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List of multilingual countries and regions

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This is an incomplete list of areas with either multilingualism at the community level or at the personal level.

There is a distinction between social and personal bilingualism. Many countries, such as Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Finland, India, Ireland, South Africa and Switzerland, which are officially multilingual, may have many monolinguals in their population. Officially monolingual countries, on the other hand, such as France, can have sizable multilingual populations. Some countries have official languages but also have regional and local official languages, notably Brazil, China, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, Spain and Taiwan.


Central Africa[edit]

East Africa[edit]

Horn of Africa[edit]

  • Djibouti: French and Arabic (official)[17] plus Somali (official) & Afar.
  • Eritrea: Tigrinya, Arabic and English are predominantly used in commerce and government affairs. The use and development of nine Eritrean languages (Tigrinya, Bilen, Afar, Saho, Rashaida, Tigre, Kunama, Nara and Hidarib) is encouraged at the local level and children attend primary school through the fifth grade in their mother tongue. Italian is an additional language spoken in commerce.[18]
  • Ethiopia: The federal working language is Amharic. At a regional level, working languages are Tigrigna in Tigray,[19] Afarigna in Afar,[20] Afaan Oromoo in Oromia,[21] Somali in Somali region,[22] Harari in Harari region[23]
  • Somalia: Somali (official) and Arabic ("second language" official).[24] plus English and Italian (foreign languages)

North Africa[edit]

Southern Africa[edit]

West Africa[edit]


A trash can in Seattle labeled in four languages: English, Chinese (垃圾), Vietnamese (should be rác), and Spanish. The word basura is also present in the Tagalog language, spoken by a portion of the city's Filipino population.


Central America[edit]

  • Belize: English, Spanish and Mayan languages have some official usage,[citation needed] although the legacy of British rule emphasised English to be most commonly used for official purposes though the majority are Hispanophone.
  • Guatemala has one official language which is Spanish; however, there are 22[60] distinct Mayan languages. Maya, Garifuna and Xincan languages are recognized to be essential elements of the national identity.[61]
  • Honduras: Spanish is the official language, despite Afro-Caribbean English, Garifuna and indigenous languages can be found in the rural outskirts of the country.
  • In Nicaragua, even while Spanish is the official language (spoken by almost 95%, according to some sources[62]), there are other de facto languages such as Creole, English, Miskitu, Rama and Mayangna (Sumu) in their own linguistic communities. According to the Constitution, the languages of the Atlantic Coasts should be used officially in cases established by law.[63]
  • In Panama, Spanish is the official language,[64] and seven indigenous languages have been given official recognition[65]

North America[edit]

