List of territorial entities where English is an official language

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Nations in which English is an official language (de facto or de jure). Anglosphere countries are those where English is the main native language.
  Official as majority language
  Official as minority language
  Co-official as majority language
  Co-official as minority language
  Unofficial[clarification needed]
  Not official as majority language
  Not 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, that is, a language used in citizen interactions with government officials. In 2015, there were 54 sovereign states and 27 non-sovereign entities where English was an official language. Many country subdivisions have declared English an official language at the local or regional level.

The majority of states where English is an official language are former territories of the British Empire. Notable exceptions include Rwanda, which was formerly a Belgian territory, Cameroon, where only part of national territory were under British mandate, and Liberia, the Philippines, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau, which were under American rule. English is the sole official language of the Commonwealth of Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. English is one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union, NAFTA, African Union, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Caribbean Community, Union of South American Nations and many other international organizations. Although English is de jure not an official language at the national level in the United States, most states and territories within the United States have English as an official language. Only Puerto Rico uses a language other than English as a primary working language.

The United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, where the overwhelming majority of native English speakers reside, do not have English as an official language de jure, but English is considered to be their de facto official language due to its dominant position in these countries.

Sovereign states

Countries where English is a de jure official language
# Country Region Population1 Primary language?
01  Antigua and Barbuda[1] Caribbean 85,000 Yes
02  Bahamas[1] Caribbean 331,000 Yes
03  Barbados[2] Caribbean 294,000 Yes
04  Belize[3] Central America 288,000 Yes
05  Botswana[3] Africa 1,882,000 No
06  Burundi[4] Africa 10,114,505 No
07  Cameroon[1] Africa 22,534,532 No
08  Canada[1] North America 35,985,751 Yes
09  Cook Islands14[1] Oceania 20,000 Yes
10  Dominica[1] Caribbean 73,000 Yes
11  Federated States of Micronesia[1] Oceania 110,000 No
12  Fiji[1] Oceania 828,000 No
13  Gambia[1] Africa 1,709,000 No
14  Ghana[1] Africa 27,000,000 Yes (used as lingua franca)
15  Grenada[1] Caribbean 106,000 Yes
16  Guyana[5] South America 738,000 Yes
17  India[3][6] Asia 1,247,540,000 No (used in education)
18  Ireland[7][8] Europe 4,581,000 Yes
19  Jamaica[9] Caribbean 2,714,000 Yes
20  Kenya[1] Africa 45,010,056 Yes (used in business and education)
21  Kiribati[1] Oceania 95,000 No
22  Lesotho[1] Africa 2,008,000 No
23  Liberia[1] Africa 3,750,000 No (Majority of people speaks English)
24  Malawi[10] Africa 16,407,000 No
25  Malta[1] Europe 430,000 No (but official and educational)
26  Marshall Islands[1] Oceania 59,000 No
27  Mauritius[1] Africa / Indian Ocean 1,262,000 No
28  Namibia[1] Africa 2,074,000 No (used as lingua franca)
29  Nauru[11] Oceania 10,000 No
30  Nigeria[1][12] Africa 182,202,000 Yes (used as lingua franca)
31  Niue14[1] Oceania 1,600 No
32  Pakistan[1] Asia 199,085,847 No (but official and educational)
33  Palau[3] Oceania 20,000 No
34  Papua New Guinea[13][14] Oceania 7,059,653 No
35  Philippines[1][15] Asia 102,885,100 No (but official and educational)
36  Rwanda[1] Africa 11,262,564 No (but official and educational)
37  Saint Kitts and Nevis[16] Caribbean 50,000 Yes
38  Saint Lucia[1] Caribbean 165,000 Yes
39  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines[17] Caribbean 120,000 Yes
40  Samoa[18] Oceania 188,000 No
41  Seychelles[1] Africa / Indian Ocean 87,000 No
42  Sierra Leone[1] Africa 6,190,280 Yes
43  Singapore[19] Asia 5,469,700[20] No (but official and educational)
44  Solomon Islands[1] Oceania 507,000 No
45  South Africa[21] Africa 54,956,900 No (but official, educated and
lingua franca in formal economy )
46  South Sudan[22] Africa 12,340,000 No
47  Sudan[1] Africa 40,235,000 No
48  Swaziland[1] Africa 1,141,000 No
49  Tanzania[1] Africa 51,820,000 No
50  Tonga[23] Oceania 100,000 No
51  Trinidad and Tobago[1] Caribbean 1,333,000 Yes
52  Tuvalu[3] Oceania 11,000 No
53  Uganda[1] Africa 37,873,253 No (official and educated)[24]
54  Vanuatu[25] Oceania 226,000 No
55  Zambia[1] Africa 16,212,000 No
56  Zimbabwe[1] Africa 13,061,239 No (used as lingua franca)
Countries where English is a de facto official language
# Country Region Population Primary language?
01  Australia Oceania 23,520,000 Yes
02  New Zealand[26] Oceania 4,294,000 Yes
03  United Kingdom Europe 63,705,000 Yes
04  United States North America 318,224,000 Yes
Countries where English is a de facto official, but not primary language
# Country Region Population1
01  Bahrain[27][28] Asia / Middle East 1,378,000
02  Bangladesh[29] Asia 150,039,000
03  Brunei[30][31] Asia 415,717
04  Cyprus[32] Europe 1,141,166
05  Eritrea[1] Africa 6,234,000
06  Ethiopia[1] Africa 85,000,000
07  Israel[33][34][35] Asia / Middle East 8,051,200
08  Malaysia[36] Asia 30,018,242
09  Qatar[37] Asia / Middle East 2,675,522
11  United Arab Emirates[38] Asia / Middle East 5,779,760

