List of countries where Arabic is an official language
Arabic and its different dialects are spoken by around 422 million speakers (native and non-native) in the Arab world as well as in the Arab diaspora making it one of the five most spoken languages in the world. Currently, 22 countries are member states of the Arab League (as well as 5 countries were granted an observer status) which was founded in Cairo in 1945. Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage comprising 30 modern varieties, including its standard form .
Arabic is the lingua franca of people who live in countries of the Arab world as well as of Arabs who live in the diaspora, particularly in Latin America (especially Brazil and Argentina) or Western Europe (like France, Spain, Germany or Italy).
Cypriot Arabic is an official minority language in the EU member state Cyprus and is the only European variety of Arabic within the Arabic macrolanguage . Maltese is the only fully separate standardized language to have originated from an Arabic dialect (the extinct Sicilian Arabic dialect), with independent literary norms - it has its own language code (ml/mlt) that is distinct from that used for the Arabic macrolanguage (ar/ara) and has no diglossic relationship with Standard Arabic or Classical Arabic.. It is one of the official languages of the EU.
- 1 Countries with Arabic as an official language
- 2 Countries with Arabic as a national language or an official minority language
- 3 Countries where Arabic has a special status according to the constitution
- 4 Non-sovereign entities where Arabic is an official language
- 5 History
- 6 Territories where Arabic was an official or de facto official language in the history and later replaced or canceled
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Notes
- 10 External links
Countries with Arabic as an official language
As of 2016, there are 26 independent nations where Arabic is an official language. The following is a list of sovereign states and territories where Arabic is an official or de facto official language.
|No||Country||Population||Notes||No. of Arabic Speakers||% of Arabic Speakers||Member state of
|1.||Algeria||41,701,000||Co-official language, along with Berber||40,100,000||80.00||Yes|
|3.||Chad||10,329,208||Co-official language, along with French||1,320,000||1.81||No|
|4.||Comoros||798,000||Co-official language, along with Comorian and French||Yes|
|5.||Djibouti||810,179||Co-official language, along with French||97,900||1.32||Yes|
|7.||Eritrea||6,380,803||Co-official language, along with Tigrinya and English||249,700||3.83||Observer status|
|8.||Iraq||36,004,552||Co-official language, along with Kurdish||22,908,120||85.81||Yes|
|9.||Israel a||8,238,300||Co-official language, along with Hebrew||2,039,000||24.82||No|
|13.||Libya||6,244,174||Official language||4,526,000||72.09||Yes e|
|15.||Morocco||35,250,000||Co-official language, along with Berber||25,003,930||74.29||Yes|
|17.||Palestine b||4,484,000||Official language in the Palestinian territories c||1,610,000||37.49||Yes|
|19.||Saudi Arabia||30,770,375||Official language||27,178,770||95.62||Yes|
|20.||Somalia||10,428,043||Co-official language, along with Somali||3,788,000||31.26||Yes|
|21.||Sudan||40,235,000||Co-official language, along with English||28,164,500||70.00||Yes|
|22.||Syria d||20,956,000||Official language||17,951,639||91.71||Yes f|
|1,303,569||Co-official language, along with Kiswahili and English||No|
|25.||United Arab Emirates||9,346,129||Official language||3,607,600||39.71||Yes|
|26.||Yemen||23,833,000||Official language||14,671,000||54.68||Yes g|
|a. Out of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 161 member states currently recognize the State of Israel.
b. Out of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 136 member states currently recognize the State of Palestine.
Countries with Arabic as a national language or an official minority language
As of 2016, there are 6 independent nations where Arabic is a national language or an official minority language, but not primary language. The following is a list of sovereign states and territories where Arabic is a national language or an official minority language.
|No||Country||Population||National language or Minority language||Region|
Cypriot Arabic (alongside Armenian) is one of the two recognized minority languages of Cyprus, since 2008. It is spoken by the Maronite community, which is a minority in Cyprus especially in the cities Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca.
Arabic is a recognized minority language of Iran. In addition, the constitution recognizes the Arabic language as the language of Islam, giving it a formal status as the language of religion, and regulates its spreading within the Iranian national curriculum. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Arabic (as the language of Quran) became mandatory for pupils in Iran. Arabic courses are mandatory starting from 6th year of schooling (1st year of Middle School) until the 11th year (penultimate year of High School).
In 2008, the public university Payame Noor University declared that Arabic will be the "second language" of the university, and that all its services will be offered in Arabic, concurrent with Persian.