  • Canada is officially bilingual under the Official Languages Act and the Constitution of Canada that require the federal government to deliver services in both official languages: English and French. As well, minority language rights are guaranteed where numbers warrant. 56.9% of the population speak English as their first language while 22.9% are native speakers of French. The remaining population belong to some of Canada's many immigrant populations or to the indigenous population. See Bilingualism in Canada
    • Alberta has a specific French policy since 2017.[66]
    • The Canadian province of British Columbia has a sizable population that speaks Mandarin or Cantonese, particularly in the city of Vancouver and its satellite town of Richmond. There is a provincial law on First Nations languages.[67]
    • The Canadian province of New Brunswick, with a large Acadian population (33% French-speaking) is officially bilingual.[68]
    • The Canadian province of Quebec, (7.9% English-speaking)[citation needed] Note: Quebec's largest city, Montreal, is a multilingual city with half the population having French as their mother tongue, and the other half having other languages (including English) as their mother tongue (see Language demographics of Quebec). A majority of Montrealers, whether they call themselves francophone, anglophone or allophone, know both French and English.[69] The city's McGill University, an English-language institution, allows students to submit essays or tests in either English or French.[70] Although there is a sizable English-speaking population in Quebec, French is the only official language of the provincial government. At the same time, many services are provided in English, such as health services, education, legislative activities and judiciary services.[71] Many government services are available in English and French. [citation needed] In Kahnawake reserve, Mohawk is the official language.[72]
    • Manitoba has a particular French Language Services Policy[73] and bilingual in capital city Winnipeg, as well as a special law on recognition of seven indigenous languages.[74]
    • Nova Scotia has a governmental agency for Scots Gaelic language and culture affairs.[75] French is regionally spoken, with a special law on French-language services.[76]
    • In Newfoundland and Labrador, in the autonomous area of Nunatsiavut, English and Inuttut are co-official[77] There is also a particular provincial French Language Services Policy[78] In Port au Port Peninsula French language is used as well.[79][80][81]
    • Nunavut is a Canadian territory with a population that is 85% Inuit.[82] According to Official Languages Act, its official languages are Inuit, English and French.[83]
    • Northwest Territories have Chipewyan, Cree, English, French, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, South Slavey and Tłı̨chǫ Yatıì as the official languages.[84]
    • Ontario delivers services under the French Language Services Act.
    • In Prince Edward Island there is a Francophone region.[85]
    • Saskatchewan has a particular French-language Services Policy.[86]
    • Yukon allows the use of Yukon languages in its legislative assembly, along with French and English.[87]
    • In the 2006 Canadian census, information and questions are available in sixty-two languages, including eighteen First Nations languages.
    • The city of Toronto is one of the most multilingual cities in the world.[88] It is the home to over a dozen daily media outlets of different languages, including the Italian daily Corriere Canadese[89] and the Chinese daily Sing Tao.[90]
  • Greenland: Greenlandic is the official language. Danish and English are spoken and taught; and all Greenlanders are Danish-Greenlandic bilinguals.
  • Mexico: The government recognizes 62 indigenous languages,[citation needed] including Nahuatl, spoken by more than 1.5 million people and Aguacatec spoken by 27 people, along with Spanish. Indigenous languages are recognised as national languages in areas where they are spoken.[91] There is no official language at the federal level, although Spanish is the de facto state language.
    • In Guerrero, state constitution provides for use of indigenous languages in education and translating of main provincial laws to these languages.[92]
    • In Yucatán, Yucatec Maya language is recognised in the state constitution.[93]
    • In Oaxaca state constitution, 15 indigenous communities are listed. Certain use of their languages in education and court proceedings is provided for.[94]
    • In Puebla state constitution, use of indigenous languages in courts and education is provided for[95]
    • In Campeche state constitution, use of indigenous languages in courts and teaching them in schools are provided for.[96]
    • In Quintana Roo state constitution, use of indigenous languages in courts and education is provided for; also, the laws are to be published in Maya language.[97]
    • In Chihuahua state constitution, use of indigenous languages in courts, education, health care and government-disseminated information is provided for.[98]
    • In Chiapas state constitution, use of indigenous languages in courts and education is provided for.[99]
  • In the United States, at the federal level, there is no official language, although there have been efforts to make English the official language. Use of several languages in electoral process under certain circumstances is provided for by federal law, including Spanish in the whole states of Florida, California and Texas.[100] There are federal statutes promoting Native American languages: Native American Languages Act of 1990 and Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act.[101]

South America[edit]

  • Argentina has several ethnic communities of European, Asian and indigenous origins (the Andean and northeast regions), who speak their own languages,[specify] but uses de facto Spanish as the official language of the country. In most of the country, there is a sizable but bilingual Italian-speaking population.
  • Bolivia is officially multilingual, supporting Spanish and 36 native languages.[128]
  • Brazil, Portuguese (official) and upwards to 100 languages spoken mainly in the urban areas (European and Asian) and indigenous languages in the Amazon. The use of indigenous languages in primary education is enshrined in the constitution.[129]
  • Chile uses de facto Spanish as official language, but there are not an act that declares officiality. The Indigenous Act ratified in 1992 permites the official usage of four indigenous languages: Aimara, Mapudungun, Quechua and Rapa Nui (Easter Island in Polynesia) inside the indigenous communities and areas with high native population density.[142] In the southern portion, there is a sizable but bilingual German-speaking population.
  • Colombia The official language is Spanish. Languages of ethnic groups are official in their territories.[143]
    English is co-official in San Andres and Providencia.[144]
  • Ecuador defines Spanish as its official language, but Spanish, Quechua and Shuar – as official languages of intercultural relations in the Article 2 of the 2008 Constitution.[145]
  • Falkland Islands, English is the official & dominant language. Spanish is spoken by a minority of the population who comes from Chile and Argentina.
  • Guyana, English (official), Guyanese Hindustani (now mostly used among elders only from Indo-Guyanese community), Chinese, indigenous languages, and a small Portuguese-speaking community. The Amerindian Act orders the National Toshaos Council to promote the recognition and use of Amerindian languages.[146]
  • Paraguay, More than 46% of its population is bilingual[147] in Guaraní and Spanish (both official languages of the Republic[148]), of whom 37% speak only Guaraní and 8% only Spanish but the latter increases with the use of Jopará. There is a large Mennonite German colony in the Gran Chaco region as well.[149][150]
  • Peru's official languages are Spanish and, in the zones where they are predominant, Quechua, Aymara, and other aboriginal languages.[151][152] In addition to that, in Peru there is a large community of immigrants, of which few keep their languages. Within those, there are the Japanese and the Chinese (Cantonese dialect), for example and in smaller numbers, the Germans (central Andes), Italian, the Arabic speakers, and the Urdu speakers retain their native languages in Peru. The last two are products of the recent wave of immigrants from Palestine and Pakistan. Lately English has been used by American and British residents.[citation needed]
  • In Suriname, Dutch, Sranan, and English are spoken by large segments of the population (as the national, de facto working language, and common educational language, respectively). In addition, Chinese, Javanese, and various Indian languages, such as Hindustani, are spoken as well.[153]
  • Uruguay has a large Italian-speaking minority also proficient in Spanish. Its border with Brazil has a mixed Portuguese-speaking presence.[citation needed]
  • Venezuela has declared Spanish the official language, while there are some European and Arabic languages spoken in urban areas, Caribbean English dialects in the Caribbean and indigenous languages spoken in the Guayana department. The prominent additional European languages spoken are Italian and German. The use of native languages also has official status for native peoples.[154]


