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, 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, Mexico, Russia, Spain.


Central Africa[edit]

East Africa[edit]

Horn of Africa[edit]

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. Tagalog also uses the Spanish word.
  • Argentina has several ethnic communities of European (esp. the Welsh language in Patagonia), Asian and indigenous origins (the Andean and northeast regions), who speak their own languages,[specify] but Spanish is the sole official language of the country.
  • Aruba: Papiamento and Dutch are the official languages, with Spanish and English also widely spoken. All four languages are taught in schools.[41]
  • 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.
  • Bolivia is officially multilingual, supporting Spanish and 36 native languages.[42]
  • 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.[43]

[45] [46]

  • 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. 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
  • Caribbean Netherlands — Dutch (overall), English (Sint Eustatius and Saba) and Papiamentu (Bonaire)[54]
  • 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.[55] 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.[56]
    English is co-official in San Andres and Providencia.[57]
  • CuraçaoPapiamento, Dutch and English are official languages.[58]
  • 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.[59]
  • In Guatemala, the official language is Spanish, however, there are 23[citation needed] distinct Mayan languages. Maya, Garifuna and Xincan languages are recognized to be essential elements of the national identity.[60]
  • Guyana, English (official), Hindi, 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.[61]
  • Haiti: Creole and French[62]
  • Honduras: Spanish is the official language, despite Afro-Caribbean English, Garifuna and indigenous languages can be found in the rural outskirts of the country.
  • Mexico: The government recognizes 62 indigenous languages[citation needed], including Nahuatl spoken by more than 1.5 million people and Aquacatec spoken by 27 people, along with Spanish. Indigenous languages are recognised as national languages in areas where they are spoken[63] There is no official language at the federal level, although Spanish is the de facto state language.
    • In Yucatán, Yucatec Maya language is recognised in state constitution[64]
    • In Oaxaca state constitution, 15 indigenous communities are listed. Certain use of their languages in education and court proceedings is provided for.[65]
    • In Campeche state constitution, use of indigenous languages in courts and teaching them in schools are provided for[66]
    • 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[67]
    • In Chihuahua state constitution, use of indigenous languages in courts, education, health care and government-disseminated information is provided for[68]
    • In Chiapas state constitution, use of indigenous languages in courts and education is provided for[69]
  • In Nicaragua, even while Spanish is the official language spoken broadwide (almost 95%, according to some sources[citation needed]), there are other de facto languages such as Creole, 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.[70]
  • Paraguay, 48% of its population is bilingual[citation needed] in Guaraní and Spanish (both official languages of the Republic[71]), 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.[citation needed]
  • Peru's official languages are Spanish and, in the zones where they are predominant, Quechua, Aymara, and other aboriginal languages.[72][73] 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 also have much influence is the English by the number of tourists and American and British residents.
  • Puerto Rico's official languages[74] and languages of legislature[75] are Spanish and English, yet 85 percent of its inhabitants reported that they did not speak English "very well."[citation needed]
  • In Suriname, Dutch, Sranan, and English are spoken by almost everyone.[citation needed] In addition, Chinese and various Indian languages are spoken.
  • 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.[76]
  • Trinidad and Tobago - in the predominantly Creole-speaking country where English is official, Spanish is being introduced as the second language of bilingual traffic signs[98] and generally the "first foreign language"[99]
  • 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 use of native languages also has official status for native peoples[100]


  • In Afghanistan, Pashto and Dari (Afghan Persian) are the official[101] and most widely spoken languages. Other minor languages include Uzbek and Turkmen, Balochi and Pashayi, Nuristani (Ashkunu, Kamkata-viri, Vasi-vari, Tregami and Kalasha-ala), Pamiri (Shughni, Munji, Ishkashimi and Wakhi), Brahui, Hindko, Kyrgyz.[102]
  • 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]
  • Brunei: Malay (official), English[103]
  • Cambodia: Khmer is the official language, but French is spoken by a minority and sometimes used in government and education.[citation needed]
  • In 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.[104] 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[105] or Mongolian in Inner Mongolia,[106] Uyghur, Kazakh and others in Xinjiang[107]).
  • In Hong Kong, English and Chinese are official languages.[108] 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.[109] 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.
  • 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"[110]
  • India.
