Talk:List of territorial entities where English is an official language

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Not official as majority language??[edit]

What does "Not official as majority language" as shown on the map mean? What does (for example) Germany and Norway have that France and Belgium do not? Kitplane01 (talk) 09:16, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

It seems to mean that the majority in these countries can speak English as a foreign language. Burzuchius (talk) 13:37, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
Sorry but this map is just false - I don't think that in Germany a majority speaks english not even as foreign language for example in the former East Germany you will find more people that understand russian than english. The same for the second map ... Helgoland? Oh sure... --2003:D2:A3C1:7000:76DF:BFFF:FE82:4B3 (talk) 07:11, 26 May 2017 (UTC)
This map is so much nonsense. While people might have a reasonable proficiency with English in several of the countries such as Germany, Sweden, Norway and so on, English has NO standing as any form of official language in them, majority OR minority. Find or make a better map! (talk) 18:39, 20 June 2017 (UTC)

Countries where English is a de facto official, but not primary language[edit]

What does "Countries where English is a de facto official, but not primary language" mean? What was the criteria used? Kitplane01 (talk) 09:13, 26 February 2017 (UTC)

The United States, as an example, does not HAVE an official language, at the federal level. That doesn't mean that English isn't the de facto language used in all official papers. (talk) 18:40, 20 June 2017 (UTC)


When I clicked on the arcticle link I expected a list of countries with percentage of population who speaks English, not a list of contries where English is an official language. The title of this arcticle is missleading. --Berkut 07:19, 18 May 2005 (UTC)

Indeed, this article's title does not deliver its promises. Instead of bearing the title List of countries by English speaking population, it ought to be renamed List of countries where English is an official language ranked by total population. Both lists should subsequently be appended to Anglosphere. //Big Adamsky 11:33, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
I have renamed it to List of countries where English is an official language. Your suggestion is good, but the name would be a bit long.--Ezeu 19:52, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Is anyone else bothered?[edit]

Is anyone else bothered by the fact that this list contains countries with no official language (USA) and entities that are not countries (Christmas Island)? It's a lot of work to pull those out, recalculate the totals and redo the map, so maybe we could rename this article something like "list of countries and places that are not countries where English is or is not an official language". What does everyone think? 22:03, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

That was bothering me as well. I was looking at the Official Language page and noticed it said English is not the Official Language in the US or the UK, so I clicked over to this page, wondering which countries is is the official language in. Clearly there's a pretty huge mistake somewhere. Lemur821

The UK is not a country..England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are countries. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:35, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

Shouldn't there be some kind of distinction between countries where English is the only/dominant language (like the UK, Australia...) and countries where it's only one of the languages used (like India)? Maybe by adding footnotes or different colours?AtikuX 02:33, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

United States[edit]

The United States was previously listed in the table below, but a revision on May 21st, 2006, removed the United States after having been verified that this country does not have an official language, thus the information was misleading -Yanichel

I edited the list to exclude all non-sovereign states (I think I got them all), and places where English is not the actual official language by law (including the US and UK). If someone can please recalculate the areas/GDP, and fix the map, that would be greatly appreciated; I've fixed the population total as that was an easy fix. If someone feels we should rename the page, that's fine, but I think the broader list is better suited by the List of countries by English speaking population; this one should only include sovereign states where it is official. If you wish to re-add a country, please verify your sources and edit the article for that place as well. -- nae'blis (talk) 15:27, 5 June 2006 (UTC)
This is not the list of countries where English is a de jure official language. Countries can have English as a de facto official language, and I believe our list should reflect this. I feel the list is far more misleading without them, although I'm open to any changes to the text that make it clear we include both cases. Of course you are free to create a new List of countries where English is a de jure official language if you feel this is more useful. -- Avenue 23:59, 5 June 2006 (UTC)
I absolutely have no intention of making a new list for de jure official languages; the very concept of official language is predicated on a basis in law. I mentioned the US and UK in the intro to my rewrite, because their omission seems glaring to the casual observer. IMO, a de facto official language is merely the language which is overwhelmingly in use; it doesn't mean it has the force of law, which is where the 'official' part comes from (contrast national language). -- nae'blis (talk) 15:40, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
The very fact that people talk about de facto official languages indicates that typical usage is not as straightforward as you suggest. The decision seems to have ramifications (at least in terms of consistency) well beyond this page. I note that a similar question came up in Talk:List_of_official_languages#De_facto_versus_de_jure, with people agreeing to include both de facto and de jure official languages. -- Avenue 23:36, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
The Wiki page for the UK says English is the official language but this pages doesn't. Something has to give and considering everyone in England speaks English and it is the home of the language you might as well make it official on here. -- 13:11, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
If you look at the footnote in the infobox at United Kingdom, you'll see "English is established by de facto usage", in other words, it's not official. Making English official in the UK and U.S. would be a kind of instruction creep -- unnecessarily enshrining in law something that everyone already observes anyway. —Angr 13:35, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I think it is necessary to reconcile what most people believe to be true (English is the official language of the United States), and reality (The US has no official Language). The Federal Government operates primarily using English, documents are primarily in English. It seems it would be an omission to completely remove the Unites States from this article. For the US & other countries like it, it seems it would be most appropriate to include it in the list, with a footnote/symbol indicating it is de facto, rather than de jure. Alternatively, a column could be added to show de facto or de jure for each entry.--Amallon1130 (talk) 23:42, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Well Wiki still has this article listed as "factual accuracy may be disputed" and that the research here has no true sources, so obviously something needs to be done. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:37, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

