List of territorial entities where English is an official language

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nations in which English is an official language (de facto or de jure). Anglosphere countries are those where English is the main native language.
  Co-official as minority language
All areas of the world that were ever part of the British Empire. Current British Overseas Territories have their names underlined in red.

The following is a list of territories where English is an official language. As of 2019, there were 55 sovereign states and 27 non-sovereign states where English was an official language.

Overview[change | change source]

British Empire[change | change source]

Most countries where English is a prominent or official language are former colonies of the British Empire. Notable exceptions include Rwanda, which was a former Belgian colony, and Eritrea, which was an Italian colony where the British Empire controlled it only in World War II and shortly after (1941–1952).

English is the sole official language of the Commonwealth of Nations and the Commonwealth Games.

International organizations[change | change source]

English is one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union and the International Olympic Committee.

United States[change | change source]

Although English is not classified as an official language in the United States. Instead, many states and regions within the U.S. do have English as an official language.

India[change | change source]

India's linguistic picture is complex. According to the Constitution of India, "Hindi in the Devanagari script" is the official language of the union;[1] and English the 'subsidiary official language';[2] however, English must be used for the official texts of all federal laws and Supreme Court decisions (with Hindi). It is one of the two languages of the Indian Parliament. English is taught in schools. The quality and effectiveness of the teaching is very varied.[3] English is used almost exclusively for higher education.

Pakistan[change | change source]

The situation of Pakistan is also complex. While the national language is Urdu, English is an official language and used in business, government and law.[4]

Sovereign states[change | change source]

Countries where English is a de facto official language
Country Region Population Primary language?
 Australia Oceania 25,019,600 Yes
 New Zealand[5] Oceania 4,893,830 Yes
 United Kingdom Europe 66,040,229 Yes
 United States North America 325,719,178 Yes
Countries where English is a de jure official language
Country Region Population1 Primary language?
 Antigua and Barbuda[6] Caribbean 85,000 Yes
 Bahamas[6] Caribbean 331,000 Yes
 Barbados[7] Caribbean 294,000 Yes
 Belize[8] Central America 288,000 Yes
 Botswana[8] Africa 1,882,000 No
 Burundi[9] Africa 10,114,505 No
 Cameroon[6] Africa 22,534,532 No
 Canada[6] North America 35,985,751 Yes (except Quebec, northern New Brunswick and Nunavut)
 Cook Islands14[6] Oceania 20,000 Yes
 Dominica[6] Caribbean 73,000 Yes
 Eswatini[6] Africa 1,141,000 No
 Fiji[6] Oceania 828,000 Yes (used as lingua franca, mostly and widely spoken, educational, commerce, and government)
 The Gambia[6] Africa 1,709,000 No
 Ghana[6] Africa 27,000,000 Yes (used as lingua franca)
 Grenada[6] Caribbean 111,000 Yes (except for small French Creole population)
 Guyana[10] South America 738,000 Yes
 India[8][11] Asia 1,247,540,000 No (but official and educational)
 Ireland[12][13] Europe 4,900,000 Yes (Irish is co-official)
 Jamaica[14] Caribbean 2,714,000 Yes
 Kenya[6] Africa 45,010,056 Yes (in business and education)
 Kiribati[6] Oceania 95,000 No
 Lesotho[6] Africa 2,008,000 No
 Liberia[6] Africa 3,750,000 Yes
 Malawi[15] Africa 16,407,000 No
 Malta[6] Europe 430,000 No (but official and educational)
 Marshall Islands[6] Oceania 59,000 No
 Mauritius[6] Africa / Indian Ocean 1,262,000 No
 Federated States of Micronesia[6] Oceania 110,000 No
 Namibia[6] Africa 2,074,000 No (used as lingua franca)
 Nauru[16] Oceania 10,000 No
 Nigeria[6][17] Africa 182,202,000 Yes (used as lingua franca)
 Niue14[6] Oceania 1,600 No
 Pakistan[6] Asia 199,085,847 No (but official and educational)
 Palau[8] Oceania 20,000 No
 Papua New Guinea[18][19] Oceania 7,059,653 No
 Philippines[6][20] Asia 102,885,100 No (but official and educational)
 Rwanda[6] Africa 11,262,564 No (but official and educational)
 Saint Kitts and Nevis[21] Caribbean 50,000 Yes
 Saint Lucia[6] Caribbean 165,000 Yes
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines[22] Caribbean 120,000 Yes
 Samoa[23] Oceania 188,000 No
 Seychelles[6] Africa / Indian Ocean 87,000 No
 Sierra Leone[6] Africa 6,190,280 Yes
 Singapore[24] Asia 5,469,700[25] Yes (used as lingua franca, mostly and widely spoken, and educational)
 Solomon Islands[6] Oceania 507,000 No
 South Africa[26] Africa 54,956,900 No (but official, educational and
lingua franca in formal economy )
 South Sudan[27] Africa 12,340,000 No
 Sudan[6] Africa 40,235,000 No
 Tanzania[6] Africa 51,820,000 No
 Tonga[28] Oceania 100,000 No
 Trinidad and Tobago[6] Caribbean 1,333,000 Yes
 Tuvalu[8] Oceania 11,000 No
 Uganda[6] Africa 37,873,253 No (official and educational)[29]
 Vanuatu[30] Oceania 226,000 No
 Zambia[6] Africa 16,212,000 No
 Zimbabwe[6] Africa 13,061,239 No (used as lingua franca)
Countries where English is a de facto official language, but not primary language
Country Region Population1
 Bahrain[31][32] Asia / Middle East 1,378,000
 Bangladesh[33] Asia 150,039,000
 Brunei[34][35] Asia 415,717
 Cyprus[36] Europe, Asia / Middle East 1,141,166
 Eritrea[6] Africa 6,234,000
 Ethiopia[6] Africa 85,000,000
 Greenland North America 56,367
 Iceland Europe 366,425
 Israel[37][38][39] Asia / Middle East 8,051,200
 Jordan[40] Asia / Middle East 9,882,401
 Kuwait[41] Asia / Middle East 4,348,395
 Malaysia[42] Asia 30,018,242
 Maldives[43] Asia 427,756
 Myanmar[44] Asia 51,486,253
 Qatar[45] Asia / Middle East 2,675,522
 Sri Lanka[46][47] Asia 20,277,597
 United Arab Emirates[48] Asia / Middle East 5,779,760