    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)
    There are 23 official languages in the states and territories of India (Including Hindi and English, the languages with official use in the whole federation[111]). The largest, Hindi, is spoken natively by 40% of the population. English is also widely used, although mainly in urban parts of the country. An Indian with a high-school education would generally be bilingual — speaking their own native language, in addition to English, with varying fluency, possibly Hindi as well, the languages being compulsorily (in select states) taught in most schools and colleges. see Languages of India.
  • Indonesia is the largest bilingual country in the world, with approximately 200 million people speak more than one language. Indonesian speak about 746 different languages.[112] Javanese has the most users in terms of native speakers (about 80 million). But interestingly, 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 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.[113] Other languages also exist among Christian communities north of and around Baghdad, such as Aramaic.
  • In Israel, Arabic and Hebrew both have official status (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 native Arab population of Palestine speaks Arabic. Functionally, almost all Arabs in Palestine also speak Hebrew. English is widely spoken and understood as a second language by both Arabs and Jews. Officially, road signs must be in Arabic, Hebrew, 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.[114] Many Lebanese are fluent in English and in French.[citation needed] Armenian is also a language mainly used in the Armenian community.[115]
  • 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.[116][117][118] Malay and English are compulsory subjects taught in all public schools, and English is the language of instruction for science and mathematics. 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.[citation needed] Among the Chinese community, apart from Mandarin, several Chinese dialects especially Hokkien, Cantonese and Teochew and among the Indian community, apart from Tamil, several Indian dialects especially Punjabi, Malayalam and Telugu are spoken by the respective communities. 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.[119]
  • Pakistan. The national language is Urdu; English was allowed to be used for official purposes until arrangements are made for its replacement by Urdu[120] 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.
  • 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.[121] 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.
  • Republics of Russia:
  • Singapore: English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay and Tamil are all official languages. Malay is the national language.[127] English is the main language used in Singapore.[128] As English links the different races, a group with diverse races 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 fairly well, as it is a compulsory subject in school. In Chinese communities, the older generation usually speak their own dialects besides Mandarin and/or English.
  • Sri Lanka. Sinhala and Tamil are official languages. English is referred to as the link language in the constitution.[129]
  • Syria
    • Rojava: the constitution of the de facto autonomous region designates Kurdish, Arabic and Syriac as official languages.[130]
  • Taiwan: Mandarin is the "official" language, but Taiwanese is commonly used in most people (especially adults and elders). In the Hakka community, some people are trilingual in Hakka, Mandarin and Taiwanese. Some 10 Aboriginal languages are also spoken in the mountain and eastern portion of the island. Their promotion and use are provided for by the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law[131] In 2017, a law providing for the use of indigenous languages in 55 municipalities was adopted.[132]
  • Tajikistan: Tajik as the state language and Russian, designated as language of interethnic communication in the constitution,[133] are widely spoken.[specify]
  • 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 their first language.[specify] The new generation tends to speak them as a second language or some may not know it at all,
  • Kazakhstan: Kazakh and Russian both have official status—Kazakh as the "state" language and Russian as "officially used on equal grounds along with the Kazak language".[134]
  • Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyz is the state language and Russian "used in the capacity of an official language".[135]
  • 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 the 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.[136]
  • 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[137][138]
    • In the autonomous Karakalpakstan, Karakalpak language is an official one, alongside Uzbek.[139]
  • 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.[140]


  • Albania has one official language, Albanian. Other languages such as Greek and Italian are heavily spoken without official recognition, yet are minority languages. Albania recognises[citation needed] 6 minorities languages; Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian, Romanian, Hungarian, Greek and Italian. Majority Albanians are polyglots, speaking more than 3 languages, which is due to the high amount of Albanian immigrants in Europe and elsewhere, as well as political, socio-cultural relations with their neighbours. Today, Albanians are considered one of the most linguistically diverse peoples in Europe. Italian is spoken by a large amount of Albanians that have learnt the language by watching Italian television. Influx of Greeks in the country due to the Euro Crisis is elevating the status of Greek in the country. Albania is also part of the Francophonie, with 320,000 French speakers.
  • Andorra has one official language, Catalan. Other languages (mainly Spanish, Portuguese and French) are also spoken without official recognition.