Tuvalu, Nauru, Tonga and Tanzania are missing[edit]

Tuvalo, Nauru, Tonga and Tanzania are Commonwealth countries with english as their official language ( Also, country number 20 doesnt show up on the page... —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 16:04, 23 January 2007 (UTC).

Country, nation or state?[edit]

The last edit changed the first line from "The following is a list of sovereign states and territories where ..." to "The following is a list of nations where ...". According to our Nation article, a nation is strictly a group of people, not a geographical country or a sovereign state. It says the nation is often used synonymously with ethnic group (although in common usage it is sometimes used as a near synonym for country, land and state). So the last edit seems to have made the article much less precise. Any objection to changing it back? -- Avenue 00:26, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Fair enough on this count; I thought about just saying country, but that's not limited to sovereign states either. I believe it's listcreep to have this detail all of the territories/associated states/administrative districts which have English as an official language, but if that erquires a renaming of the page, so be it (as always, the consensus of editors here is paramount, not just our debate). -- nae'blis (talk) 15:40, 6 June 2006 (UTC)


The USA does not have an official language, however, several states have declared English an official language. The U.S. should not be included in this list, and the map shouldbe changed to only reflect states that have passed measures recognizing English as an official language.

Puerto Rico has adopted English as an official language (along with Spanish). It should be added to the list and disclaimers should be used to indicate official co-language of the island.--XLR8TION 13:46, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

The article already mentions the de facto status of English in the US, UK, and New Zealand. It would not be useful to exclude the country with the largest English speaking population from this list. --Ghewgill 06:27, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
I have expanded that passage slightly to try to make clear that parts of the US and UK do have de jure official languages. -- Avenue 07:52, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

The case of India[edit]

This article is indeed severly misleading - India does have multiple de jure official languages, but English is not one of them (nor has it ever been). It is, however, spoken by a large, influential, multi-lingual minority spread across the land, and this grants it - de facto - the status of an "associate" or "business" language. 16:21, 15 August 2006 (UTC)SM

Well, your comment is even more misleading. English is fairly understood and spoken by all sections of the society in all of southern India, most parts of north-east India and several parts, especially the urban areas, of northern, eastern and western India. It is a well proven fact that India has the most number of people who speak English. The percentage of people who understand English is well over 45% and that is a considerable "minority". -- 04:30, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
Please see the link, it is not a minority language in india.

Yes, according to the CIA Factbook Hindi/Urdu (really the same language) is spoken by 46% of the population in India, a percentage similar to the people who spoke French in France before Napoleon (most French spoke other languages by then: Occitan, Breton, German, Basque, Dutch etc) Probably something similar will take place in India. English is a language of business (and reminds the former colonial Power) the same way as in Europe (as a consequence of American post-WWII occupation) German could have played a similar role as Hindi but failed.-- (talk) 02:12, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Has nobody noticed that the population figure for India is wildly inaccurate? It should be at the top of the list. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:22, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

I just changed the figure to the one found at the site listed in the references. --Dwane E Anderson (talk) 08:48, 20 September 2008 (UTC)


How about you forget whether it is an official or de jure language and just list the countries where the governemt or the majority of people use the language —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).