Central Asia[edit]


A sign in the Charyn Canyon indicating a tourist trail written in Kazakh, Russian and English.

Kazakh and Russian both have official status—Kazakh as the "state" language and Russian as "officially used on equal grounds along with the Kazakh language".[155] Kazakhstan is taking its huge step into multilingualism by accepting the trilingualism policy and making changes in law. Former president Nursultan Nazarbaev noted that "The multinationality and multilingualism are one of the values and the main feature of our state. "Dariga Nazarbayeva, then deputy prime minister and daughter of the then president, said in February 2016 that Kazakh children should learn Chinese in addition to Kazakh, Russian and English. “China is our friend, our trading partner and the biggest investor in the economy of our country", she said. "In the near future, we all need to know Chinese.”[156]


Kyrgyz is the state language and Russian "used in the capacity of an official language".[157]


Tajik as the state language and Russian, designated as language of interethnic communication in the constitution,[158] are widely spoken.[specify]


In Uzbekistan, Uzbek (official), Tajik, and Russian are all widely spoken.[specify] Use of Russian (alongside Uzbek) is foreseen for notarized documents and civic records[159][160]


In the autonomous Karakalpakstan, Karakalpak is an official one, alongside Uzbek.[161]

East Asia[edit]

  • In Mainland China, Standard Mandarin (Putonghua) is the official language and is spoken in all regions. It is used for official and formal purposes, by the media, and in education as the language of instruction. However, on money notes, there are texts both in Mandarin (Han) and in Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, and Zhuang.[162] In every locality and region, local varieties of Chinese are spoken in daily life. These range from being quite similar to Putonghua, such as Tianjin dialect, to those that are mutually unintelligible with Putonghua such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai dialect (Wu) or Guangzhou dialect (Cantonese). In the autonomous regions, minority languages are used (such as Tibetan in Tibet[163] or Mongolian in Inner Mongolia,[164] Uyghur, Kazakh and others in Xinjiang[165]).
  • Japan: a special law provides for promotion of Ainu in Hokkaido[166]
  • Taiwan: A national language in Taiwan is legally defined as "a natural language used by an original people group of Taiwan and the Taiwan Sign Language".[167] This includes Formosan languages, Hakka, Mandarin and Taiwanese Hokkien.
  • In Hong Kong, English and Chinese are official languages.[168] All road signs are written in both languages. English is the dominant language in the judiciary and in higher education. Hong Kong Cantonese is the first language of the majority of the population, and is the dominant language in many aspects of everyday life. While Cantonese is the widely spoken form of Chinese in Hong Kong, Standard Mandarin is also taught in schools. The degrees of proficiency in English and Mandarin vary from person to person.
  • In Macau, both Chinese and Portuguese are official languages.[169] While Cantonese is the dominant form of Chinese, Standard Mandarin (Putonghua) is also spoken. Chinese is taught in all schools, while Portuguese is mainly taught in government schools. In addition, English is also taught in many schools. Macanese Patois, a local Portuguese-based creole generally known as Patuá, is now spoken only by a few older Eurasian population.[170]