  • Austria has one official language, German. However it also has Croatian and Slovenian minorities, all of whose languages are protected under federal laws.[141] Certain functions are also guaranteed for Romany, Hungarian, Czech and Slovakian in Vienna and Burgenland, under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.[142]
  • Belarus has two official languages: Belarusian and Russian.[143]
  • Belgium has three official languages: Dutch (59%) in the north, French (31%) in the south and a small minority speaks German. Its bilingual capital, Brussels (10%), is mainly French, with Dutch as minority. These languages have the status of 'official language' only in specified language areas as defined by the constitution.[144] In Flanders, 59% and 53% of the Flemings know French or 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.[145] Wallonia recognises all of its vernacular dialect groups as regional languages, Flanders does not.[citation needed]
  • Cyprus has 2 official languages: Greek & Turkish.[146] 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.
  • In the Czech Republic, several municipalities of Zaolzie area have official bilingualism (Czech and Polish).[142] Bilingual signs are permitted if a minority constitutes at least a 10% of the population of the municipality.
  • Denmark has one official language, Danish, but in South Jutland, use of German for certain functions is provided for. In Greenland, Greelandic is the principal language, while Danish must be thoroughly taught.[142]
  • Estonia has one official language, Estonian, but there is also a sizeable Russian-speaking community (around 30% in 2000) who speak Russian. Russian and other minority languages can theoretically be used in communication with local government and state institutions within the borders of certain constituencies where most permanent residents belong to a respective national minority (Article 51 of the Constitution). Only citizens of Estonia are considered to belong to national minorities; thus, the provision is only applicable in three parishes and two towns.[147] Many[specify] Estonians can speak Russian, but many[specify] Russians are not fluent in Estonian including those who are Estonian citizens,[148] however fluency varies considerably between age groups.
  • Faroe Islands has two official languages: Faroese and Danish.[149] The other Scandinavian languages, Norwegian and Swedish, are understood by most without much difficulty.[150] English is taught in schools, often as a third language.
  • Finland is constitutionally bilingual and has therefore two equally national languages, Finnish and Swedish, and the minority languages Sami (Northern Sami, Inari Sami and Skolt Sami), Romani and Finnish Sign Language are recognized by the constitution.[151] Swedish is spoken by a minority, about 5.5% native speakers (Swedes in Finland) concentrated along the coast and on the Åland Islands. Municipalities are bilingual if the Swedish or Finnish minority is at least 6–8%. Åland is monolingually Swedish by law. Sami is official language (besides Finnish) in the municipalities of northern Finland.
  • France has a strict monolingual policy for the republic to conduct government business only in French. There are, however, levels of fluency in regional languages: Alsatian, Basque, Breton (the regional government of Britanny adopted some politics to promote teaching Breton[152]), Catalan (the department of Pyrénées-Orientales has a particular charter for supporting Catalan[153]), Corsican (teaching it in the island's schools is provided for by law)[154]), Flemish, Franco-Provençal, and Occitan (sometimes called Provençal). The country as whole is dominated by French linguistically.
  • Germany has German as its official national language. Low Saxon (“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.[142] 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.
  • Gibraltar is a British overseas territory whose sole official language is English. Given Gibraltar's size, most of the population is also fluent in Spanish due to its vicinity with Spain. Gibraltarians also use Llanito as their local vernacular.
  • Hungary, the official language is Hungarian. The country recognizes Beás, Croatian, German, Romani, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene languages.[142] Use of those languages for certain functions is provided for by law, applying to localitites where the share of a relevant minority exceeds 10% or, for wider functions, 20%.[155]
  • Ireland, the first official language of Ireland is Irish, with the second being English.[156] English is the first language of the majority of the population.
  • 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.[157] Bilingualism is also applied in some territories:
    • In the province of South Tyrol German is co-official.[158]
    • In the Aosta Valley region French is co-official,[159]
    • 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.[160] In 2016, an additional law has been adopted, providing for the use of Venetian in schools, public institutions and toponymical signs.[161]
    • In Calabria, there is a regional law on minority languages, with Greek, Albanian and Franco-Provençal specifically named[162]
    • In Piedmont, there is a regional law on promoting linguistic heritage, with Occitan, German, French and Franco-Provençal minorities specifically named.[163]
  • Kosovo has two official languages, Albanian and Serbian. Turkish, Bosnian, and Roma hold official status on a regional level.[164]
  • Latvia has one official language, Latvian. Liv language is recognized as an autochthonous (in the Livonian coast, it is allowed to form toponyms in Liv alongside Latvian); the others are defined as "foreign" in the Official Language Law,[165] but there is also a sizeable minority with Russian as their native language - 37,3% of those answering the question on language used at home named Russian during the census (2011).[166]
  • Lithuania has one official language, Lithuanian. There is a small Polish-speaking minority among ethnic Poles. There is also a large number of fluent Russian speakers, primarily among older generations because of the Soviet era.