That might also be a useful list, but as the title states, this one is about countries where English is an official language. -- Avenue 02:47, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Except it isn't, because the U.S., UK, and Australia are on the list, and English isn't an official language in those countries. "De facto official language", incidentally, is an oxymoron. Official languages are by definition de jure, that's what makes them official. —Angr 14:43, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
"De facto official language" might be an oxymoron, but it's a useful one. It's not an invention of some Wikipedia editors either; see this definition from the Oxford Companion to the English Language, for instance. I think many of our readers will expect to see countries like the UK or Australia in this list, and if they're not to be included we'll need to give a prominent explanation about why they're not to avoid well meaning "corrections". -- Avenue 14:54, 3 June 2007 (UTC)
I've edited the page to remove the offending phrase while retaining the U.S., UK, and Australia. Just because the Oxford Companion to the English Language got something wrong doesn't mean we have to. —Angr 15:32, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Why isn't Sudan coloured in?[edit]

Sudan adopted English in 2005. According to the constitution Arabic and English are the official languages. What's your opinion?

  • Fixed. —Angr 10:35, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

Sudan is missing again! Is someone vandalizing this page?

What happened to the map? Madagascar adopted English in 2007[edit]

Why isn't Madagascar coloured in? The English language is one of the official language so it should be.

  • Fixed. —Angr 10:35, 11 August 2007 (UTC)
    • And abolished it in 2010. Aaker (talk) 14:53, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Information sourcing, verifiability, reliability[edit]

The area of information sourcing, verifiability, and reliability is a difficult problem and that problem really comes to a head in list articles like this. I don't want to challenge this just now at e.g. WT:V, but I think that the footnotes section of this article attempts to sidestep the WP:V guideline that, "Articles and posts on Wikipedia or other open wikis should never be used as third-party sources." Two possible reactions to this are "never say never" and/or WP:IAR. IMHO, in this particular case neither of those reactions is unreasonable. Still.....

Without belaboring things, let me point to one example of a problem. The current version of this article puts the U.S. population at 300,007,997 in a table column footnoted The population figures are based on List of countries by population. The wikipedia article mentioned in the footnote currently puts the U.S. population at 302,495,015. How many other figures are out of sync? I dunno. Are there any serious disconnects between the two articles? I dunno.

One possible improvement might be to adopt a scheduled synchronization policy and add "as of {last sync date}" to the footnote pointing to the source. That's easy, but doesn't feel right to me. An enhancement to this possible improvement might be to remove the tables which rely on List of countries by population to templates, and to have a bot update the templates. The tables in the templates could each have a bot-updated footnote saying something like: "The information in this table was extracted from List of countries by population as of {date & time}. See that article for the latest figures and for citations of supporting sources."

Comments? -- Boracay Bill 02:00, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

Note: seee related discussion here. Perhaps these discussions should be consolidated on WT:V. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wtmitchell (talkcontribs) 06:02, August 26, 2007 (UTC)


The CIA world facboot does not include Sudan as having English as an official language. Neither does the text of this article. Why is sudan colored on the map?

Kitplane01 07:31, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

{{Original research}}, {{Disputed}}[edit]

I've added the {{Original research}} and {{Disputed}} tags to this article. Some reasons:

  • A table footnote explains: "The population figures are based on List of countries by population." This arguably conflicts with Wikipedia's verifiability policy, which says: "Articles and posts on Wikipedia or other open wikis should never be used as third-party sources."
  • The recent additions of Nauru and Sudan are unsupported. In fact, the great majority of the entries in this article are unsupported, unless mention of the List of countries by English-speaking population article is intended as a supporting source (regarding which, see my point above about WP's verifiability policy).
  • Looking at List of countries by English-speaking population (which does cite supporting sources), I see that that article lists Nauru as having 10,300 english-speakers (800 as a first language, 9,500 as an additional language), and that lists Somalia but does not give any figures.
  • Re Nauru;
  1. Nauru asserts that English is an official language, but does not cite a supporting source.
  2. The CIA Factbook says, "Languages: Nauruan (official; a distinct Pacific Island language), English widely understood, spoken, and used for most government and commercial purposes."
  3. The Ethnologue-Eng page says that English is the "National language" in Nauru.
  4. The constitution of Nauru] doesn't mention English and does not designate either National or official languages.
  • Re Somalia
  1. Somalia asserts that Somali is the official language, citing the CIA factbook as a supporting source.
  2. The CIA Factbook says, "Languages: Somali (official), Arabic, Italian, English"
  3. The constitution of Somalia (Article 6, here) says, "The official language of the Republic of Somaliland is Somali, and the second language is Arabic.", and "Other languages shall be used when necessary."
  4. The Ethnologue-Eng page says that English is an "Official language" in Somalia.
  • My guess is that other countries listed in this article have similarly muddled situations. -- Boracay Bill 01:50, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

