 Vanuatu 88,850 31.50% 2009 census
 Vietnam 675,438 0.70% 2010 OIF report

Other territories

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

Native speakers

It is estimated that 80 million people worldwide speak French as a main or first language.[8]

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

Subnational territories

Territory Country L1 speakers Percentage Year Reference
Flanders  Belgium 367,000 5.9% 2009 [29]
New Brunswick  Canada 240,455 32.5% 2011 [30]
Nova Scotia  Canada 31,110 3.4% 2011 [30]
Ontario  Canada 561,155 4.4% 2011 [30]
Quebec  Canada 6,231,600 79.7% 2011 [31]
Manitoba  Canada 51,280 4.3% 2011 [30]
Alberta  Canada 68 435 2.1% 2011 [30]
British Columbia  Canada 63 625 1.4% 2011 [30]
Mayotte[note 11]  France 21,000 10% 2014 [32]
Réunion[note 12]  France 65,700 8% 2010 [33]
Puducherry[note 13]  India 1,600 0.26% 1982 [34]
Aosta Valley[note 14]  Italy 1,500 1.3% 2003 [35]
Romandie   Switzerland 1,606,029 83.6% 2013 [36]
Louisiana  United States 119,931 2.8% 2013 [37]
Maine  United States 47,066 3.73% 2012 [37]
Massachusetts  United States 65,874 1.06% 2012 [37]
Connecticut  United States 35,565 1.05% 2012 [37]
New Hampshire  United States 24,697 1.98% 2012 [37]
Vermont  United States 9,543 1.61% 2012 [37]
Rhode Island  United States 11,477 1.15% 2012 [37]