  • Luxembourg is a rare example of a truly trilingual society, in that it not only has three official languages – Luxembourgish, French and German[167] – 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 are in French.
  • Malta has two official languages, Maltese and English.[168] Italian is also spoken by a large percentage of the population.
  • Moldova
  • The Netherlands has four official languages. Dutch is the primary language, and West Frisian is recognized as a minority language[142] and spoken by between 300,000 and 700,000 people. West Frisian is mostly spoken in the province of Fryslân, 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.[142] 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.[171]
  • Norway - in six communes of Troms and Finnmark counties, Sami is used officially along Norwegian[172]
  • 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.[142][173]
  • Portugal – although Portuguese is practically universal, Mirandese, a related Leonese language, is spoken in Miranda do Douro, northeastern Portugal and is officially recognized (see: Languages of Portugal), and there is some familiarity with the Spanish language in border towns with neighboring Spain.
  • In Romania, the official language is Romanian, but significant minority languages are recognized on the local level, with commitments made in respect of use of Bulgarian, Czech, Croatian, German, Hungarian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Turkish and Ukrainian in areas where the share of their speakers is at least 20%.[142] The biggest ethnic minority is the Hungarian community of 1.4 million (6.6%).
  • ex-Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries: Many people fluently speak Russian, especially in Slavic countries within the area of the former USSR (typically in Belarus and Ukraine), along with Moldova, which has a Slavic minority. However, few Polish, Slovak or Czech people speak Russian, despite huge expenditures in the past.
  • Republics of Russia:
  • Abkhazia. According to Georgian law, Georgian and Abkhazian are co-official;[188] according to Abkhazian law — Abkhazian and Russian.[189] The elder generation of Abkhazis spoke Georgian, Russian and Abkhazi.
  • Serbia: There are seven officially used languages in Vojvodina (Serbian, Croatian, Romanian, Ruthenian, Hungarian, Slovak and Czech), and four in central Serbia (Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian and Bulgarian).[190] The northern autonomous province of Vojvodina has a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual identity, with a number of mechanisms for the promotion of minority rights; there are more than 26 ethnic groups in the province. The province has six official languages. Some Serbs are recognised as fluent polyglot, many of them being able to speak German, French and English, due to the huge amount of Serbian immigrants in Europe, especially in Austria, Germany and France, whilst English is quite popular due to the large Serbian immigrant community in Australia and Canada.
  • Slovakia has a Hungarian minority of 520,000 (9.7%). Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, German, 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.[142]
  • Slovenia. Italian and Hungarian are recognized as regional or minority languages.[142][191] In the coastal area (Koper, Izola and Piran) Italian is also an official[citation needed] language, in addition to Slovene. In the eastern part of Prekmurje, Hungarian is used as an official language[citation needed] next to Slovene. In the bilingual areas, all children are taught both languages.
  • Spain, where several autonomous communities have their own official language, additional to Spanish (also known as Castilian), official all over Spain (see: languages of Spain):
  • Sweden has Swedish as its official language. Finnish, Meänkieli, Romani, Sami and Yiddish are recognized as minority languages.[142] Meänkieli, a variant of Finnish, is spoken in Tornedalen and Haparanda in North Bothnia. Meänkieli, Finnish and Sami have a special status in the areas were speakers are significant minorities.
  • Switzerland has four national languages; German, French, Italian and Romansh.[201] The cantons Valais, Fribourg and Bern are bilingual (French and German), while canton Graubünden is trilingual (German, Romansh and Italian).
  • In most countries of the Former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian are understood by all three groups (see Serbo-Croatian) - and smaller languages in the other republics of Slovenia (Slovenian), Macedonia (Macedonian) and (Montenegro) Montenegrin. Other languages have co-official status in some parts of these countries (e.g. Italian in Istria, Hungarian in Vojvodina).
  • 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). In 2013, the Ministry of Education included Kurdish, Abkhaz, Adyghe and Laz languages to the academic programme of the basic schools as optional classes from the fifth year on.[202]
    • 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.[203] Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language, prohibiting the language in education and broadcast media.[204][205] In March 2006, Turkey allowed private television channels to begin airing programming 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.[206] However, most of these restrictions on private Kurdish television channels were relaxed in September 2009.[207]
  • In Ukraine, Russian, Hungarian and Romanian are granted status of a regional language in certain areas (Language policy in Ukraine). Carpathian Ruthenia, Ukraine, Slovaks living near Uzhhorod speak Ukrainian and Hungarian in addition to their mother tongue, Slovakian. In villages near Mukachevo Germans (Swabian dialect speakers) also speak Hungarian and Ukrainian.