Non-sovereign entities

Non-sovereign entities where English is a de jure official language
# Entity Region Population1
01  Akrotiri and Dhekelia Europe 15,700
02  American Samoa11 Oceania 67,700
03  Anguilla[1] Caribbean 13,101
04  Bermuda9[1] North America 65,000
05  British Virgin Islands[1] Caribbean 23,000
06  Cayman Islands[3] Caribbean 47,000
07  Curacao[39] Caribbean 150,563
08  Falkland Islands South Atlantic 3,000
09  Gibraltar[1] Europe 29,257
10  Guam4 Oceania 173,000
11  Hong Kong2[1] Asia 7,097,600
12  Isle of Man8 Europe 80,058
13  Jersey6[1] Europe 89,300
14  Norfolk Island[1] Australia 1,828
15  Northern Mariana Islands7 Oceania 53,883
16  Pitcairn Islands13[1] Oceania 50
17  Puerto Rico3 Caribbean 3,991,000
18  Sint Maarten[40] Caribbean 40,900
19  Turks and Caicos Islands[1] Caribbean 26,000
20  U.S. Virgin Islands5 Caribbean 111,000
Non-sovereign entities where English is a de facto official language
# Entity Region Population1
01  British Indian Ocean Territory Indian Ocean 3,000
02  Guernsey10 Europe 61,811
03  Montserrat[1] Caribbean 5,900
04  Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha[3] South Atlantic 5,660
Non-sovereign entities where English is a de facto official, but not primary, language
# Entity Region Population1
01  Christmas Island12[1] Australia 1,508
02  Cocos (Keeling) Islands[1] Australia 596
03  Tokelau[41] Oceania 1,400

Country subdivisions

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

Country subdivisions where English is a de jure official language
Subdivision Country Region Population
 Alabama[42]  United States North America 4,833,722
 Alaska[43]  United States North America 735,132
 Arizona[44]  United States North America 6,626,624
 Arkansas[42]  United States North America 2,959,373
 California[42]  United States North America 38,332,521
 Colorado[42]  United States North America 5,268,367
 Florida[42]  United States North America 19,552,860
 Georgia[42]  United States North America 9,992,167
 Hawaii[42]  United States Oceania 1,404,054
 Idaho[42]  United States North America 1,612,136
 Illinois[42]  United States North America 12,882,135
 Indiana[42]  United States North America 6,570,902
 Iowa[42]  United States North America 3,090,416
 Kansas[42]  United States North America 2,893,957
 Kentucky[42]  United States North America 4,395,295
 Louisiana[45]  United States North America 4,670,724
 Massachusetts[45]  United States North America 6,794,422
 Mississippi[42]  United States North America 2,991,207
 Missouri[42]  United States North America 6,083,672
 Montana[42]  United States North America 1,015,165
 Nebraska[42]  United States North America 1,868,516
 New Hampshire[42]  United States North America 1,323,459
 North Carolina[42]  United States North America 9,848,060
  North Dakota[42]  United States North America 723,393
 Northern Ireland  United Kingdom Europe
 Oklahoma[46]  United States North America 3,850,568
 Saba[47]  Netherlands Caribbean 1,991
 San Andrés y Providencia[48]  Colombia South America 75,167
 Sarawak[49][50][51]  Malaysia Asia 2,471,140
 Scotland[52]  United Kingdom Europe 5,313,600
 Sint Eustatius[47]  Netherlands Caribbean 3,897
 South Carolina[42]  United States North America 4,774,839
 South Dakota[42]  United States North America 844,877
 Tennessee[42]  United States North America 6,495,978
 Texas[42]  United States North America 27,469,114
 Utah[42]  United States North America 2,900,872
 Virginia[42]  United States North America 8,260,405
 Wales[53]  United Kingdom Europe 3,063,456
 West Virginia[54]  United States North America 1,844,128
 Wyoming[42]  United States North America 582,658

See also


^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.), and refer to the population of the country and not necessarily to the number of inhabitants that speak English in the country in question.
^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 lack general recognition.
^15 Somaliland is a de facto state, recognized internationally as an autonomous region of Somalia.


