List of countries where English is an official language

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Map of nations using English as a de facto or official majority language (dark blue) or an official minority language (light blue)

The following is a list of territories where English is an official language, i.e., the language of government. In 2014, there were 58 sovereign states and 21 non-sovereign entities where English was an official language. Many country subdivisions have declared English the official language at the local or regional level.

The majority of countries where English is an official language are former territories of the British Empire. Notable exceptions include Rwanda, which was a former Belgian colony, and Eritrea, which was an Italian colony where the British Empire spanned its control only in World War II and shortly after (1941-1952). English is the sole official language of the Commonwealth of Nations. English is one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union and the International Olympic Committee. Although English is not an official language in the United States or United Kingdom generally; Scotland, Wales, and many states and territories within the U.S. do have English as an official language.

Sovereign states[edit]

Countries where English is a de jure/official language
Country Region Population1
 Antigua and Barbuda[1] Caribbean 85,000
 Bahamas[1] Caribbean 331,000
 Barbados[2] Caribbean 294,000
 Belize [3] Central America / Caribbean 288,000
 Botswana [3] Africa 1,882,000
 Cameroon[1] Africa 18,549,000
 Canada[1] North America 33,531,000
 Cook Islands14[1] Oceania 20,200
 Dominica[1] Caribbean 73,000
 Eritrea[1] Africa 6,233,682
 Fiji[1] Oceania 827,900
 Gambia[1] Africa 1,709,000
 Ghana[1] Africa 23,478,000
 Grenada[1] Caribbean 106,000
 Guyana[4] South America / Caribbean 738,000
 India [3][5] Asia 1,247,540,000
 Ireland[6] Europe 4,581,269
 Jamaica[7] Caribbean 2,714,000
 Kenya[1] Africa 37,538,000
 Kiribati[1] Oceania 95,000
 Lesotho[1] Africa 2,008,000
 Liberia[1] Africa 3,750,000
 Malawi[8] Africa 13,925,000
 Malta[1] Europe 412,600
 Marshall Islands[1] Oceania 59,000
 Mauritius[1] Africa / Indian Ocean 1,262,000
 Federated States of Micronesia[1] Oceania 111,000
 Namibia[1] Africa 2,074,000
 Nauru[9] Oceania 10,000
 New Zealand[1] Oceania 4,294,350
 Nigeria[1][10] Africa 148,093,000
 Niue14[1] Oceania 1,600
 Pakistan[1] Asia 165,449,000
 Palau [3] Oceania 20,000
 Papua New Guinea[11][12] Oceania 6,331,000
 Philippines[13][1] Asia 90,457,200
 Rwanda[1] Africa 9,725,000
 Saint Kitts and Nevis[14] Caribbean 50,000
 Saint Lucia[1] Caribbean 165,000
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines[15] Caribbean 120,000
 Samoa[16] Oceania 188,359
 Seychelles[1] Africa / Indian Ocean 87,000
 Sierra Leone[1] Africa 5,866,000
 Singapore[17] Asia 5,312,400[18]
 Solomon Islands[1] Oceania 506,992
 Somaliland15 Africa 3,500,000
 South Africa[19] Africa 47,850,700
 South Sudan[20] Africa 8,260,490
 Sudan[1] Africa 31,894,000
 Swaziland[1] Africa 1,141,000
 Tanzania[1] Africa 40,454,000
 Tonga[21] Oceania 100,000
 Trinidad and Tobago[1] Caribbean 1,333,000
 Tuvalu[3] Oceania 11,000
 Uganda[1] Africa 30,884,000
 Vanuatu[22] Oceania 226,000
 Zambia[1] Africa 11,922,000
 Zimbabwe[1] Africa 13,349,000
Countries where English is the de facto language
Country Region Population1
 Australia[23] Oceania 22,930,576
 United Kingdom Europe 61,612,300
 United States North America 309,442,000
Countries where English is a de facto official, but not primary, language
Country Region Population1
 Brunei [24][25] Asia 415,717
 Israel[26][27][28] Asia / Middle East 8,051,200
 Malaysia[29] Asia 20,277,597
 Sri Lanka [30][31] Asia 30,018,242

Non-sovereign entities[edit]

Non-sovereign entities where English is the de jure official language
Entity Region Population1
 Akrotiri and Dhekelia Europe 15,700
 American Samoa11 Oceania 67,700
 Anguilla[1] Caribbean 13,000
 Bermuda9[1] North America 65,000
 British Virgin Islands[1] Caribbean 23,000
 Cayman Islands [3] Caribbean 47,000
 Christmas Island12[1] Australia 1,508
 Curaçao[32] Caribbean 150,563
 Falkland Islands South Atlantic 3,000
 Gibraltar[1] Europe 29,257
 Guam4 Oceania 173,000
 Hong Kong2[1] Asia 7,097,600
 Isle of Man8 Europe 80,058
 Jersey6[1] Europe 89,300
 Norfolk Island[1] Australia 1,828
 Northern Mariana Islands7 Oceania 53,883
 Pitcairn Islands13[1] Oceania 50
 Puerto Rico3 Caribbean 3,991,000
 Sint Maarten[33] Caribbean 40,900
 Turks and Caicos Islands[1] Caribbean 26,000
 U.S. Virgin Islands5 Caribbean 111,000
Non-sovereign entities where English is the de facto language
Entity Region Population1
 British Indian Ocean Territory Indian Ocean 3,000
 Cocos (Keeling) Islands[1] Australia 596
 Guernsey10 Europe 61,811
 Montserrat[1] Caribbean 5,900
 Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha[3] South Atlantic 5,660
Non-sovereign entities where English is a de facto official, but not primary, language
Entity Region Population1
 Tokelau[34] Oceania 1,400

Country subdivisions[edit]

In these country subdivisions, English has de jure official status, but English is not official in their respective countries at the national level.