If you have reliable enough sources (whichever you determine as one of them), it would be very nice if you could correct the referred articles of the specific countries with the given source, because it doesn't really make sense to have opposing information in Wikipedia, or to modify only a derived article when the source article remains the same (leaving the opportunity for future changes there and back). Adam78 13:35, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I understand that. However, I am just a patrolling editor looking for possible problems, not an expert on this particular subject who is familiar with relevant supporting sources. As WP:V says, "The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material.". -- Boracay Bill 14:30, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

OK, thank you for the sources anyway. Adam78 22:25, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

America/South America[edit]

I've noticed that in the continents column that the continent of North America is listed simply as America and that South America is fully specified. We have to remember that America when properly used refers to to continents and hundreds of islands. 00:34, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

Actually, it's only Caribbean island countries that are being called "America" unmodified. Other North American countries are listed as North America. Maybe whoever started this was uncomfortable calling Caribbean island countries "North America", though I don't see why. —Angr 06:05, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

Hong Kong[edit]

it is an official language there so it should be on the map - but it is not. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Platinum inc (talkcontribs) 18:52, 13 November 2007 (UTC)


Article claims language of "Kosovo" is English, yet the article on that place does not mention the language. - S.Azzopardi (talk) 07:16, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

Totally agree. Kosovo should be removed Rockybiggs (talk) 16:23, 6 March 2008 (UTC)


English is also one of the official languages of Malta and this is missing from the article! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:57, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Sri Lanka[edit]

I noticed that Sri Lanka is coloured on the map, but is not listed. What's the real status?

Chapter IV of the 1978 constitution here says:
Draft bill no. 372 to repeal and replace the 1978 constitution has not been adopted (see here). If adopted, it would add English to the list of national languages, but would not make English an official language (see here). -- Boracay Bill (talk) 22:50, 21 April 2008 (UTC)


Does anyone besides me wonder why Mauritius is on the list twice? Also, is there a purpose to having given each a rank? (talk) 15:10, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

Total Population v. English-Speaking Population[edit]

The Population column is misleading, as it reflects the total population of a country, rather than the English-Speaking population. I would propose including both numbers on this listing to improve ease of understanding. India's total population is about 1 billion, but only apx 350 million are English-speaking. By contrast, virtually all of the United States' 300 million are English-speaking. The different numbers are both very relevant to understanding the data presented in this list. --Amallon1130 (talk) 23:54, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Rank column?[edit]

What is the rank column. It doesn't appear to be either total population or English-speaking population? (talk) 23:29, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

Good Question!!! i hope someone knows!! ATMarsdenTalk · {Semi-Retired} 21:14, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

New Discussion[edit]

A discussion has been started at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Countries/Lists of countries which could affect the inclusion criteria and title of this and other lists of countries. Editors are invited to participate. Pfainuk talk 11:16, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

Offical / Unoffical status[edit]

At the moment it is rather misleading that countries with English as the official language are shown exactly the same as where its unofficial but clearly still the majority language (like USA) even though this is mentioned in the intro it causes problems.

I think its important that this list does show countries which havnt declared a language the official one because otherwise we would have to even remove the United Kingdom, however the list would be more useful if we added a column to the end to go into details about the status in each country. That way we can say official language, or for Canada official language along with French, or for the US majority language spoken and official in some states but not nationwide. etc

Any objections to adding such a column to the table? BritishWatcher (talk) 09:09, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