North Asia[edit]

  • Russia holds a List of minor indigenous peoples of Russia. This list currently mentions 50 peoples[171] (40 until an amendment in 2015), and the "Law on the guarantees of the rights of the minor indigenous peoples of Russia" guarantees among other Federal programmes for the protection and development of their languages and cultures (article 5). The article 10 of the same law guarantees to people belonging to these peoples the right to preserve and develop their native language, and the right to receive and broadcast information in their native languages and to create media.[172]
  • Several Republics of Russia make locally official the language of the main people(s) of those Republics:
    • Buryatia – Russian and Buryat are co-official[173]
    • Altai Republic – Russian and Altai are co-official[174]
    • Tuva – Russian and Tuvan are co-official[175]
    • Khakassia – Russian and Khakas are co-official[176]
    • Sakha Republic – Russian and Sakha are co-official.[177] The law "about the languages of the Sakha Republic" mentions in its article 6 that Evenki, Even, Yukagir, Dolgan, Chukchi languages are recognized as official in the places where those peoples live and are used as equal as the national languages. The Sakha Republic guarantees protection and care for the preservation and the free development of those languages. It is worth noting, however, that Chukchi has no official status in the neighbouring Chukotka. It is closely related to Koryak which is official in the North of Kamchatka (see below).
  • Administrative-territorial units with special status (formerly Federal subjects of Russia, downgraded in 2007–2008):

South Asia[edit]

A sign-board that indicates the direction to Sabarimala, a pilgrim station in India. The multilingual board is written in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and English (in that order, from top to bottom)
  • Afghanistan: Pashto and Dari (Afghan Persian) are the official[178] and most widely spoken languages in Afghanistan, with the former serving as a national language and the latter spoken as a lingua franca. Other minor languages include Uzbek and Turkmen, Balochi and Pashayi, Nuristani (Askunu, Kamkata-viri, Vasi-vari, Tregami and Kalasha-ala), Pamiri (Shughni, Munji, Ishkashimi and Wakhi), Brahui, Hindko, Kyrgyz.[179]
  • Bangladesh: Standard Bengali is the official and most widely spoken language. However, there are many local languages (some of which are considered Bengali dialects) spoken in different regions of Bangladesh, as well as minority languages like Chakma and Urdu. Speakers of these languages are often bilingual in their local language and Standard Bangla. Additionally, the use of English is widespread in education and the judiciary in the country.
  • India: There are 22 official languages in the states and territories of India (Including Hindi and English, the languages with official use by the Union Government[180]). The largest, Hindi, is spoken natively by 26% of the population.[181] English is also used, although mainly in some urban parts of the country. A large number of students with a high-school education would generally be trilingual – speaking their own native language, in addition to Hindi and English, with varying fluency—because of the nation's long-standing three language formula that encourages students to learn English and another Indian language as second- and third-languages.[182]
  • Nepal: The 2011 Nepal census reports 123 Nepalese languages spoken as a mother tongue. Most belong to the Indo-Aryan and Sino-Tibetan language families. These are considered to be national languages, and according to the Constitution of Nepal 2015 they are official in their own regions. Despite this, Nepali was selected as the sole working language for the Nepali government.
  • Pakistan. The national language is English and Urdu; English was to be replaced by Urdu however this has not occurred despite many attempts in the past to do so. Pakistan is unique in that both English and Urdu are non-native languages and nearly all Pakistani's need to learn them as a second and/or a third language.[183] There are many regional languages and dialects (the latter are often unintelligible from other dialects of the "same language"). Many high-school and college educated Pakistanis are trilingual, being able to speak English and Urdu as well as their own regional language with varying fluency.
  • Sri Lanka. Sinhala and Tamil are official languages. English is referred to as the link language in the constitution.[184]

Southeast Asia[edit]