  • The only national language of the United Kingdom is English, however there are several regional languages recognised:
    • Wales: 611,000 Welsh speakers, including the majority of the population in parts of north and west Wales.[208] English is widely used. Across Wales, both English and Welsh have equal official status; the priority given to each, for instance on road signs, is determined by each local authority.[209]
    • 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;[210] certain functions are granted to those two languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.[142]
    • 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.[211] Also Scots with approximately 2 to 3 million speakers — a Germanic language closely related to English.
    • Cornwall: After two centuries of extinction, Cornish was revived in the region in the early 20th century.
    • Jersey: along with English, use of French for petitioning the parliament is provided for by its Standing Orders.[212]


  • Fiji — Fijian and English (both official)[213]
  • Kiribati — Kiribati and English (official); Kiribati is the majority language,[214] English language is the prevailing language for constitutional text[215]
  • Marshall Islands — Marshalese and English (both official)[216]
  • New Caledonia — French and Kanak languages[217]
  • New Zealand — a small percentage of the population has some reasonable degree of bilingualism in English and Māori, mostly among the Māori themselves; few are fully fluent in Māori.[specify] New Zealand Sign Language has also an official status. English is the main language, with over 96% of the population speaking it fluently. Maori has been recognized as official since 1987.[218]
    • Cook Islands — Cook Islands Maori and English[219].
  • Palau — Palauan traditional languages are the national languages. Palauan and English are the official languages.[220]
  • Papua New Guinea — Tok Pisin (official), English (official), Hiri Motu (official), some 836 indigenous languages spoken[221]
  • Rapa Nui (Easter Island) — Rapa Nui along with Chilean Spanish are the 2 co-official languages of the island.
  • Samoa — Samoan and English[222]
  • Tonga — Tongan and English (both official)[223]
  • Tuvalu — Tuvaluan and English (both official)[224]
  • Vanuatu — the national language is Bislama, a creole language or pidgin English, which is also an official language alongside English and French.[225] There are also over 110 local vernacular languages distinct to this island archipelago.


  1. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 111 out of 193 United Nations member states.


  1. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon Article 1
  2. ^ Central African Republic's Constitution of 2004 with Amendments through 2010 Article 18
  3. ^ Chad's Constitution of 1996 with Amendments through 2005 Article 9
  5. ^ Fundamental Law of Equatorial Guinea, as amended in 2012 (in French) (in Spanish)
  6. ^ "World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples – Equatorial Guinea: Overview". UNHCR. 20 May 2008. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  7. ^ Dickovick, James Tyler (2012). Africa 2012. Stryker Post. p. 180. ISBN 1610488822. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  8. ^ 2002 Constitution of the Republic of the Congo Article 6(in French)
  9. ^ Burundi's Constitution of 2005 Article 5
  10. ^ English is now official language of Burundi 2014
  11. ^ The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 Article 7
  12. ^ Bishumba, Nasra. "MPs approve law making Swahili official language". The New Times Rwanda. Retrieved 2017-02-12. 
  13. ^ The Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda Article 5
  14. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Seychelles Article 4
  15. ^ Kiswahili
  16. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Uganda Article 6
  17. ^ Constitution of Djibouti Art. 1
  18. ^ Provisional Constitution (2012) Article 5
  19. ^ Tamazight official in Algeria
  20. ^ Constitution of People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria. Art. 3, Art. 3 (a)
  21. ^ Mauritania's Constitution of 1991 with Amendments through 2012 Article 6
  22. ^ Constitution of Morocco Article 5
  23. ^ Constitution of Sudan Article 8
  24. ^ "Angola". Ethnologue. 
  25. ^ Botswana
  26. ^ Constitution of the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros Article 2
  27. ^ Constitution of Lesotho Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine. Art. 3
  28. ^ Constitution of Madagascar Article 4
  29. ^ "Malawi". Ethnologue. 
  30. ^ "Mozambique". Ethnologue. 
  31. ^ "Effective Literacy Programmes › National Literacy Programme in Namibia". 8 December 2009. 