I have proposed a move that I think accomplishes the same objective, but I agree in principle with what you're saying. Including things that do not belong (Australia does not have an official language, for example) makes the title of this article just plain incorrect. The other alternative would be to delete Australia and the US from the list and retain them in the narrative, since it'd be difficult not to mention them yet they clearly don't belong. SDY (talk) 00:50, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
Article names do not have to be completely explanatory about what they include - that is what the lead sentence is for, in cases where it is not completely clear, or it can be included in a hatnote if there is another article of a similar topic. I would recommend keeping the existing title and indicating official or dominant in the lead sentence, and taking the U.S. out of the official language table, and adding a dominant but not official language table for countries like the United States adding an asterisk for the United States that it is the official language only in some states. Also I would strongly recommend a separate column for % English speaking instead of a cryptic and no where explained percentage after some of the locations. (talk) 01:16, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
If we're going to call it a list, we should at least label the list appropriately, hence my preferred solution of just moving it to a more appropriate title. SDY (talk) 14:58, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
I had no idea that English was the official language in some states (probably ones not close to Mexico or Puerto Rico). I think a shorter title would be better than a longer one. The biggest problem with using "widely used" is English is widely used almost everywhere, making it simply a list of most of the countries of the world. (talk) 15:27, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

At any rate, some sort of change should be made, because the current title doesn't really have much relationship to the contents of the list. Even if that isn't a perfect solution, it's a better title than the current one since it's only ambiguous instead of actively wrong. SDY (talk) 06:16, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

  • Oppose - How would you decide if english was widely used in a country or not? Where is the cutoff line? It'd be better to just cut out the countries that don't have english as an official language. ƒingersonRoids 13:46, 11 April 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose Fix the list contents to fit the title. It's also easier to maintain the list using the current title per the comments regarding how to determine "widely used" above. --Polaron | Talk 14:10, 11 April 2009 (UTC)
  • Polaron and Septentrionalis are absolutely correct - its the article contents that need fixing, not the title or scope. Knepflerle (talk) 14:57, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

Very well, let's do that then. SDY (talk) 19:55, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

I am closing the requested move as lacking consensus, without placing the above discussion in a closed box since this is obviously a wider discussion than just the move.--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 03:15, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Percentages in the table[edit]

Unless I've completely missed it, there doesn't seem to be any mention of what the percentages after some of the countries in the tables actually mean. AstroMark (talk) 09:49, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

Netherlands Antilles[edit]

Is it missing? Bocharyen (talk) 21:54, 5 September 2009 (UTC)


It is entirely incorrect to list Australia under "Non-sovereign entities." The Commonwealth of Australia is a sovereign nation. While, officially speaking, the Queen is recognised as the Head of State (albeit in name only) this is equally true of Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica and several other English-speakign countires listed under "Sovereign states" on this page. Adrianpd (talk) 09:46, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

I've moved it. I see that Oz is correctly listed in the List of sovereign states article. It is missing from the List of countries by Independence Day article; I'll add it. Apparently, Australia does not celebrate an independence day.[1]][2], [3], [4], etc. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 02:24, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

Australia celebrates Australia Day on January 26th. Its pretty much Australia's version of an independence day--Supun47 (talk) 09:09, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

I am surprised and even doubting the information that was shown, my expectation is to see a very high percentage of nations with E nglish as the official languages, though nigeria was included and the population shown was ok . —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:54, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Australia doesn't have an independence day as it became independent in a series of gradual steps away from Britain. The High (i.e. Supreme) Court has ruled that it is now an independent country though, although it neglected to specify a date it considered it to have been independent since.

Additional query - Australia => region Australia is listed as being in the region "Australia" along with Christmas Island, Norfolk Island and so on. These should be classified as Oceania, not Australia. Searching the discussion I was unable to find previous comments regarding this, and being inexperienced, I have not touched the article. The hierarchy for the Commonwealth of Australia runs: the Australian member States and Territories => Australia => Australasia => Oceania. There has been previous discourse about using the term "Pacific" instead of Oceania, however portions of other named bodies of water intrude. (talk) 06:07, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

England vs United Kingdom[edit]

Bit of an edit-war going on here... I have reverted the occurrence of England as a country where English is the de-facto language to United Kingdom. England is more of a country-state of the UK, and the UK covers a lot more ground than England, and that ground indeed has English as the de-facto language, as far as I can determine. If you object, please explain why here on this talk page rather than edit-warring. ~Amatulić (talk) 22:19, 8 March 2011 (UTC)