The local dialects of Arabic spoken by Arab minorities in Iran (like Ahwazi Arabs, Khamseh Arabs, Marsh Arabs as well as Arabs in Khorasan) are Khuzestani Arabic and Mesopotamian Arabic, (also known as Iraqi Arabic) mainly in Khuzestan Province as well as Khorasani Arabic especially in Khorasan Province.
There are also several TV channels in Arabic language broadcasting from Iran, namely, Al-Alam, Al-Kawthar TV as well as IFilm. Currently, the sole newspaper in Arabic language published in Iran is Kayhan Al Arabi out of 23 Persian dailies and three English dailies newspapers in Iran.
Arabic is one of the recognized national languages in Mali. Hassaniya Arabic (a variety of Maghrebi Arabic) is spoken by a minority in Mali especially by the Azawagh Arabs (also known as nomadic Moors) nomadic ethnic Arab-ancestry tribes who are settling mainly in the area of Azawagh which is a dry basin covering what is today northwestern Niger, as well as parts of northeastern Mali and southern Algeria.
Arabic is one of the recognized national languages in Niger. Arabic is spoken by a minority in Niger especially by the Diffa Arabs (also known as Mahamid Arabs) an Arab nomadic tribespeople who is living in eastern Niger, mostly in the Diffa Region.
In 2015, the Turkey’s Ministry of Education announced that as of the 2016-17 academic year, Arabic language courses (as a second language) will be offered to students in elementary school starting in second grade. The Arabic courses will be offered as an elective language course like German, French and English which are already being offered to elementary school students for a long time. According to a prepared curriculum, second and third graders will start learning the Arabic language by listening-comprehension and speaking, while introduction to writing will join these skills in fourth grade and after fifth grade students will start learning the language in all its four basic skills.
The national public broadcaster of Turkey the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (also known as TRT) broadcasts TRT Al Arabiya a 24 hours a day TV channel in Arabic language (launched in April 2010).
Countries where Arabic has a special status according to the constitution
As of 2016, there were 2 independent nations where Arabic had a special status according to the constitution. The following is a list of sovereign states and territories where Arabic had a special status according to the constitution.
|a. ^ The constitution of Pakistan states in Article 31 No. 2 that "The State shall endeavour, as respects the Muslims of Pakistan (a) to make the teaching of the Holy Quran and Islamiat compulsory, to encourage and facilitate the learning of Arabic language ..."
According to the Constitution of Pakistan of 1956 the two languages Urdu (which is very close to Hindi, both also called Hindustani language which were two of the lingua franca of North India and Pakistan that time) as well as Bengali (at that time the lingua franca in the territory which is today the independent state Bangladesh) became the national languages in the new founded state Islamic Republic of Pakistan. General Ayub Khan the second President of Pakistan advocated the institution of Arabic language teaching a spart of national planning. "Ayub`s educational plan emphasized Urdu and English as the primary language of Pakistan, but additionally recommended that Arabic be a secondary language of instruction along with English."
The Arabic language is mentioned in the constitution of Pakistan. It declares in article 31 No. 2 that "The State shall endeavour, as respects the Muslims of Pakistan (a) to make the teaching of the Holy Quran and Islamiat compulsory, to encourage and facilitate the learning of Arabic language ..."
The National Education Policy 2017 declares in article 3.7.4 that: “Arabic as compulsory part will be integrated in Islamiyat from Middle to Higher Secondary level to enable the students to understand the Holy Quran.“ Furthermore, it specifies in article 3.7.6: “Arabic as elective subject shall be offered properly at Secondary and Higher Secondary level with Arabic literature and grammar in its course to enable the learners to have command in the language.“ This law is also valid for private schools as it defines in article 3.7.12: “The curriculum in Islamiyat, Arabic and Moral Education of public sector will be adopted by the private institutions to make uniformity in the society.“
Arabic is mainly used by some Filipino Muslims in both a liturgical and instructional capacity since the arrival of Islam and establishment of several Sultanates (like Sultanate of Maguindanao, Sultanate of Sulu and Sultanate of Ranaw) in the present-day state Philippines. Along with Malay, Arabic was the lingua franca of the Malay Archipelago among Muslim traders and the Malay aristocracy in the history. Arabic is taught for free and is promoted in some Islamic centres predominantly in the southernmost parts of Philippines.