  • Brunei: Malay (official) and English[185]
  • Cambodia: Khmer is the official language, but French is spoken by a minority and sometimes used in government and education.[citation needed] Mandarin is spoken in business and commerce.
  • East Timor – Tetum and Portuguese are the official languages; English and Indonesian "shall be working languages within the public administration side by side with official languages as long as it is deemed necessary"[186]
  • Indonesia is the largest bilingual country in the world, with approximately 200 million people speak more than one language. Indonesians speak about 746 different languages.[187] Javanese has the most users in terms of native speakers (about 80 million). However, the sole official (or so-called "unity language") is Indonesian which has only 30 million L1 speakers (compared to Indonesia 260 million population). The role of Indonesian is important to glue together different ethnics and languages in Indonesia. Though Indonesian is considered the nation's only official language, regional governments have rights to conduct regional languages study at schools. Many people in Indonesia are bilingual at an early age. They speak a local native language with their families whereas the official Indonesian language is used to communicate with people from other regions and is taught in schools as a compulsory subject.
  • In Laos, Lao is the official language, but French is understood and used by government.
  • In Malaysia, nearly all people have a working knowledge of Malay and English.[citation needed] Malay is the official language of the country, along with English in the state of Sarawak.[188][189][190] Malay and English are compulsory subjects taught in all public schools. Chinese (Mandarin) and Tamil are spoken by the Chinese and Indian communities respectively, and are the languages of instruction in Chinese and Tamil primary schools respectively.[191] Among the Chinese community, apart from Mandarin, several Chinese languages especially Hakka, Hokkien, Cantonese and Teochew and among Indians, Tamil is the most spoken and dominant language. The indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak speak their ancestral languages (Dayak, Iban etc.). However, it is not uncommon for the locals to be fluent in several of the above languages.[specify] The Constitution provides for use of Sabah and Sarawak languages in native courts or for any code of native law and custom.[192]
  • Philippines: The Philippine constitution. designates Filipino as the national language and, along with English, as official languages. Regional languages are designated as auxiliary official languages in the regions which shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein. Spanish and Arabic are designated to be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis.[193] Some people in native Tagalog areas are bilingual, while in non-Tagalog areas it is common to be multilingual in Filipino, English, and in one or more of the regional languages, or as in other cases in languages such as Spanish, Minnan (Hokkien), and Arabic due to factors such as ancestry and religion. Eleven regional languages are recognised by the government as auxiliary official languages in their respective regions, while 90+ other languages and dialects are spoken by various groups.
  • Singapore: English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay and Tamil are all official languages. Malay is the national language.[194] English is the main language used in Singapore.[195] As English links the different races and ethnic groups, a group with diverse races and ethnicities communicate using English. Most of the population can speak, read and write in English. In addition to English, many Singaporeans can speak their respective ethnic language like Mandarin Chinese fairly well, as it is a compulsory subject in school. In Chinese communities, the older generation usually speak their own language like Hakka and Hokkien besides Mandarin and/or English.
  • Thailand: Thai is the main and sole official language in Thailand. There are different dialects such as Phitsanulok, Ayutthaya, Suphan Buri (traditional dialect), Thonburi, but Standard Thai is influenced by Thai Chinese in Bangkok, Isan which is influenced from Lao and widely used in the northeastern area,[specify] Southern Thai is spoken in the southern provinces, Northern Thai is spoken in the provinces that were formerly part of the independent kingdom of Lanna. Karen languages are spoken along the border with Burma, Khmer near Cambodia (and previously throughout central Thailand), and Malay in the south near Malaysia. The Thai hill tribes speak numerous small languages. Also, there is a big population of Chinese descent people in Thailand and the old generation often use Teochew as well as Hakka as their first language.[specify] The new generation tends to speak them as a second language or some may not know it at all.
  • Vietnam: Vietnamese is the official language, and English is the most commonly used and studied second language, especially in education, international relations, and the media. In addition, French is spoken by a small minority of people and elders as it used to be the most common second language. The right to use own language, also in courts, is foreseen in the constitution.[196]

Western Asia[edit]