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  33. ^ The Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland Act 2005 Art. 3
  34. ^ Article 6 Constitution of Zimbabwe
  35. ^ Central Statistics Office Archived 2012-01-21 at the Wayback Machine. Central Statistics Office
  36. ^ Burkina Phrasebook Book Description
  37. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Cabo Verde Article 9 (in Portuguese) (in French)
  38. ^ [file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/LOI%20REPORT%20MALI%20VARLY-final.pdf The Monitoring of Learning Outcomes in Mali] p. 1
  39. ^ Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Article 55
  40. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Senegal Article 1
  41. ^ "What Language Do They Speak in Aruba? Dutch & Papiamento -". 
  42. ^ Bolivian Constitution Archived 2009-05-21 at the Wayback Machine., Article 5-I: "Son idiomas oficiales del Estado el castellano y todos los idiomas de las naciones y pueblos indígena originario campesinos, que son el aymara, araona, baure, bésiro, canichana, cavineño, cayubaba, chácobo, chimán, ese ejja, guaraní, guarasu'we, guarayu, itonama, leco, machajuyai-kallawaya, machineri, maropa, mojeño-trinitario, mojeño-ignaciano, moré, mosetén, movima, pacawara, puquina, quechua, sirionó, tacana, tapieté, toromona, uru-chipaya, weenhayek, yawanawa, yuki, yuracaré y zamuco."
  43. ^ Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil Art. 13, 210, 231
  44. ^ Constituição do estado do Espírito Santo Art. 182.
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  49. ^ French Language Services Policy
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  53. ^ Languages Act Art. 3-6
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  55. ^ "Indigenous Act - Ley Indígena". Chilean National Congress Library. October 5, 1993. Retrieved September 26, 2015. 
  56. ^ Constitution of Colombia Article 10
  57. ^ LEY 47 DE 1993 (Febrero 19) por la cual se dictan normas especiales para la organización y el funcionamiento del Departamento Archipiélago de San Andrés, Providencia Y Santa Catalina Art. 42(in Spanish)
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  59. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-20. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  60. ^ Ley de idiomas nacionales Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine. Articulo 1-3(in Spanish)
  61. ^ Amerindian Act, 2006 Art. 41
  62. ^ Constitution of Haiti Art. 5
  63. ^ Ley general de derechos lingüísticos de los pueblos indígenas Archived 2008-06-11 at the Wayback Machine. Art. 4 (in Spanish)
  65. ^ Constitution of Oaxaca Art. 12, 16, 126(in Spanish)
  66. ^ Constitution of Campeche art. 7(in Spanish)
  67. ^ Constitution of Quintana Roo art.13(in Spanish) see pages 20-22
  68. ^ Constitution of Chihuahua art. 6, 8-10, 143, 155(in Spanish)
  69. ^ Constitution of Chiapas art. 4, 7(in Spanish)
  70. ^ The Political Constitution of the Republic of Nicaragua Article 11
  71. ^ Political Constitution of 1992 Art. 140(in Spanish)
  72. ^ Constitution of Peru Article 48
  73. ^ Ley N° 29735, Ley que regula el uso, preservación, desarrollo, recuperación, fomento y difusión de las lenguas originarias del Perú(in Spanish)
  74. ^ Nancy Morris (1995). Puerto Rico: Culture, Politics, and Identity. Praeger/Greenwood. p. 62. ISBN 0275952282.  + Crawford J. Puerto Rico and Official English 1997
  75. ^ Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Article III
  76. ^ Voting Rights Act Amendments of 2006, Determinations Under Section 203 Archived 2014-01-08 at WebCite by Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce
  77. ^ Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act
  78. ^ Summary of language access laws in California
  79. ^ Constitution of the State of New Mexico Article VII, Sec. 3; Article XII, Sec. 8.; Article XX, Sec. 12; Excerpts relating to Spanish
  80. ^ Deborah Baker Spanish not ‘enshrined’ as official N.M. language Albuquerque Journal 2013
  81. ^ Bilingual Multicultural Education Act; Technical Assistance Manual for implementing Bilingual Multicultural Education and Title III programs pp. IX-X; Ginger C. Stull Language, Borders and Education: Language Policy and The Making of New Mexico and Arizona Working Papers in Educational Linguistics Volume 27, Number 1 p. 24 (p. 6 — as numbered in the file)
  82. ^ Language Access New York State Department of Labor; Governor Cuomo Announces New York State Agencies Now Provide Free Language Access Services Governor of New York
  84. ^ Louisiana Revised Statutes. Title 25 Libraries, museums, and other scientific See RS 25:671 to RS 25:674
  85. ^ Louisiana Revised Statutes. Title 43 §204. Advertisements to be in English; duplication in French permitted
  86. ^ Long-Scorned in Maine, French Has Renaissance The New York Times
  87. ^ French language University of Maine
  88. ^ Parlez-vous français? For Maine's Acadian youth, the answer is often 'non' Al Jazeera
  89. ^ In Maine, a little French goes a long way Public Radio International
  90. ^ The Bilingual U.S. – French Vermont Boston Language Institute
  91. ^ Burlington votes to add French to its signs CBC
  92. ^ Article XV The Constitution of the state of Hawaii
  93. ^ "Alaska OKs Bill Making Native Languages Official". 21 April 2014. 