Non-sovereign entities where Arabic is an official language
As of 2016, there are 9 non-sovereign entities where Arabic is an official language. The following is a list of non-sovereign entities and autonomous regions as well as territories where Arabic is an official or de facto official language.
|1.||Azawad||1,300,000||Co-official language, along with Tuareg||Africa|
|2.||Iraqi Kurdistan||5,300,000||Co-official language, along with Kurdish||Asia|
|3.||Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant||4,800,000||Official language||Asia|
|4.||Khatumo||1,000,000||Co-official language, along with Somali||Africa|
|5.||Puntland||4,280,000||Co-official language, along with Somali||Africa|
|6.||Rojava (also called Democratic Federation of Northern Syria)||4,600,000||Co-official language, along with Kurdish and Syriac||Asia|
|7.||Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic||502,585||Co-official language, along with Spanish||Africa|
|8.||Somaliland||4,500,000||Co-official language, along with Somali||Africa|
|9.||Syrian opposition a||3,500,000||Official language||Asia|
|a. The Syrian National Coalition is partially recognized as the sole legitimate government of the state Syrian Arab Republic.
The early Muslim conquests (Arabic: الفتوحات الإسلامية, al-Futūḥāt al-Islāmiyya) and the following Expansion of Islam (Arabic: انتشار الإسلام, Intishar al-Islām) led to the expansion of the Arabic language in Northern Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, the Caucasus, Western Asia, Central Asia and South Asia. Along with the religion of Islam, the Arabic language, Arabic number system and Arab customs spread throughout the entire Arab caliphate. The caliphs of the Arab dynasty established the first schools inside the empire which taught Arabic language and Islamic studies for all pupils in all areas within the caliphate. The result was (in those areas which belonged to the Arab empire) the creation of the society that was mostly Arabic-speaking because of the assimilation of native inhabitants.
During the period of the Umayyad Caliphate, the 5th Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik established Arabic instead of the local languages as the sole official state language of government across the entire caliphate.
In the history, Andalusian Arabic was the official language in Spain and Portugal, formerly Al-Andalus for more than 700 years until the fall of the last Islamic state in Iberia at Granada in 1492. Siculo-Arabic (or Sicilian Arabic) was a spoken language on the islands of Sicily and neighbouring Malta (at that time Emirate of Sicily) between the end of the ninth century and the end of the twelfth century. Furthermore, a form of Arabic was spoken on the Mediterranean island of Crete (in those days Emirate of Crete) from the late 820s (c. 824 or 827/828) until the Byzantine reconquest in 961.
While the Abbasid Caliphate originally gained power by exploiting the social inequalities against non-Arabs in the Umayyad Empire, during Abbasid rule the empire rapidly was Arabized. As knowledge was shared in the Arabic language throughout the empire, people of different nationalities and religions began gradually to speak Arabic in their everyday lives. Resources from other languages began to be translated into Arabic, and a unique Islamic identity began to form that fused previous cultures with Arab culture, creating a level of civilization and knowledge that was considered a marvel in Europe and the Western world.
The Arabic language remained the lingua franca of high culture under the Fatimids (909–1171), Spanish Umayyads (856–1031) in the Iberian Peninsula, and later Muslim dynasties in North Africa and Spain and of the Mamluks (125–1517) in Egypt and Syria-Palestine.
Unter the rule of Ya'qub (the founder of the Saffarid dynasty) the Persian language was introduced and replaced the Arabic language as the official language of the empire which comprises nowadays the modern states Iran, Afghanistan as well as parts of Pakistan, Tajikestan and Uzbekistan.
Arabic (alongside English) was an official language in South Sudan from 1863 (these days a part of Egypt Eyalet) until 2011 (that time the independent state Republic of South Sudan), when the former government canceled Arabic as an official language. Since 2011 English is the sole official language of South Sudan. The Arabic dialect Juba Arabic is still the lingua franca of the people in South Sudan.