  • Bahrain: Arabic is the official language, and English is the most commonly used and studied second language, especially in education, international relations, and the media. In addition, Persian and Urdu are widely spoken.[citation needed]
  • In Iran, Persian is the sole official language, but Azerbaijani (along with related varieties such as Qashqa'i and Kalaj) has upwards of 15 million speakers.[citation needed] Other minority languages include Kurdish, Turkmen, and Balochi. Assyrian is spoken by a Christian minority in the vicinity of Urmia. In the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan, most people speak Khuzestani Persian, Khuzestani Arabic, and Standard Persian, sometimes in addition to their own community languages such as Lur, Qashqa'i, Domari or Mandaic where applicable.
  • In Iraq, Arabic is the official language of the state, Kurdish is the official language of the north where 4 million native speakers live. The use of Turkmen, Assyrian, and Armenian in education is provided for in the Constitution.[197] Other languages also exist among Christian communities north of and around Baghdad, such as Aramaic. English is used as well.
  • In Israel, Hebrew has the official status of the state's language and Arabic – a special status with protection of its pre-2018 functions[198] (see Languages of Israel). Jewish immigrants to Israel (especially from Europe) have a different mother tongue, such as Arabic, Amharic, Yiddish, Ladino, Russian, Romanian, Polish, Ukrainian, English, or French and many Jewish immigrants from Latin America speak Spanish and Portuguese. The Arab population of Israel speaks Arabic. Functionally, almost all Arabs in Israel also speak Hebrew. English is widely spoken and understood as a second language by both Arabs and Jews. Officially, road signs must be in Hebrew, Arabic, and a romanized Hebrew transliteration.
  • In Lebanon, Arabic is the official and national language; the Constitution provides for the conditions of using French to be provided by law.[199] Many Lebanese are fluent in French and in English.[citation needed] Armenian is also a language mainly used in the Armenian community.[200]
  • In Qatar, Arabic is the official language, and English is common language.
  • Syria:
    • Arabic is the official language, English is taught as a second language in schools starting from first grade, and in middle school you get to choose between French and Russian as a third language.
    • Rojava: the constitution of the de facto autonomous region designates Kurdish, Arabic and Syriac as official languages.[201]
  • United Arab Emirates: Arabic is the official language of the country, although English is an unofficial language it is widely accepted as the lingua franca as over 89% of the population is migrant. Almost everyone has a working knowledge of English. All road signs are written in both Arabic and English. English is dominant in higher education and is a required ability for most local jobs. English is a compulsory subject in all public schools and is the language of instruction for mathematics and science.[202]


Central Europe[edit]

  • Austria has one official language, German. However, it also has Croatian and Slovenian minorities, all of whose languages are protected under federal laws.[203] Certain functions are also guaranteed for Romany, Hungarian, Czech and Slovak in Vienna and Burgenland, under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.[204]
  • In the Czech Republic, several municipalities of Trans-Olza area have official bilingualism (Czech and Polish).[204] Bilingual signs are permitted if a minority constitutes at least a 10% of the population of the municipality. German is recognized as a minority language because of the previous visible German presence in Bohemia.
  • Germany has German as its official national language.

Low German is recognized as a regional language in at least five north German states. Lower Sorbian is an official minority language in Brandenburg, Upper Sorbian in Saxony, Sater Frisian in a part of Lower Saxony, and North Frisian varieties and Danish in Schleswig-Holstein. A language without its own territory, Romany (including the language of the Sinte people) is an official minority language as well.[204] Germany is home to large numbers of people from other regions, and some of their languages, such as Turkish, Russian, and Polish, are widely used throughout the country. However, those languages are considered foreign and thus are given no official status.

  • Hungary, the official language is Hungarian. The country recognizes Beás, Croatian, German, Romani, Romanian, Bosnian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene languages.[204] Use of those languages for certain functions is provided for by law, applying to localities where the share of a relevant minority exceeds 10% or, for wider functions, 20%.[205]
  • Poland – 20 bilingual communes in Poland (mostly Polish-German) speak forms of the German language. Belarusian, Czech, Hebrew, Yiddish, Lithuanian, German, Armenian, Russian, Slovak, and Ukrainian are recognised as national minorities languages while Karaim, Lemko, Romani, and Tatar as ethnic minorities languages.[204][206]
  • Slovakia has a Hungarian minority of 520,000 (9.7%). Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, German, Bosnian, Serbian, Hungarian, Polish, Roma, Russian, Ruthenian, and Ukrainian languages are recognized as regional or minority languages, with guarantees of their use in municipalities where Slovak citizens belonging to the national minorities form at least 20% of the population.[204]
  • Switzerland has four national languages; German, French, Italian, and Romansh.[207] The cantons Valais, Fribourg and Bern are bilingual (French and German), while canton Graubünden is trilingual (German, Romansh, and Italian). Most Swiss nowadays learn English to communicate to Swiss speaking other native languages, as English is neutral among speakers of different national languages, making it a lingua franca, with no one national language dominating the other.[208]

Eastern Europe[edit]

Northern Europe[edit]

Southern Europe[edit]

