The following is a list of territories where English is an official language, that is, a language used in citizen interactions with government officials. In 2015, there were 54 sovereign states and 27 non-sovereign entities where English was an official language. Many country subdivisions have declared English an 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 formerly a Belgian territory, and Eritrea, which was an Italian colony where the British Empire maintained 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 at the national level in the United States, many states and territories within the United States have English as an official language.
^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.
^New Zealand Government (21 December 2007). International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Fifth Periodic Report of the Government of New Zealand(PDF) (Report). p. 89. Retrieved 21 April 2015. In addition to the Māori language, New Zealand Sign Language is also an official language of New Zealand. The New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006 permits the use of NZSL in legal proceedings, facilitates competency standards for its interpretation and guides government departments in its promotion and use. English, the medium for teaching and learning in most schools, is a de facto official language by virtue of its widespread use. For these reasons, these three languages have special mention in the New Zealand Curriculum.
^"[T]eaching of English continued in primary,secondary and tertiary level not because it was the official language but it became thelanguage of trade and commerce. Over the years, the prominence of English continued to rise. ... English language is dominantly present in every side of our national life while on the other hand in our constitution it is clearly declared that the language of the country is Bengali. In fact, nothing is said about the status of English language in our constitution. On one hand, economic activities in the private companies are carried out in English while there is a government law (Bengali procholon ain1987) that government offices must use Bengali in their official works. So from the government point of view Bengali is the national-official language of Bangladesh and English is the most important foreign language. But in reality English is the second language of the country and in many places English is more important than Bengali in Bangladesh." http://www.scribd.com/doc/53272796/Sucess-of-English-language-in-Bangladesh-rec
^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"(PDF). 1984. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
^Spolsky, Bernard (1999). Round Table on Language and Linguistics. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. pp. 169–70. ISBN0-87840-132-6. 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. ISBN1-4020-7911-7. 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). Language Policy: Hidden Agendas and New Approaches. Routledge. pp. 72–73. ISBN0-415-32864-0. 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.
^"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.
^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.