Did you know French is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world? In fact, it’s one of the only languages with speakers on every continent! Since the French language is found in so many places, you may be wondering exactly how many people speak French. In this blog, you’ll find out how many people are French speakers and where they live.
If you’ve ever thought about traveling the world, knowing some French could be a great tool to help you get around. With Rosetta Stone, learning French is easier than ever! Rosetta Stone’s immersive learning environment helps you pick up a new language faster by tapping into the way you learned language as a child. Plus, you’ll get advanced pronunciation feedback to help you sound like a local so you can join the millions of people around the world who are French speakers.
Total number of French speakers
To start, let’s look at the data on French speakers:
- French has an estimated 220 million native speakers and around 320 million total speakers according to the Organization of International Francophonie.
- French is the language of instruction for 93 million students.
- French is spoken by about 3.6 percent of the world’s population.
- French is the 5th most spoken language in the world, with only a few hundred thousand more speakers than Arabic.
Countries with the most French speakers
The country with the most French speakers is of course France, but there are millions of speakers who are not from France or any other European country. Here are the top ten countries with the most French speakers, including native speakers and people who speak French as a second language.
- France: 63,958,684
- Democratic Republic of Congo: 48,924,702
- Algeria: 14,903,789
- Morocco: 13,456,845
- Germany: 12,242,129
- Italy: 11,796,508
- Cameroon: 11,490,652
- United Kingdom: 11,281,136
- Canada: 11,060,585
- Ivory Coast: 9,324,605
Number of French speakers by region
French is spoken by people all over the world—including some places you wouldn’t expect! Here’s a closer look at the number of French speakers from each region of the globe.
Africa has the highest concentration of French speakers anywhere in the world. Around 96 million French speakers live in Africa. There are also 22 African countries that use French as their official or co-official language:
- Burkina Faso
- Burundi (co-official)
- Cameroon (co-official)
- Central African Republic (co-official)
- Chad (co-official)
- Comoros (co-official)
- Congo, Democratic Republic of
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Djibouti (co-official)
- Equatorial Guinea (co-official)
- Guinea (co-official)
- Madagascar (co-official)
- Rwanda (co-official)
- Seychelles (co-official)
An estimated 47 percent of daily French speakers reside on the African continent. Even in countries where it is not the official language, French is used as the language of instruction or as an administrative language in numerous other African countries. In some countries, like Morocco, French is so widely spoken that it is considered the de-facto language of the country even if there is a different official language.
Although it is a common language used in education and business, French is often not the first language of many African speakers. African French mixes with elements of indigenous African languages to form unique dialects across the continent.
The second highest concentration of French speakers in the world is on the European continent. French is spoken by 12 percent of the European population and is the second most common language in the EU after German. Between France and Monaco—the only two European countries to have French as the sole official language—there are around 68 million native French speakers. In total, there are an estimated 80 million French speakers in Europe, including native and second language speakers.
French is also an official language of multiple international organizations headquartered in Europe including the European Union, the International Olympic Committee, the International Criminal Court, NATO, Doctors Without Borders, and more.
In North America, most French speakers reside in either Canada or the Caribbean. There are some French speakers in the United States, but most are concentrated in Louisiana or learned French as a second language.
According to the Canadian government 7.7 million people speak French as their first language. The majority of these French speakers reside in the province of Quebec. There are an estimated 10 million people in Canada who speak French as either their first or second language.
French is the official language of six countries in the Caribbean including:
- Saint Barthélemy
- French Guiana
With a population close to 7 million people, Haiti is the largest Caribbean island to speak French. Most Haitians also speak Haitian Creole, the other official language of Haiti, which borrows from both French and indigenous languages.
Guadeloupe and Martinique are considered overseas departments of France—a term France uses to describe subsets of a region—and have a combined population of around 800,000 people. Other nations like Dominica and Saint Lucia don’t have French as their official language, but they do speak Antillean Creole, which borrows from French in the same way Haitian Creole does.
The United States
Most French speakers in the United States reside in the state of Louisiana. It’s been estimated that there are around 120,000 French speakers in Louisiana, with most of them residing in or around the New Orleans area. Out of that population around 20,000 speak Cajun French or Louisiana Creole. Like Haitian Creole, these languages developed by combining elements of French with other languages.
Although Asia is the most populous continent, it has very few French speakers. In all of Asia, only two cities in India, Chandannagar and Puducherry, use French as their official language. Between the two cities there are around 400,000 French speakers.
The following Asian countries also have small percentages of French speakers:
In these countries French is often taught in secondary schools or used as an administrative language.
With a population of close to 300,000 people, French Guiana is the only country in South America to have French as their official language. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay also have small populations of French speakers.
In Oceania there are three overseas collectivities of France:
These collectivities are still considered to be a part of France, but with semi-autonomous status. French is the official language for all of these countries and they have a combined population of around 560,000 people.
Vanuatu, with a population of around 300,000 people, is the only other country in Oceania to have a French speaking population. French is an official language of Vanuatu alongside Bislama and English.
Join the global community of French speakers
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