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The Most Popular Official Languages Of The World

English serves as the de facto or de jure official language of 59 countries of the world.

What Is An Official Language?

Official languages are those languages that hold special recognition by a specific political region or area. Official languages are generally used in all government interactions, including: court cases, administrative actions, and written laws and regulations. The designation of an official language does not dictate how civilians may communicate, but rather how the government will communicate with civilians. Approximately 101 countries have established 2 or more official languages and an additional 77 countries have designated 1 official language. This article takes a look at the top 3 most popular official languages in the world.

Most Popular Official Languages In The World

English

English is the official language of 59 sovereign countries, making it the most popular official language in the world. Of these countries, 24 are located in Africa, 16 in the Americas, 12 in Oceania, 4 in Asia, and 3 in Europe. It should be noted that in the countries where the majority of English speakers reside (the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand), English is the de facto language rather than the de jure, or legal, language. Generally speaking, English has become the official language of most of these countries because they were once part of the British Empire. Eritrea and Rwanda, however, are the exception to this generalization. Additionally, English is the official language of the Commonwealth of Nations and one of the official languages of the European Union, United Nations, and International Olympic Committee.

French

The second most popular official language in the world is French. French has been designated as an official language of 29 countries. In 13 of these countries, French is the only official language; in the remaining 16, it shares its distinction with 1 or more other languages. Its official status is further divided by continent as follows: 21 countries in Africa, 5 in Europe, 2 in the Americas, and 1 in Oceania. Together, these countries have a total population of 434,578,054. Like English, French is the official language in countries that were once French colonies. Another 12 dependent entities have listed French as the official language. These places include: 6 Overseas Collectivities, 2 British Crown Dependencies, 1 Autonomous Region of Italy, 1 TAAF District (French Southern and Antarctic Lands), 1 Indian Union Territory, and 1 town in India.

Arabic

Arabic is the third most popular official language in the world. It is designated as an official language of 27 countries. Of these, 14 are located in Africa and 13 are in Asia. Twenty-two of these countries are members of the Arab League. With approximately 422 million speakers around the world, Arabic is also one of the top 5 most spoken languages. Historically, Arabic was the official language of both Spain and Portugal from around the 9th century until the 15th century AD and of Sicily and Malta from the 9th century until the 12th century AD. Today, Maltese Arabic is one of the official languages of Malta, making it the only member of the European Union to have an Arabic dialect as an official language. Arabic is, however, one of the official languages of the European Union. This language is also considered a national language or an official minority language in 7 countries. Four of these are located in Africa and 3 in Asia.

The chart published below offers complete list of the most popular official languages in the world.

The Most Popular Official Languages Of The World

RankLanguageNumber Of Countries Where The Language Is An Official Language
1English59
2French29
3Arabic27
4Spanish21
5Portuguese9
6German6
7Berber5
8Swahili5
9Serbo-Croatian5
10Russian4
11Malay based4
12Italian4
13Chinese3
14Dutch3
15Persian3
16Quechua3
17Tamil3
18Turkish3
19Romanian3

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