Non-sovereign entities[change | change source]

Non-sovereign entities where English is a de jure official language
Entity Region Population1 Primary language
 Akrotiri and Dhekelia Europe 15,700 No
 American Samoa11 Oceania 67,700 No
 Anguilla[6] Caribbean 13,101 Yes
 Bermuda9[6] North America 65,000 Yes
 British Virgin Islands[6] Caribbean 23,000 Yes
 Cayman Islands[8] Caribbean 47,000 Yes
 Curaçao[49] Caribbean 150,563 No
 Falkland Islands South Atlantic 3,000 Yes
 Gibraltar[6] Europe 33,000 No
 Guam4 Oceania 173,000 No (<50% of population)
 Hong Kong2[6] Asia 7,097,600 No (Cantonese mostly spoken)
 Isle of Man8 Europe 80,058 Yes
 Jersey6[6] Europe 89,300 Yes
 Norfolk Island[6] Australia 1,828 Yes
 Northern Mariana Islands7 Oceania 53,883 No
 Pitcairn Islands13[6] Oceania 50 Yes
 Puerto Rico3 Caribbean 3,991,000 No (Spanish is the primary language)
 Sint Maarten[50] Caribbean 40,900 Yes
 Turks and Caicos Islands[6] Caribbean 26,000 Yes
 U.S. Virgin Islands5 Caribbean 111,000 Yes
Non-sovereign entities where English is a de facto official language
Entity Region Population1
 British Indian Ocean Territory Indian Ocean 3,000
 Guernsey10 Europe 61,811
 Montserrat[6] Caribbean 5,900
 Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha[8] South Atlantic 5,660
Non-sovereign entities where English is a de facto official, but not primary, language
Entity Region Population1
 Christmas Island12[6] Australia 1,508
 Cocos (Keeling) Islands16[6] Australia 596
 Tokelau[51] Oceania 1,400

Country subdivisions[change | change source]

In these country subdivisions, English has de jure official status, but English is not official in their relevant countries at the national level.

Country subdivisions where English is a de jure official language
Subdivision Country Region Population
 Alabama[52]  United States North America 4,833,722
 Alaska[53]  United States North America 735,132
 Arizona[54]  United States North America 6,626,624
 Arkansas[52]  United States North America 2,959,373
 California[52]  United States North America 38,332,521
 Colorado[52]  United States North America 5,268,367
 Florida[52]  United States North America 19,552,860
 Georgia[52]  United States North America 9,992,167
 Hawaii[52]  United States Oceania 1,404,054
 Idaho[52]  United States North America 1,612,136
 Illinois[52]  United States North America 12,882,135
 Indiana[52]  United States North America 6,570,902
 Iowa[52]  United States North America 3,090,416
 Kansas[52]  United States North America 2,893,957
 Kentucky[52]  United States North America 4,395,295
 Louisiana[55]  United States North America 4,670,724
 Massachusetts[55]  United States North America 6,794,422
 Mississippi[52]  United States North America 2,991,207
 Missouri[52]  United States North America 6,083,672
 Montana[52]  United States North America 1,015,165
 Nebraska[52]  United States North America 1,868,516
 New Hampshire[52]  United States North America 1,323,459
 North Carolina[52]  United States North America 9,848,060
 North Dakota[52]  United States North America 723,393
 Northern Ireland  United Kingdom Europe 1,876,695
 Oklahoma[56]  United States North America 3,850,568
 Saba[57]  Netherlands Caribbean 1,991
 San Andrés y Providencia[58]  Colombia South America 75,167
 Sarawak[59][60][61]  Malaysia Asia 2,471,140
 Scotland[62]  United Kingdom Europe 5,424,800
 Sint Eustatius[57]  Netherlands Caribbean 3,897
 South Carolina[52]  United States North America 4,774,839
 South Dakota[52]  United States North America 844,877
 Tennessee[52]  United States North America 6,495,978
 Texas[52]  United States North America 27,469,114
 Utah[52]  United States North America 2,900,872
 Virginia[52]  United States North America 8,260,405
 Wales[63]  United Kingdom Europe 3,125,000
 West Virginia[64]  United States North America 1,844,128
 Wyoming[52]  United States North America 582,658

