French is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. As a result, there are several French-speaking countries. Historically linked to France’s colonial expansion, these countries have made French their own, resulting in numerous localised variants of the language.
What does the word ‘Francophonie’ mean?
The word ‘Francophonie’ describes countries whose first or second official language is French. Approximately 196 million people currently live in French-speaking countries worldwide.
The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) is an organisation that advocates and facilitates the spread and study of the French language across the globe. The organisation’s motto, inspired by the revolutionary motto of 1789, is ‘egalité, complémentarité, solidarité’. The member countries of the OIF are committed to upholding, promoting, and sharing French language and culture. They achieve this through cultural exchanges and various international collaborations with other member countries.
A list of French-speaking countries
The francophone language is widespread in several countries in Europe, the African continent, the Americas, and Oceania.
French-speaking countries in Europe
French-speaking countries in Europe border France and have developed a rich history of diplomatic relations with it. More precisely, they are:
- Principality of Monaco
- Val d’Aosta (here, the official language is Italian, but French is understood and spoken by most of the population).
French-speaking countries in Africa
Africa is home to the most French-speaking countries. The reason for this can be traced back to France’s complex colonial history and its subsequent dominance in many of these nations. The French-speaking countries of Africa are:
- Burkina Faso
- Ivory Coast
- Equatorial Guinea
- Central African Republic
- Republic of Congo
- Democratic Republic of Congo
French-speaking countries in the Americas
On the American continent, the French-speaking countries are:
- Canada (specifically Quebec, which is almost a nation in its own right)
- Louisiana (in the United States).
French-speaking countries in Oceania
The only French-speaking country in Oceania is the Republic of Vanuatu. At the time of colonial conquest, the group of islands that now make up Vanuatu were known as New Hebrides, and the nation is comprised of a collection of islands. Its other official languages are English and Bislama, its native language.