There are approximately around 220 million people in the world that speak the French language. This includes 77 million Europeans, which makes French the second most commonly spoken language in the continent of Europe, right behind the German language. It is also the sixth most widely spoken language on the planet, right behind English, Chinese, Hindi, Spanish and Arabic. This language is official in several countries that are scattered all over the world and are often the second official language in many other countries.
The countries where French is spoken are incredibly diverse, some being extremely rich while others are isolated and among the poorest in the world. This makes many of the countries with Francophone populations largely contrasting in terms of population and their social and economic status. The French language is important in diplomacy and is generally requested in many well-paying jobs all over the world. In this article, we will take a closer look at the cities with the highest number of French speakers.
1. Kinshasa, Democratic Republic Of Congo
Kinshasa is an enormous city that spreads across a vast territory. It is the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the third most populous city in all of Africa. French is the official language in Kinshasa, which makes it the city with the highest number of French-speaking people since its urban area has a population of 12,691,000 people. It might seem strange that a city in Africa has more French-speaking people than the capital of France, but that is just one of the many weird things about our planet.
2. Paris, France
Paris is the capital of France and one of the biggest cities in the world. The population of its urban area is 12,161,542 people, which makes it the city with the second-largest francophone population on the planet. The city itself is gorgeous, a famous tourist attraction, and it is also constantly developing, with an extremely large urban economy. Its global influence is quite large as well, making it a destination everyone should visit and experience. It is one of the most important political and cultural hubs in Europe.
3. Abidjan, Ivory Coast
The French-speaking population in Abidjan is 7,108,647 people, which places it in third place on our list. Many would be surprised to see a city like this in Africa since it is incredibly reminiscent of the business centers found across the United States and Europe with its tall, modern buildings and many parks. It is one of the most advanced cities in Africa, and the exact moment it started to expand happened in 1931 when a new pier was constructed. This made it an incredibly important French colony and continued developing throughout the years.
4. Montreal, Canada
With 3,824,221 French-speaking people living in the city, Montreal earned its place in the upper half of our list. The city is located in the Canadian province of Quebec and is one of the oldest cities in North America. It is well known among travel enthusiasts for its beautiful architecture, as well as its art and culture. Montreal is also known as one of the most bilingual cities in the world, with the majority of the population speaking both French and English. Up until the 1970s, the city was also the commercial capital of Canada, but it was surpassed by Toronto then.
5. Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
Port-au-Prince is the capital of Haiti, and the city and its urban area have a French-speaking population of 2,470,762 people. The city is located on the Gulf of Gonave, which acts as a natural harbor. The city was initially incorporated during the French colonial rule, and it is known for its unique layout. The city is built like an amphitheater, with commercial districts sitting in close proximity to the water, and the residential buildings placed in the hills above them. The city was largely destroyed by a huge earthquake in 2010 when almost 230,000 people died.
6. Dakar, Senegal
Dakar is the capital of Senegal, settled in the 15th century by the Portuguese. The city was used as a center of the slave trade until France took it over when it became a large regional port and an important city in the French colonial empire. Dakar is known worldwide as being the finishing point of the Paris-Dakar Rally, but that event has been moved to South America since 2009. Dakar has a French-speaking population of 2,452,656 people.
7. Douala, Cameroon
The city of Douala might be the most unknown city on this list. Still, it is the largest city in Cameroon and has a Francophone population of 2,446,945 people. The city is known to be the economic capital of Cameroon and its surrounding region, and it has the largest port in all of Central Africa. The majority of the exports of Cameroon are handled in this city, including cocoa, coffee, and oil.
8. Yaounde, Cameroon
Yaounde is the capital of Cameroon and the second-largest city in the country, right after Douala. Its French-speaking population is measured to be 2,440,462 people. The city is located at a higher altitude, about 2,500 feet above sea level, which gives the city an incredibly comfortable climate. The city also has a good infrastructure with many office buildings, which often leaves a good impression on visitors. It is an incredibly popular destination among travelers all over the world.
9. Lyon, France
Finally, we are back to a city in France. Isn’t it interesting that only two cities from France are in the top 10 on the list of cities with the largest Francophone populations? It almost seems surreal! Lyon is the second-largest city in France and is well known as being considered the culinary capital of the world. The city also has gorgeous architecture and is often cited as one of the best cities to live in. Lyon is also an important center for banking, and many industries, including pharmaceutical and chemical industries, as well as a budding software industry focused on video games. Its French-speaking population is 2,118,132 people.
10. Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic Of Congo
Finishing off the list is Lubumbashi, the second-largest city in the Democratic Republic of Congo with 1,786,397 French speakers. The city is considered to be the mining capital of the country, with many large mining companies making it their hub. The copper mining industry makes the city relatively prosperous. Lubumbashi is located south of the equatorial jungles in the inner parts of the African continent.