Romance-speaking Africa

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Romance-speaking African countries
Official languages French, Portuguese and Spanish
Member states 27
Romance languages in Africa

Romance-speaking Africa consists of the countries and territories in Africa whose official or main languages are Romance ones, and countries which have significant populations that speak Romance languages: French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian.

Many of these countries are members of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF; International Organization of La Francophonie) or the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa), and seven are members of the Latin Union.[1]

North Africa, from Morocco to Egypt, was part of the Roman Empire. As a result, the African Romance language evolved in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. It was spoken until the 13th century.

French language[edit]

Main article: Francophonie

The following is a list of the Sub-Saharan African countries where French or African French is spoken.[2][3]

The French Language is also spoken in two French Overseas Departments:

Portuguese language[edit]

African countries where Portuguese ( African Portuguese varieties) is spoken:[2]

Portuguese territory, geographically located in Africa, where Portuguese is spoken

Spanish language[edit]

Sub-Saharan African countries where Spanish or African Spanish is spoken:[2]

Spain territories in Africa (official language):

French and Spanish in North Africa[edit]

In North Africa there are countries where French or Spanish are spoken, but they are neither the main nor the official languages:

Italian language[edit]

 Eritrea,  Ethiopia,  Libya, and  Somalia conserve Italian as a colonial legacy; Somalia had Italian as its cultural language in universities up to 1991; however, the Italian language remains unknown to over 95% of the population. In Libya, Italians were forced to leave the country after its independence. The presence of Italian is limited in Ethiopia as Italian rule lasted only 5 years from 1936 to 1941.

In all of these countries, the only one that preserves Italian is Eritrea, which has only one Italian-language school remaining, with 470 pupils yearly. The name of the only Italian-language school in Eritrea is Scuola Italiana di Asmara.[4] 'The official languages of the Somali Republic shall be Somali (Maay and Maxaatiri) and Arabic.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Unión Latina". Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  2. ^ a b c "CIA - The World Factbook -- Field Listing - Languages". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2008-11-14. 
  3. ^ Population Reference Bureau. "2007 World Population Data Sheet" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-08-16. 
  4. ^ (Italian)Scuola Italiana di Asmara (in Italian)
  5. ^ Diana Briton Putman, Mohamood Cabdi Noor, The Somalis: their history and culture, (Center for Applied Linguistics: 1993), p. 15.: "Somalis speak Somali. Swahili may also be spoken in coastal areas near Kenya."