Related pages[change | change source]

Footnotes[change | change source]

^1 The population figures are based on the sources in List of countries by population, with information as of 23 January 2009 (UN estimates, et al.).
^2 Hong Kong is a former British Crown colony (1843-1981) and British Dependent Territory (1981-1997); it is currently a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (1997- present)
^3 Puerto Rico is, historically and culturally, connected to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean; Spanish is also an official language on the island. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated United States territory referred to as a "Commonwealth"
^4 Guam is an organized unincorporated territory of the United States
^5 The US Virgin Islands is an insular area of the United States
^6 Jersey is a British Crown dependency
^7 The Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in political union with the United States
^8 Isle of Man is a British Crown dependency
^9 Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory
^10 Guernsey is a British Crown dependency
^11 American Samoa is an unincorporated U.S. territory
^12 Christmas Island is an external territory of Australia
^13 Pitcairn Islands is a British Overseas Territory
^14 The Cook Islands and Niue are associated states of New Zealand that are not really known.
^16 Cocos (Keeling) Islands is an external territory of Australia

References[change | change source]

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  33. "[T]eaching of English continued in primary, secondary and tertiary level not because it was the official language but it became thelanguage of trade and commerce. Over the years, the prominence of English continued to rise. ... English language is dominantly present in every side of our national life while on the other hand in our constitution it is clearly declared that the language of the country is Bengali. In fact, nothing is said about the status of English language in our constitution. On one hand, economic activities in the private companies are carried out in English while there is a government law (Bengali procholon ain1987) that government offices must use Bengali in their official works. So from the government point of view Bengali is the national-official language of Bangladesh and English is the most important foreign language. But in reality English is the second language of the country and in many places English is more important than Bengali in Bangladesh."
  34. English is a "Statutory national working language." Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2013. "Brunei." Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Seventeenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online edition: Accessed 30 March 2014.
  35. Under the constitution of 1959, Malay is the official language of Brunei; but English may be used "for all official purposes." Laws are written in English and Malay, with the English version being the authoritative one. "Laws of Brunei: Revised Edition. Section 82" (PDF). 1984. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
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  37. Spolsky, Bernard (1999). Round Table on Language and Linguistics. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. pp. 169–70. ISBN 0-87840-132-6. In 1948, the newly independent state of Israel took over the old British regulations that had set English, Arabic, and Hebrew as official languages for Mandatory Palestine but, as mentioned, dropped English from the list. In spite of this, official language use has maintained a de facto role for English, after Hebrew but before Arabic.
  38. Bat-Zeev Shyldkrot, Hava (2004). "Part I: Language and Discourse". In Diskin Ravid, Dorit; Bat-Zeev Shyldkrot, Hava (eds.). Perspectives on Language and Development: Essays in Honor of Ruth A. Berman. Kluwer Academic Publishers. p. 90. ISBN 1-4020-7911-7. English is not considered official but it plays a dominant role in the educational and public life of Israeli society. [...] It is the language most widely used in commerce, business, formal papers, academia, and public interactions, public signs, road directions, names of buildings, etc. English behaves 'as if' it were the second and official language in Israel.
  39. Shohamy, Elana (2006). Language Policy: Hidden Agendas and New Approaches. Routledge. pp. 72?73. ISBN 0-415-32864-0. In terms of English, there is no connection between the declared policies and statements and de facto practices. While English is not declared anywhere as an official language, the reality is that it has a very high and unique status in Israel. It is the main language of the academy, commerce, business, and the public space.
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  43. "Other languages spoken in Maldives include English, which is also recognized as the second main language. Initially, Dhivehi was used as the medium of teaching in schools, but the need to promote higher education led to the conversion of syllabus in English. Now, English is widely spoken by the locals of Maldives." "Maldives Languages". Retrieved Feb 2, 2017.
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  47. Under the constitution of 1978, Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages of Sri Lanka, but English is "the link language." Any person is entitled "to receive communications from, and to communicate and transact business with, any official in his official capacity" in English, to receive an English translation of "any official register, record, publication or other document," and "to communicate and transact business in English." English translations must be made for "all laws and subordinate legislation," "all Orders, Proclamations, rules, by-laws, regulations and notifications." "THE CONSTITUTION OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA: Chapter IV". 1978. Archived from the original on 2003-02-03. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
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