Territories where Arabic was an official or de facto official language in the history and later replaced or canceled
There were several territories (which later became independent states) where Arabic was an official or de facto official language in the history and where the Arabic language has been replaced by other languages or just canceled. The following is a list of territories (which later became independent states) where Arabic was an official or de facto official language in the history.
|In the history
|In the history
|In the history
|1.||Afghanistan||Pashto, Dari||Pashto, Dari, various others||Umayyad Caliphate||Arabic||Pashto, Dari, Uzbek, Turkmen, Central Asian Arabic||661-750||Asia|
|2.||Armenia||Armenian||Armenian, various others||Umayyad Caliphate||Arabic||Arabic, Armenian||661-750||Asia|
|3.||Azerbaijan||Azeri||Azeri, various others||Umayyad Caliphate||Arabic||Arabic, Azeri||661-750||Asia|
|4.||Cyprus||Greek, Co-official language, along with Turkish||Greek, Turkish, various others||Umayyad Caliphate||Arabic||Siculo-Arabic||661-750||Asia|
|5.||Georgia (country)||Georgian||Georgian||Umayyad Caliphate||Arabic||Arabic, Georgian||661-750||Asia|
|6.||Greece||Greek||Greek||Emirate of Crete||Arabic||Arabic, Greek, various others||824–961||Europe|
|7.||Iran||Persian||Persian||Umayyad Caliphate||Arabic||Arabic, Persian||661-750||Asia|
|8.||Italy, (Sicily)||Italian||Italian, various others||Emirate of Sicily||Arabic||Siculo-Arabic, Byzantine Greek, Vulgar Latin||831–1091||Europe|
|9.||Kyrgyzstan||Kyrgyz||Kyrgyz, Uzbek||Umayyad Caliphate||Arabic||Central Asian Arabic, Kyrgyz||661-750||Asia|
|10.||Malta||Maltese, Co-official language, along with English||Maltese, English, various others||Emirate of Sicily||Arabic||Siculo-Arabic, Byzantine Greek, Vulgar Latin||831–1091||Europe|
|11.||Pakistan||Urdu, Co-official language, along with English||Urdu, various others||Umayyad Caliphate||Arabic||Urdu, Central Asian Arabic||661-750||Asia|
|12.||Portugal||Portuguese||Portuguese, various others||Umayyad Caliphate||Arabic||Andalusian Arabic, Mozarabic, Medieval Hebrew||711-1139||Europe|
|13.||Spain||Spanish||Spanish, various others||Umayyad Caliphate||Arabic||Andalusian Arabic, Mozarabic, Medieval Hebrew||711-1492||Europe|
|14.||South Sudan||English||Juba Arabic, various others||Egypt Eyalet||Arabic||Juba Arabic||1863-2011||Africa|
|15.||Tajikistan||Tajik||Tajik||Umayyad Caliphate||Arabic||Central Asian Arabic, Tajik||661-750||Asia|
|16.||Turkey||Turkish||Turkish, various others||Umayyad Caliphate||Arabic||North Mesopotamian Arabic||661-750||Asia|
|17.||Turkmenistan||Turkmen||Turkmen||Umayyad Caliphate||Arabic||Central Asian Arabic, Turkmen||661-750||Asia|
|18.||Uzbekistan||Uzbek||Uzbek||Umayyad Caliphate||Arabic||Central Asian Arabic, Uzbek||661-750||Asia|
- "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: ara".
- "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: ara".
- Robert D Hoberman (2007). Morphologies of Asia and Africa , Alan S. Kaye (Ed.), Chapter 13: Maltese Morphology. Eisenbrown.
Maltese is the chief exception: Classical or Standard Arabic is irrelevant in the Maltese linguistic community and there is no diglossia.
- Data taken from https://www.ethnologue.com/ Retrieved 21/03/2016
- Used data taken from https://www.ethnologue.com/ and country population to get percentage. Retrieved 21/03/2016
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- Mohammad Tahsin Siddiqi (1994), Hindustani-English code-mixing in modern literary texts, University of Wisconsin,
... Hindustani is the lingua franca of both India and Pakistan ...
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... By the time of British colonialism, Hindustani was the lingua franca of all of northern India and what is today Pakistan ...
- Ayres, Alyssa (2009). Speaking Like a State, Language and Nationalism in Pakistan. New York, USA: Cambridge University Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-521-51931-1.
General Ayub Khan was the first Pakistani leader to advocate the institution of Arabic language teaching as part of national planning.
- Ayres, Alyssa (2009). Speaking Like a State, Language and Nationalism in Pakistan. New York, USA: Cambridge University Press. pp. 39, 40. ISBN 978-0-521-51931-1.
Ayub`s educational plan emphasized Urdu and English as the primary language of Pakistan, but additionally recommended that Arabic be a secondary language of instruction along with English.
- Constitution of Pakistan: Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 - Article: 31 Islamic way of life, 1973, retrieved 13 June 2018
- Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training: National Education Policy 2017, p. 25, retrieved 19 June 2018
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