  • Italy. The official language overall is Italian. However, the Italian law n. 482/1999 recognizes and protects twelve minority languages, like Sardinian, Friulian, Occitan, Greek, Albanian and other linguistic minorities.[236] Bilingualism is also applied in some territories:
    • In the province of South Tyrol German is co-official.[237]
    • In the Aosta Valley region French is co-official,[238]
    • as is Slovene in some municipalities of the provinces of Trieste and Gorizia.
    • Ladin municipalities of South Tyrol are trilingual (Italian, Ladin, and German).
    • In Veneto, there is a regional law on Venetian linguistic and cultural heritage.[239] In 2016, an additional law has been adopted, providing for the use of Venetian in schools, public institutions and toponymical signs.[240]
    • In Calabria, there is a regional law on minority languages, with Greek, Albanian and Franco-Provençal specifically named.[241]
    • In Piedmont, there is a regional law on promoting linguistic heritage, with Occitan, German, French and Franco-Provençal minorities specifically named.[242]
    • In Sardinia, a 1997 law and a 2018 law establish detailed status for Sardinian, and give official recognition to Catalan in Alghero and to Gallurese, Tabarchino and Sassarese.[243][244]
  • Malta has two official languages, Maltese and English.[245] Italian is also spoken by a large percentage of the population.

Southeastern Europe[edit]

  • Albania has one official language, Albanian. In some regions of southern Albania, Greek serves as co-official. Other languages such as Italian and Greek are widely spoken throughout the country, and are considered minority languages. Recognised minority languages include: Aromanian, Romanian, Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, French, Italian and Greek. The majority of Albanians[clarification needed] are multilingual, speaking more than 3 languages, which is due to the large number of Albanian immigrants in Europe and elsewhere, as well as political and socio-cultural relations with their neighbours. As a consequence, Albanians are considered one of the most linguistically diverse peoples in Europe. During Albania's Italian occupation and the subsequent communist period, Italian television and radio were a source of education and entertainment for many Albanians; as a result, 60–70% of Albania's population has a command of[clarification needed] Italian. Albania's Greek communities, as well as returning migrants from Greece and Greek national arrivals, continue to raise the status of Greek in the country. Albania is also part of the Francophonie, with 320,000 French speakers.
  • Cyprus has two official languages: Greek and Turkish.[246] Both languages were spoken throughout the island before 1974. After 1974, and the partition of the island, Turkish became the sole official language in the Turkish-Cypriot-controlled north whereas the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus retains both languages as official. English is also widely spoken and understood throughout the island.
  • Moldova – the Law concerning the rights of persons belonging to the national minorities and the legal status of the organizations thereof provides for the use of Romanian and Russian in tertiary education, communication with authorities and publishing regulatory acts.[clarification needed] It also provides for the use of Ukrainian, Gagauz, Bulgarian, Hebrew, Yiddish and other (unnamed) languages in education.[247]
  • In Romania, the official language is Romanian, but significant minority languages are recognized at a local level, with commitments made in respect of use of Bulgarian, Czech, Croatian, German, Hungarian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Turkish and Ukrainian in areas where their share of speakers is at least 20%.[204] The biggest ethnic minority is the Hungarian community of 1.4 million (6.6%).
  • In Turkey, the Constitution of Turkey defines Turkish as the only official language of the country (art. 3) and explicitly prohibits educational institutions to teach any language other than Turkish as a mother tongue to Turkish citizens (art. 42). Only exception is Greek and Armenian languages, which can be taught in schools as part of non-Muslim minorities rights of Treaty of Lausanne.[250] In 2013, the Ministry of Education introduced Kurdish, Abkhaz, Adyghe and Laz languages into the academic programme of the basic schools as optional classes from the fifth year on.[251]
    • In 2010, Kurdish municipalities in the southeast decided to begin printing water bills, marriage certificates and construction and road signs, as well as emergency, social and cultural notices, in Kurdish alongside Turkish. Friday sermons by imams began to be delivered in the language, and Esnaf provided Kurdish price tags.[252] Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish, prohibiting the language in education and broadcast media.[253][254] In March 2006, Turkey allowed private television channels to broadcast in Kurdish. However, the Turkish government said that they must avoid showing children's cartoons, or educational programs that teach Kurdish, and could broadcast only for 45 minutes a day or four hours a week.[255] However, most of these restrictions on private Kurdish television channels were relaxed in September 2009.[256]
  • In successor countries of the former SFR Yugoslavia, official languages of Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin are mutually intelligible by all four groups (see Serbo-Croatian). Other smaller languages in the new republics of Slovenia (Slovene) and North Macedonia (Macedonian) are not. There are other languages that have co-official status in some parts of these countries (e.g. Italian in Istria, Hungarian in Vojvodina).