I nearly commented on this a couple of days ago, but decided not to stir the pot then.
  • The lead paragraph of the article says, "... Australia does not have an official language. The case is the same in the United Kingdom and the United States, ..." (emphasis added).
  • The United Kingdom, which is said in the article's lead section not to have an official language, is said in its infobox to be made up of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  • Great Britain is not a country. It is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It contains the countries of England, Scotland, and Wales.
  • England is said in its infobox to have English as a de facto official language. Also see Note 2 in that article.
  • Scotland is said in its WP article to have English, Gaelic and Scots as official languages. This is cited in support, and says that a bill, the "The Gaelic Language Bill", giving official status in Scotland to the Gaelic language for the first time passed its final legislative stage in April of 2005. The WP article on Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 says that the bill established Gaelic as an official language of Scotland, commanding "equal respect" with English. One might infer from that, I guess, that English is an official language in Scotland.
  • Wales is said in its WP article to have Welsh and English as official languages. No supporting source is cited. I dug around a bit without finding anything solid on this. A blog post from "Cymro" at [5] seems to contain info which might be useful in digging deeper. Also see note 2 in the United Kingdom article.
  • Northern Ireland is said in note 1 of its infobox not to have an official language.
Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 22:00, 9 March 2011 (UTC)


Do the United Arab Emirates use English and adopt it as their de-facto language? For what purpose? Kiddie Techie Talk 08:01, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somaliland[edit]

According to both the CIA[6][7], and Ethnologue[8][9], English is either an official or national language of both Ethiopia and Eritrea.

It's also an official language of Somaliland. Though Somaliland is not a recognized country, perhaps striping on the map and inclusion in "Non-sovereign entities" would be in order? --Quintucket (talk) 21:14, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

As mentioned at Ethiopia's talk page: English is not an official language there according to the Ethiopian Constitution. Ethiopia should therefore be erased from the map.
Ethiopian Constitution: [10]:
"Article 5
1. All Ethiopian languages shall enjoy equal state recognition.
2. Amharic shall be the working language of the Federal Government.
3. Members of the Federation may by law determine their respective working languages."

Aaker (talk) 14:40, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

Eritrea doesn't have any official language according to its constitution (it only says: (3) The equality of all Eritrean languages is guaranteed. Article 4. [11]), but in absence of any official Ethiopian source explicitly claiming something that contradicts CIA and Ethnologue I think we must keep Eritrea on the list. Another alternative could be to ask CIA and Ethnologue why they believe (?) English is official there. Aaker (talk) 14:51, 5 December 2011 (UTC)

"The Philippines" is not an official Canadian language![edit]

In this article's second paragraph, fourth sentence, it says: "English is the official language of Canada along with French and the Philippines.[1]". This sentence just does not sound right, it makes it sound as if "the Philippines" is a language in Canada, along with French. Since English is not my first language, I sometimes get insecure when it comes to correcting an error like this, which is why I am posting here instead.

Could "English is the official language of the Philippines and Canada (in the latter along with French)." be a better option? Or "English is the official language of Canada (along with French) and the Philippines.[1]"? Or would it be better to instead divide this sentence into two for clarity and readability?

Bottom line: Could somebody please correct this awkward sentence? Thanks a lot! :) Peapeam (talk) 15:00, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for pointing that out. Hopefully the changes I made help clarify this. Although I'm not entirely certain why Canada and the Philippines have been singled out as examples here. AstroMark (talk) 20:37, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

De jure and de facto not mutually exclusive[edit]

I noticed that several countries listed under "de facto" were not also listed under "de jure" even though English is listed as their official languge: The Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, ...the UK!

I also noticed that Ireland was not listed under "de facto" despite Ireland's page having the following line: (1) "since a language shift during the 19th century [English] has replaced Irish as the first language for a vast majority of the population" and (2) "In Northern Ireland, English is the de facto official language..."

I made the changes and am writing this note in case anyone wants to fact-check me. Trevori

The UK was not listed under de jure because the UK does not have a de jure official language! See Languages of the United Kingdom. Ireland was not listed under the de facto list precisely because English is a de jure official language. (Northern Ireland is of course included in the UK.) As I understand the terms, the whole point of "de facto" is that it implies that the language is effectively official but not established in law; i.e. the two terms are mutually exclusive.
I have reversed your edits as regards the UK and Ireland but I haven't done so for Antigua and Barbuda or the Bahamas because I'm not sure what the situation is there. - htonl (talk) 22:06, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
In Ireland English is both de jure and de facto. Can we get this entry updated pls? Jaqian (talk) 09:53, 12 September 2012 (UTC)
As I said above, in this context "de facto official language" implies "not de jure official language". Perhaps the text should be improved to reflect this. - htonl (talk) 10:07, 12 September 2012 (UTC)
In any event, as headings for the language charts that make up most of the article, it is surely odd to say "de facto language" rather than "de facto official language", so I will change that right away after checking this talk page discussion. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 21:29, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