  94. ^ "Samoa now an official language of instruction in American Samoa". Radio New Zealand. 2 October 2008. 
  95. ^ Revised Constitution of American Samoa Article I, section 3
  96. ^ Guam Code Annotated, Title 17. Education: CHAPTER 4 CURRICULUM AND TEXTS § 4101. English Language Required. CHAPTER 8 CHAMORRO LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL EDUCATION
  97. ^ Article XXII Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Constitution
  98. ^ "Spanish road signs quite correct". Trinidad and Tobago's Newsday. October 10, 2008. 
  99. ^ Spanish Implementation Secretariat
  100. ^ Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Art. 9
  101. ^ The Constitution of Afghanistan Article 16
  102. ^ [". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 2007-12-13.]
  103. ^ Brunei Darussalam's Constitution Art. 82
  104. ^ Victor Mair The languages on Chinese banknotes//Language Log. Institute for Research in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania
  105. ^ New Progress in Human Rights in the Tibet Autonomous Region Archived 2011-09-05 at the Wayback Machine. State Council Information Office 1998
  106. ^ Language policy//Special Focus for 2005: China's Minorities and Government Implementation of the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law. // Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2005 Annual Report
  107. ^ V. Upholding Ethnic Equality and Unity White Paper on Development and Progress in Xinjiang 2009
  108. ^ Chapter I Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China
  109. ^ Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People' s Republic of China Archived 2012-02-05 at the Wayback Machine. Article 9
  110. ^ Constitution of the Democratic Republic of East Timor Art. 13, 159
  111. ^ Official Language Act
  112. ^ Peluncuran Peta Bahasa Indonesia (not in English)
  113. ^ "Constitute". 
  114. ^ Constitution of Lebanon Article 11
  115. ^ "Portail d'actualités sur le Liban". Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  116. ^ "Sarawak makes English official language along with BM". 
  117. ^ "Sarawak to recognise English as official language besides Bahasa Malaysia". BorneoPost Online - Borneo, Malaysia, Sarawak Daily News. 
  118. ^ "Sarawak adopts English as official language". 
  119. ^ Constitution of Malaysia Art. 161
  120. ^ Art. 251 Constitution of Pakistan
  121. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Philippines Article 14, Sections 6, 7
  122. ^ Constitution of Buryatia Art. 67(in Russian)
  123. ^ Constitution of the Altai Republic Art. 13(in Russian)
  124. ^ Constitution of Tuva Art. 5(in Russian)
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  126. ^ Constitution of the Sakha Republic Art. 46(in Russian)
  127. ^ Constitution of Singapore Art. 153A
  128. ^ Gupta, A.F. Fischer, K., ed. "Epistemic modalities and the discourse particles of Singapore" (DOC). Approaches to Discourse Particles. Amsterdam: Elsevier: 244–263. 
  129. ^ CIA - The World Factbook
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  131. ^ The Indigenous Peoples Basic Law Art. 9, 12, 30
  132. ^ Legislature passes bill to preserve indigenous languages Taiwan News 2017
  133. ^ Constitution o Tajikistan Art. 2
  134. ^ Constitution of Kazakhstan Article 7
  135. ^ Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic Article 10
  136. ^ "Adec reveals major changes to Abu Dhabi schools’ curriculum | The National". Retrieved 2016-04-08. 