Southwestern Europe[edit]

Western Europe[edit]

  • Belgium has three official languages: Dutch (59%) in the north, French (40%) in the south and a small minority speaks German (1%). Its bilingual capital, Brussels is mainly French-speaking, with Dutch speakers as a minority. These languages have the status of 'official language' only in specified language areas as defined by the constitution.[269] In Flanders, 59% and 53% of the Flemings know French and English respectively; in Wallonia, only 19% and 17% know Dutch or English. In each region, Belgium's third official language, German, is notably less known than Dutch, French or English.[270] Wallonia recognises all of its vernacular dialect groups as regional languages, Flanders does not.[citation needed]
  • France has a monolingual policy for the republic to conduct government business only in French. There are, however, levels of fluency in regional languages: Alsatian, Basque (the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques), Breton (the regional government of Brittany has adopted some policies to promote the teaching of Breton[271]), Catalan (the department of Pyrénées-Orientales has a particular charter for supporting Catalan[272]), Corsican (Corsican teaching in the island's schools is provided for by law[273]), Flemish, Franco-Provençal, Lorraine Franconian and Occitan (sometimes called Provençal). The country as whole is linguistically dominated by French.
  • Ireland, the first official language of Ireland is Irish, with the second being English.[274] English is the first language of the vast majority of the population.
  • Luxembourg is a rare example of a truly trilingual society, in that it not only has three official languages – Luxembourgish, French and German[275] – but has a trilingual education system. For the first four years of school, Luxembourgish is the medium of instruction, before giving way to German, which in turn gives way to French. (In addition, children learn English and sometimes another European language, usually Spanish or Italian.) Similarly in the country's parliament, debates are conducted in Luxembourgish, draft legislation is drafted in German, while the statute laws[clarification needed] are in French. Due to the large population of Portuguese descent, the Portuguese language is fairly prevalent in Luxembourg, though it remains limited to the relationships inside this community. Portuguese has no official status, but the administration sometimes makes certain informative documents available in Portuguese.
  • The Netherlands has four official languages. Dutch is the primary language, and West Frisian is recognized as a minority language[204] and spoken by between 300,000 and 700,000 people. West Frisian is mostly spoken in the province of Friesland, where it is the official first[citation needed] language. Low Saxon is recognized as a regional language in the northeast of the country, and Limburgish is an official regional language in Netherlands Limburg.[204] In Amsterdam, certain services are provided in English; English is official in the Dutch municipalities of Saba and Sint Eustatius. The fourth official language is Papiamento, spoken on Bonaire.[276]
  • The only national language of the United Kingdom is English, however, there are several regional languages recognised to varying degrees in the UK or the Crown dependencies:
    • England: Cornish is currently recognised under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.[277] 557 people, mainly living in Cornwall, reported as speaking Cornish in 2011.[278]
    • Wales: 611,000 Welsh speakers (but no monoglots), including the majority of the population in parts of north and west Wales.[279] English is widely used. English and Welsh have equal official status in law. On road signs and branding of devolved organisations, Welsh is usually placed first above English. Prior to 2016, local authorities could decide whether Welsh or English should be first on road signage, leading to different orders of the languages between English-speaking and Welsh-speaking authorities, since 2016, new signage must be Welsh-first, remaining English-first signage and road paintings would become Welsh-first when they would've otherwise been replaced.[280]
    • Northern Ireland: Ulster Scots, a variety of Scots, is spoken by some in Northern Ireland, but again English is far more commonly used and Ulster Scots is less actively used in media. Irish and Ulster Scots now both have official[specify] status in Northern Ireland as part of the 1998 Belfast Agreement;[281] certain functions are granted to those two languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.[204]
    • Scotland: 58,652 Gaelic speakers, mostly concentrated in the Highlands and the Hebrides, the traditional heartland of Gaelic culture. The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 provides for the status of the Gaelic language as an official language of Scotland commanding equal respect to the English language.[282] Also Scots with approximately 2 to 3 million speakers – a Germanic language closely related to English.
    • Jersey: along with English, the use of French for petitioning the parliament is provided for by its Standing Orders.[283] Jèrriais is official as well.
    • Isle of Man: the main language is English, but a small percentage of the population have some knowledge of Manx Gaelic, which is used officially to a limited extent, e.g. in bilingual street signs, some official documents and for ceremonial purposes.
    • Guernsey: the main language is English. French is spoken as well.



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