English-speaking countries tend not to have "official" languages[edit]

Looking at the controversy on this talk page about where English is "official," I think the problem is that most native speakers of English live in countries that do not have "official" languages. English has been used by custom rather than as a legal requirement in most places where the majority of people speak English. This is the result of various factors, among which may be the greater role of custom in the legal systems of English-speaking countries. Those English-speaking countries with "official" languages tend to have official languages only as part of an extension of recognition to speakers of other languages, such as the bilingualism of Canada and the recognition of Irish in Ireland. Otherwise, it appears that many of the countries where English is an "official" language are countries where English is spoken as a native language by only a minority of the people but has substantial practical utility as a lingua franca.

As a result, it might be more useful to have a page listing "English speaking" countries rather than countries where English is an "official language." Great Britain cannot be included on a list of countries where the "official" language is English, and the same is true for the United States and Australia. Those countries do not have "official" languages and should, therefore, be excluded from the list. They are, however, "English speaking" countries. A list of English speaking countries could be organized according to various criteria of what "English speaking" means -- such as native speakers and non-native speakers. -- Bob (Bob99 (talk) 15:32, 16 December 2013 (UTC))

I've always thought English being official in these cases could easily be described as customary law. I'd be interested if there were any court cases in any of these areas dealing with this. I'm fairly sure English is at least the language of the courts in the UK. CMD (talk) 20:14, 16 December 2013 (UTC)

US states and other subnational entities[edit]

Somewhere on this page, there should be a link to the list of states who have declared an official langauge. Are there any other countries in which English is not official at the national level, but it is official at the sub-national level? If so, it would be appropriate to make a separate "sub-national entities" section. If the US is the only country like this, then a link would be better, probably in a footnote.

[EDIT] Looking at List of official languages by state, there are two other countries in which English is official at the subnational level: the Netherlands (in the municipalities of Saba and St. Eustatius) and Honduras (in the department of the Bay Islands). So a "sub-national entities" section would be warranted, in my opinion. Fishal (talk) 21:43, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

Territories where English is the de facto language[edit]

For several entities in the "non sovereign" category, I cannot find any evidence that they have declared an official language. The cited source, the CIA, does not say "official" for any of them. Since lack of evidence is not evidence of lack, I want to list them here and see if anyone can find any sources, before moving them to a separate list. They are:

Entities where English is the de facto language
Entity Region Population1
 Cocos (Keeling) Islands[1] Australia 596
 Guernsey10 Europe 61,811
 Montserrat[1] Caribbean 5,900
 Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha[2] South Atlantic 5,660

In Tokelau's case, the Commonwealth Secretariat site specifically says that Tokelauan is the *only* official language. However, the government website clearly indicates that English is de facto used for official purposes.

Entities where English is a de facto official, but not primary, language
Entity Region Population1
 Tokelau[3] Oceania 1,400

Fishal (talk) 21:07, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

Looking at the "Countries where English is a de facto official, but not primary, language" list, it seems odd to have Israel singled out in its own one-item list. The section cites and quotes what seem to be very good sources, but surely there are a few other countries that would belong. In particular, the parts of former British India not already on the list would seem to belong here, and possibly so would some of the Persian Gulf countries. Fishal (talk) 17:26, 29 March 2014 (UTC)


  1. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference CIAofficial was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference CIAusage was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ "Associated Countries and External Territories: Tokelau". Commonwealth Secretariat. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 


The map shows Belize pale blue, but our list indicates it is more than that, and the Wikipedia article on Belize says it is the official language. Kdammers (talk) 05:34, 8 December 2014 (UTC)

At List of territorial entities where English is an official language#Country subdivisions, Scotland is technically a country, and the UK is not.[edit]

How should this be handled? Dustin (talk) 04:46, 31 January 2015 (UTC)


Can you please fix the article. The UK does not have an official language, English is merely de facto there. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:00, 22 April 2015 (UTC)