  137. ^ О внесении изменений и дополнений в закон «О государственном языке Республики Узбекистан» See Art. 12(in Russian)
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  141. ^ State treaty for the re-establishment of an independent and democratic Austria Article 7 (see pages 229, 231)
  142. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m List of declarations made with respect to treaty No. 148 Council of Europe Treaty Office
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  145. ^ Van Parijs, Philippe, Professor of economic and social ethics at the UCLouvain, Visiting Professor at Harvard University and the KULeuven. "Belgium's new linguistic challenges" (PDF). KVS Express (supplement to newspaper De Morgen) March–April 2007: Article from original source (pdf 4.9 MB) pages 34–36 republished by the Belgian Federal Government Service (ministry) of Economy – Directorate–general Statistics Belgium. Archived from the original (pdf 0.7 MB) on 2007-06-13. Retrieved 2007-05-05.  — The linguistic situation in Belgium (and in particular various estimations of the population speaking French and Dutch in Brussels) is discussed in detail.
  146. ^ Constitution of Cyprus Article 3
  147. ^ Ирина Каблукова Незнание государственного языка прав не лишает Postimees 23.08.2017(in Russian)
  148. ^ "Statistical database". Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  149. ^ § 11, "Lov om Færøernes Hjemmestyre"
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  153. ^ Charte en faveur du Catalan (in French)
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  155. ^ Act CLXXIX of 2011 on the Rights of Nationalities § 5, 6(in English)
  156. ^ Constitution of Ireland Article 8
  157. ^ Norme in materia di tutela delle minoranze linguistiche storiche(in Italian)
  158. ^ Statute of South Tyrol Articles 19, 99-102 etc.(in German)
  159. ^ Statute of Aosta Valley Archived 2014-02-23 at the Wayback Machine. Article 38(in French)
  160. ^ Tutela, valorizzazione e promozione del patrimonio linguistico e culturale veneto(in Italian)
  161. ^ Venetians call for recognition as a 'minority' The Local 2016
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  164. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo Article 5
  165. ^ Official Language Law Sections 3-5, 18
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  170. ^ об основных положениях особого правового статуса населенных пунктов левобережья Днестра (Приднестровья) ст. 6(in Russian)
  171. ^ "Amsterdam wordt 'Emsterdem'". 
  172. ^ The Sámi Act See chapter 3
  173. ^ Act on national and ethnic minorities and on regional language(in Polish)
  174. ^ Constitution of Adygea Art. 5(in Russian)
  175. ^ Constitution of Bashkortostan Art. 1(in Russian)
  176. ^ Constitution of Ingushetia Art. 14(in Russian)
  177. ^ Constitution of Kabardino-Balkaria Art. 76(in Russian)
  178. ^ Constitution of Tatarstan Art. 8(in Russian)
  179. ^ Constitution of Kalmykia Article 17(in Russian)
  180. ^ Constitution of Karachay-Cherkessia Article 11(in Russian)
  181. ^ Constitution of Mari El Article 15(in Russian)
  182. ^ Constitution of Mordovia Article 12(in Russian)
  183. ^ Constitution of Komi Republic Article 67(in Russian)
  184. ^ Constitution of North Ossetia–Alania Article 15(in Russian)
  185. ^ Constitution of Udmurtia Article 8(in Russian)
  186. ^ Constitution of the Chechen Republic Article 10(in Russian)
  187. ^ Constitution of Chuvashia Article 8(in Russian)
  188. ^ The Constitution of Georgia Article 8
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  200. ^ Ley Orgánica 14/2007, Estatuto de Autonomía de Castilla y León Art. 5(in Spanish)
  201. ^ Swiss Constitution/Part 1, article 4, states: The national languages are German, French, Italian, and Romansh.
  202. ^
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  204. ^ "Special Focus Cases: Leyla Zana, Prisoner of Conscience". Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
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  206. ^ Turkey to get Kurdish television Archived 13 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  207. ^ "TRT HABER - Özel Kürtçe Kanala Yeşil Işık". 28 November 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  208. ^ Map of percentage able to speak Welsh, 2001
  209. ^ "Assembly measure gives Welsh status 'equal to English'". BBC News. 
  210. ^ Economic, Social and Cultural Issues // Belfast Agreement
  211. ^ "Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005". 
  212. ^ Standing Orders of the States of Jersey see Schedule 1
  213. ^ "The World Factbook". 
  214. ^ "The World Factbook". 
  215. ^ Constitution of Kiribati Article 127
  216. ^ "The World Factbook". 
  217. ^ Noumea Accord para. 1.3.3
  218. ^ Section 3 Māori Language Act 1987
  219. ^ Constitution of the Cook Islands Art. 35
  220. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Palau Article XIII
  221. ^ "The World Factbook". 
  222. ^ Constitution of Samoa Art. 54
  223. ^ "The World Factbook". 
  224. ^ "The World Factbook". 
  225. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu Article 3