Map of nations using English as an official language or as the predominant language
The following is a list of
sovereign states and non-sovereign entities where English is an official language, i.e., the language of government. In 2012, there were 60 sovereign states and 28 non-sovereign entities where English was an official language.
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 many states and regions within the U.S. do have English as an official language.
Sovereign states [ edit ]
Countries where English is a
de jure/ official language
Antigua and Barbuda [1 ] Caribbean
Bahamas [1 ] Caribbean
Barbados [2 ] Caribbean
Belize [3 ] Central America / Caribbean
Botswana [3 ] Africa
Cameroon [1 ] Africa
Canada [1 ] North America
Cook Islands 14 [1 ] Oceania
Dominica [1 ] Caribbean
Fiji [1 ] Oceania
Gambia [1 ] Africa
Ghana [1 ] Africa
Grenada [1 ] Caribbean
Guyana [4 ] South America / Caribbean
India [3 ] [5 ] Asia
Ireland [6 ] Europe
Jamaica [7 ] Caribbean
Kenya [1 ] Africa
Kiribati [1 ] Oceania
Lesotho [1 ] Africa
Liberia [1 ] Africa
Malawi [8 ] Africa
Malta [1 ] Europe
Marshall Islands [1 ] Oceania
Mauritius [1 ] Africa / Indian Ocean
Federated States of Micronesia [1 ] Oceania
Namibia [1 ] Africa
Nauru [9 ] Oceania
New Zealand [1 ] Oceania
Nigeria [1 ] [10 ] Africa
Niue 14 [1 ] Oceania
Pakistan [1 ] Asia
Palau [3 ] Oceania
Papua New Guinea [11 ] [12 ] Oceania
Philippines [13 ] [1 ] Asia
Rwanda [1 ] Africa
Saint Kitts and Nevis [14 ] Caribbean
Saint Lucia [1 ] Caribbean
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines [15 ] Caribbean
Samoa [16 ] Oceania
Seychelles [1 ] Africa / Indian Ocean
Sierra Leone [1 ] Africa
Singapore [17 ] Asia
Solomon Islands [1 ] Oceania
Somaliland 15 Africa
South Africa [19 ] Africa
South Sudan [20 ] Africa
Sudan [1 ] Africa
Swaziland [1 ] Africa
Tanzania [1 ] Africa
Tonga [21 ] Oceania
Trinidad and Tobago [1 ] Caribbean
Tuvalu [3 ] Oceania
Uganda [1 ] Africa
Vanuatu [22 ] Oceania
Zambia [1 ] Africa
Zimbabwe [1 ] Africa
Countries where English is a
de facto official, but not primary, language
Israel [24 ] [25 ] [26 ] Asia / Middle East
Non-sovereign entities [ edit ]
American Samoa 11 Oceania
Anguilla [1 ] Caribbean
Bermuda 9 [1 ] North America
British Virgin Islands [1 ] Caribbean
Cayman Islands [3 ] Caribbean
Christmas Island 12 [1 ] Australia
Cocos (Keeling) Islands [1 ] Australia
Curaçao [27 ] Caribbean
Falkland Islands South Atlantic
Gibraltar [1 ] Europe
Guam 4 Oceania
Guernsey 10 Europe
Hong Kong 2 [1 ] Asia
Isle of Man 8 Europe
Jersey 6 [1 ] Europe
Montserrat [3 ] Caribbean
Norfolk Island [1 ] Australia
Northern Mariana Islands 7 Oceania
Pitcairn Islands 13 [1 ] Oceania
Puerto Rico 3 Caribbean
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha [3 ] South Atlantic
Sint Maarten [28 ] Caribbean
San Andrés y Providencia, Colombia [29 ] Caribbean
Tokelau [3 ] Oceania
Turks and Caicos Islands [1 ] Caribbean
U.S. Virgin Islands 5 Caribbean
See also [ edit ]
The population figures are based on the sources in ^1 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.
Hong Kong is a former British ^2 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)
Puerto Rico is, historically and culturally, connected to the ^3 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"
Guam is an ^4 organized unincorporated territory of the United States
The US Virgin Islands is an ^5 insular area of the United States
Jersey is a British ^6 Crown dependency
The Northern Mariana Islands is a ^7 commonwealth in political union with the United States
Isle of Man is a British ^8 Crown dependency
Bermuda is a ^9 British Overseas Territory
Guernsey is a British ^10 Crown dependency
American Samoa is an ^11 unincorporated U.S. territory
Christmas Island is an ^12 external territory of Australia
Pitcairn Islands is a ^13 British Overseas Territory
The Cook Islands and Niue are ^14 associated states of New Zealand that lack general recognition.
Somaliland is a ^15 state, recognized internationally as an de facto autonomous region of Somalia.
References [ edit ]
^ 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 z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au Official language; "Field Listing - Languages". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency . Retrieved 2009-01-11. .
^ "Society". Government Information Service (Barbados) . Retrieved 2009-01-18.
^ a b c d e f g h i English usage; "Field Listing - Languages". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency . Retrieved 2009-01-11. .
^ "National Profile". Government Information Agency (Guyana) . Retrieved 2009-01-18.
^ N. Krishnaswamy; Lalitha Krishnaswamy (6 January 2006). "3.14 English Becomes a Second Language". . Foundation Books. The story of English in India ISBN 978-81-7596-312-2.
^ BUNREACHT NA hÉIREANN
^ The Constitution of Jamaica (section 20(6e) — implicit)
^ 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.
^ "Nauru". New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 2008-12-03 . Retrieved 2009-01-18. English and Nauruan are official.
^ "Country profile: Nigeria". . April 30, 2008 BBC News . Retrieved November 10, 2008.
^ "General Information on Papua New Guinea". Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority . Retrieved 2009-01-18.
^ "Country profile: Papua New Guinea". BBC News. 2008-11-28.
^ "Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Article XIV". Chanrobles Law Library. 1987 . Retrieved October 27, 2007. (See Article XIV, Section 7)
^ "Primary Schools". Government of St Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis . Retrieved 2009-01-18.
^ "St. Vincent and the Grenadines Profile". Agency for Public Information (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) . Retrieved 2011-06-18.
^ "Legislations: List of Acts and Ordinances". The Parliament of Samoa . Retrieved 2009-01-18. Languages for official legislation are Samoan and English.
^ 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."
^ "Statistics Singapore - Latest Data - Population (Mid-Year Estimates)". Statistics Singapore. June 2012 . Retrieved 10 November 2012.
^ "Constitution of the Republic of South Africa". Constitutional Court of South Africa . Retrieved 2009-01-11.
^ "The Constitution of Southern Sudan". Southern Sudan Civil Society Initiative . Retrieved 2011-07-09.
^ Kingdom of Tonga (March 2008). "The United Nations / Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council" . Retrieved 2009-01-18. English and Tongan are listed as official.
^ "Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu". Government of the Republic of Vanuatu. 1980-83 . Retrieved 2009-01-18.
^ "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."
^ Spolsky, Bernard (1999). . Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. pp. 169–70. Round Table on Language and Linguistics 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."
^ 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."
^ Shohamy, Elana (2006). . Routledge. pp. 72–73. Language Policy: Hidden Agendas and New Approaches 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."
^ "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.
^ According to Art. 1 para 2. Constitution of Sint Maarten: "The official languages are Dutch and English"