Country subdivisions where English is the de jure official language
Subdivision Country Region Population
 Alabama[35]  United States North America 4,833,722
 Alaska[36]  United States North America 735,132
 Arizona[37]  United States North America 6,626,624
 Arkansas[35]  United States North America 2,959,373
Bay Islands  Honduras Central America / Caribbean 71,500
 California[35]  United States North America 38,332,521
 Colorado[35]  United States North America 5,268,367
 Florida[35]  United States North America 19,552,860
 Georgia[35]  United States North America 9,992,167
 Hawaii[35]  United States Oceania 1,404,054
 Idaho[35]  United States North America 1,612,136
 Illinois[35]  United States North America 12,882,135
 Indiana[35]  United States North America 6,570,902
 Iowa[35]  United States North America 3,090,416
 Kansas[35]  United States North America 2,893,957
 Kentucky[35]  United States North America 4,395,295
 Mississippi[35]  United States North America 2,991,207
 Montana[35]  United States North America 1,015,165
 Nebraska[35]  United States North America 1,868,516
 New Hampshire[35]  United States North America 1,323,459
 North Carolina[35]  United States North America 9,848,060
 North Dakota[35]  United States North America 723,393
 Oklahoma[38]  United States North America 3,850,568
 Saba[39]  Netherlands Caribbean 1,991
 San Andrés y Providencia [40]  Colombia Caribbean 59,573
 Scotland[41]  United Kingdom Europe 5,313,600
 Sint Eustatius[39]  Netherlands Caribbean 3,897
 South Carolina[35]  United States North America 4,774,839
 South Dakota[35]  United States North America 844,877
 Tennessee[35]  United States North America 6,495,978
 Utah[35]  United States North America 2,900,872
 Virginia[35]  United States North America 8,260,405
 Wales[42]  United Kingdom Europe 3,063,456
 Wyoming[35]  United States North America 582,658

See also[edit]


^1 The population figures are based on the sources in List of countries by population, with information as of 23 January 2009 (UN estimates, et al.), and refer to the population of the country and not necessarily to the number of inhabitants that speak English in the country in question.
^2 Hong Kong is a former British Crown colony (1843-1981) and British Dependent Territory (1981-1997); it is currently a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (1997- present)
^3 Puerto Rico is, historically and culturally, connected to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean; Spanish is also an official language on the island. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated United States territory referred to as a "Commonwealth"
^4 Guam is an organized unincorporated territory of the United States
^5 The US Virgin Islands is an insular area of the United States
^6 Jersey is a British Crown dependency
^7 The Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in political union with the United States
^8 Isle of Man is a British Crown dependency
^9 Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory
^10 Guernsey is a British Crown dependency
^11 American Samoa is an unincorporated U.S. territory
^12 Christmas Island is an external territory of Australia
^13 Pitcairn Islands is a British Overseas Territory
^14 The Cook Islands and Niue are associated states of New Zealand that lack general recognition.
^15 Somaliland is a de facto state, recognized internationally as an autonomous region of Somalia.