The UK doesn't have a written constitution, therefore everything is pretty much de facto over there, even the monarchy. Doesn't mean that the monarchy, like the Engish language, is not official. It is.--Lubiesque (talk) 17:06, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
Encyclopædia Britannica agrees that it's official: "A hybrid speech combining Anglo-Saxon and Norman French elements developed and remained the official language, sometimes even displacing Latin in public documents, until the mid 14th century, when late Middle English, a language heavily influenced by Norman French, became the official language."[12]C.Fred (talk) 17:36, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
I've seen directly contrary statements about the situation in the UK in sources that are otherwise reliable on closely related issues. This is tricky to source. But the United Kingdom has had statutory law for as long as it has had a Parliament, and it has had binding court decisions for equally long, so there may be some written law on this topic somewhere. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 18:08, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
Discuses here matter left undesired (also mention on page Britannica dose not make the distinction between de facto and official)
I think that it's reasonable take the view that Welsh and English are official in wales due to the Law in Wales Acts 1535 & 1542 and subsequent Welsh Language Act 1993 make English and Welsh official (like wise there are acts detaining the monarchy's rights succession etc.). Therefor I think that we can separate de jure and de facto for UK as the article dose.
I understand that there are no act that would create an official languages in the UK other than those mention but that for the most part the territorial extent of those is wales and no act or law of any form makes for an official language for the UK or for England.
So long as there is no such law I contend it is false to say "English is a de jure official language" in the UK in general.
Also of note is that assent continues to be given in archaic Anglo-Norman French HenryCGk (talk) 01:24, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────As I write this, the now-current version of this article asserts without support that English is a de-jure official language in the UK. My understanding is that the UK has no de-jure official language, and that English is a de-facto official language there. There are plenty of potential supporting sources out there, some asserting that English is an official language in the UK (e.g., [13] official web page but not current, [14], [15] says de-facto, [16], [17] describes it as an "undeclared official language") and some asserting that it is not (e.g., [18], [19] says it is "not a declared official language"). Few of the sources which assert that Engliish is official in the UK make a distinction between de-jure and de-facto official status. I suggest that English be moved from the de-jure table to the de-facto table and that a note be provided referring readers to the Languages of the United Kingdom article for more information (IAW WP:SS). Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 04:29, 26 April 2015 (UTC)
If English is official on a de facto basis in England by custom (as appears to be the case from the best sources) while being de jure official in Wales and Scotland, then the United Kingdom should treated the same way at the country level as the United States is, with the internal regions that have English as a de jure official language noted the same way that United States states that do are. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 15:00, 26 April 2015 (UTC)


I see no mention of Ireland in this article? Ireland is a sovereign nation with English as the predominant language. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:08, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

It may be predominant, but Irish is official. —C.Fred (talk) 17:01, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
Ireland is on the list and was when the IP posted this. It did state English was its primary language and even though it has more L1 speakers Irish is the first as per the Consttution;
1 the irish language as the national language is the first official language.
2 the english language is recognised as a second official language."
I have adjusted accordingly. Murry1975 (talk) 15:16, 25 October 2015 (UTC)

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In March 2014, the president of Gambia announced that English would be replaced as the official language by Arab. However, English is the only language at the president's website. I couldn't find an Arab-language external link on the Arab Wikipedia article. So I wonder if much has changed in reality. Should Gambia be listed under the heading "Countries where English is a de facto official, but not primary language"? Who knows more about this? Bever (talk) 23:16, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

It's German that should be the official language of that dirty dump. They are all over the beaches in winter, I'm told.--Lubiesque (talk) 13:22, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
But seriously, if there is a language in the world that spreads by leaps and bounds over the entire planet, in total disregard of its official status, or lack thereof, in this and that particular country, it is English.--Lubiesque (talk) 13:22, 20 January 2016 (UTC)

Map: Unofficial language[edit]

The map uses the labels "Not official as majority language" and "Not official as minority language". They make no sense to me – why are some European countries (including my own, Norway) listed as "Not official as majority language"? my best guess is that it refers to the fact that many people (how many?) speak English as a second language. But that doesn't belong in this map. Espensj (talk) 05:33, 23 March 2016 (UTC)


English is a business language as well in India. It also is used (and spoken) in every part of India, especially in urban areas where it is more of a de facto language. Penpaperpencil (Talk) 06:49, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

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'Denmark/English' has been added for some time as an official locale on Linux. But I don't think the Danish govt has given it official status. FI, NO, SE and IS have not got English listed as a Linux language. I suspect this is because Danes are so comfortable in English that they are happy to use software in English mode, especially as much of it has not been fully internationalised anyway. --Elmeter (talk) 15:34, 16 July 2017 (UTC)