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  2. ^ "Society". Government Information Service (Barbados). Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g English usage; "Field Listing - Languages". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2009-01-11. .
  4. ^ "National Profile". Government Information Agency (Guyana). Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  5. ^ N. Krishnaswamy; Lalitha Krishnaswamy (6 January 2006). "3.14 English Becomes a Second Language". The story of English in India. Foundation Books. ISBN 978-81-7596-312-2. 
  7. ^ The Constitution of Jamaica (section 20(6e) — implicit)
  8. ^ Malawi Investment Promotion Agency (August 2005). "Opportunities for investment and Trade in Malawi – the Warm Heart of Africa". Government of Malawi. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  9. ^ "Nauru". New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2009-01-18.  English and Nauruan are official.
  10. ^ "Country profile: Nigeria". BBC News. April 30, 2008. Retrieved November 10, 2008. 
  11. ^ "General Information on Papua New Guinea". Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority. Retrieved 2009-01-18. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Country profile: Papua New Guinea". BBC News. 2008-11-28. 
  13. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Article XIV". Chanrobles Law Library. 1987. Retrieved October 27, 2007.  (See Article XIV, Section 7)
  14. ^ "Primary Schools". Government of St Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  15. ^ "St. Vincent and the Grenadines Profile". Agency for Public Information (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines). Retrieved 2011-06-18. 
  16. ^ "Legislations: List of Acts and Ordinances". The Parliament of Samoa. Retrieved 2009-01-18. [dead link] Languages for official legislation are Samoan and English.
  17. ^ Wong, Aline (2000-11-24). "Education in a Multicultural Setting - The Singapore Experience". Ministry of Education, Government of Singapore. Retrieved 2009-01-18. "There are four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil." 
  18. ^ "Statistics Singapore - Latest Data - Population (Mid-Year Estimates)". Statistics Singapore. June 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  19. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of South Africa". Constitutional Court of South Africa. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  20. ^ "The Constitution of Southern Sudan". Southern Sudan Civil Society Initiative. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  21. ^ Kingdom of Tonga (March 2008). "The United Nations / Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council". Retrieved 2009-01-18. [dead link] English and Tongan are listed as official.
  22. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu". Government of the Republic of Vanuatu. 1980-83. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  23. ^ "Pluralist Nations: Pluralist Language Policies?". 1995 Global Cultural Diversity Conference Proceedings, Sydney. Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Retrieved 11 January 2009. "English has no de jure status but it is so entrenched as the common language that it is de facto the official language as well as the national language."
  24. ^ English is a "Statutory national working language." Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2013. "Brunei." Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Seventeenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online edition: Accessed 30 March 2014.
  25. ^ Under the constitution of 1959, Malay is the official language of Brunei; but English may be used "for all official purposes." Laws are written in English and Malay, with the English version being the authoritative one. "Laws of Brunei: Revised Edition. Section 82". 1984. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  26. ^ Spolsky, Bernard (1999). Round Table on Language and Linguistics. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. pp. 169–70. ISBN 0-87840-132-6. "In 1948, the newly independent state of Israel took over the old British regulations that had set English, Arabic, and Hebrew as official languages for Mandatory Palestine but, as mentioned, dropped English from the list. In spite of this, official language use has maintained a de facto role for English, after Hebrew but before Arabic." 
  27. ^ Bat-Zeev Shyldkrot, Hava (2004). "Part I: Language and Discourse". In Diskin Ravid, Dorit; Bat-Zeev Shyldkrot, Hava. Perspectives on Language and Development: Essays in Honor of Ruth A. Berman. Kluwer Academic Publishers. p. 90. ISBN 1-4020-7911-7. "English is not considered official but it plays a dominant role in the educational and public life of Israeli society. ... It is the language most widely used in commerce, business, formal papers, academia, and public interactions, public signs, road directions, names of buildings, etc. English behaves 'as if' it were the second and official language in Israel." 
  28. ^ Shohamy, Elana (2006). Language Policy: Hidden Agendas and New Approaches. Routledge. pp. 72–73. ISBN 0-415-32864-0. "In terms of English, there is no connection between the declared policies and statements and de facto practices. While English is not declared anywhere as an official language, the reality is that it has a very high and unique status in Israel. It is the main language of the academy, commerce, business, and the public space." 
  29. ^ "English remains an active second language, and serves as the medium of instruction for maths and sciences in all public schools.Malaysian English, also known as Malaysian Standard English, is a form of English derived from British English. Malaysian English is widely used in business, along with Manglish, which is a colloquial form of English with heavy Malay, Chinese, and Tamil influences. The government discourages the misuse of Malay and has instituted fines for public signs that mix Malay and English." "About Malaysia:Language". My Government: The Government of Malaysia's Official Portal. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  30. ^ English is a "De facto national working language, used in government." Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2013. "Sri Lanka." Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Seventeenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online edition: Accessed 30 March 2014.
  31. ^ Under the constitution of 1978, Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages of Sri Lanka, but English is "the link language." Any person is entitled "to receive communications from, and to communicate and transact business with, any official in his official capacity" in English, to receive an English translation of "any official register, record, publication or other document," and "to communicate and transact business in English." English translations must be made for "all laws and subordinate legislation," "all Orders, Proclamations, rules, by-laws, regulations and notifications." "THE CONSTITUTION OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA: Chapter IV". 1978. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  32. ^ "LANDSVERORDENING van de 28ste maart 2007 houdende vaststelling van de officiële talen (Landsverordening officiële talen)" (in Dutch). Government of the Netherlands. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  33. ^ According to Art. 1 para 2. Constitution of Sint Maarten: "The official languages are Dutch and English"
  34. ^ "Associated Countries and External Territories: Tokelau". Commonwealth Secretariat. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Crawford, James (June 24, 2008). "Language Legislation in the U.S.A.". Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  36. ^ "Alaska Supreme Court Upholds State's Official English Law". Business Wire. November 5, 2007. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  37. ^ "Arizona makes English official". Washington Times. November 8, 2006. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  38. ^ Slipke, Darla (November 3, 2010). "Oklahoma elections: Republican-backed measures win approval". NewsOK. The Oklahoman. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  39. ^ a b English can be used in relations with the government
    "Invoeringswet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  40. ^
  41. ^ Scottish Government. "Scottish Facts and Information". Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  42. ^ National Assembly for Wales (2012). "National Assembly for Wales (Official Languages) Act 2012". Retrieved March 19, 2014.