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  2. ^ "Society". Government Information Service (Barbados). Archived from the original on 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g English usage; "Field Listing - Languages". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  4. ^ "English is now official language of Burundi". IWACU English News. 17 July 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "National Profile". Government Information Agency (Guyana). Archived from the original on 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  6. ^ N. Krishnaswamy; Lalitha Krishnaswamy (6 January 2006). "3.14 English Becomes a Second Language". The story of English in India. Foundation Books. ISBN 978-81-7596-312-2. 
  7. ^ The Constitution
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-01-06. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  9. ^ The Constitution of Jamaica (section 20(6e) ? implicit)
  10. ^ Malawi Investment Promotion Agency (August 2005). "Opportunities for investment and Trade in Malawi ? the Warm Heart of Africa". Government of Malawi. Archived from the original on 2009-02-25. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  11. ^ "Nauru". New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2009-01-18.  English and Nauruan are official.
  12. ^ "Country profile: Nigeria". BBC News. April 30, 2008. Retrieved November 10, 2008. 
  13. ^ "General Information on Papua New Guinea". Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority. Archived from the original on January 31, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  14. ^ "Country profile: Papua New Guinea". BBC News. 2008-11-28. 
  15. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Article XIV". Chanrobles Law Library. 1987. Retrieved October 27, 2007.  (See Article XIV, Section 7)
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  17. ^ "St. Vincent and the Grenadines Profile". Agency for Public Information (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines). Archived from the original on 2010-11-12. Retrieved 2011-06-18. 
  18. ^ "Legislations: List of Acts and Ordinances". The Parliament of Samoa. Archived from the original on October 1, 2006. Retrieved 2009-01-18.  Languages for official legislation are Samoan and English.
  19. ^ Wong, Aline (2000-11-24). "Education in a Multicultural Setting - The Singapore Experience". Ministry of Education, Government of Singapore. Archived from the original on 2008-05-04. Retrieved 2009-01-18. There are four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. 
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  23. ^ Kingdom of Tonga (March 2008). "The United Nations / Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council". Archived from the original on January 25, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-18.  English and Tongan are listed as official.
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  25. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu". Government of the Republic of Vanuatu. 1980. Archived from the original on 2009-01-24. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  26. ^ New Zealand Government (21 December 2007). International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Fifth Periodic Report of the Government of New Zealand (PDF) (Report). p. 89. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 January 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2015. In addition to the M?ori language, New Zealand Sign Language is also an official language of New Zealand. The New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006 permits the use of NZSL in legal proceedings, facilitates competency standards for its interpretation and guides government departments in its promotion and use. English, the medium for teaching and learning in most schools, is a de facto official language by virtue of its widespread use. For these reasons, these three languages have special mention in the New Zealand Curriculum. 
  27. ^ "Bahrain: Languages". Britannica Online. Retrieved June 7, 2017. 
  28. ^ "Living in Bahrain". BSB. Archived from the original on June 24, 2012. Retrieved June 7, 2017. 
  29. ^ "[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."
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ 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. 
  32. ^ Ammon, Ulrich; Dittmar, Norbert; Mattheier, Klaus J.; Trudgill, Peter, eds. (2006). "Greece and Cyprus". Sociolinguistics: an international handbook of the science of language and society / Soziolinguistik: ein internationales Handbuch zur Wissenschaft von Sprache und Gesellschaft. Handbooks of linguistics and communication science / Handbucher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft. 3 (2nd ed.). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 1881?1889. 
  33. ^ 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. 
  34. ^ Bat-Zeev Shyldkrot, Hava (2004). "Part I: Language and Discourse". In Diskin Ravid, Dorit; Bat-Zeev Shyldkrot, Hava. 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. 
  35. ^ 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. 
  36. ^ "English remains an active second language, and serves as the medium of instruction for maths and sciences in all public schools. Malaysian English, also known as Malaysian Standard English, is a form of English derived from British English. Malaysian English is widely used in business, along with Manglish, which is a colloquial form of English with heavy Malay, Chinese, and Tamil influences. The government discourages the misuse of Malay and has instituted fines for public signs that mix Malay and English." "About Malaysia:Language". My Government: The Government of Malaysia's Official Portal. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
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  52. ^ Scottish Government. "Scottish Facts and Information". Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  53. ^ National Assembly for Wales (2012). "National Assembly for Wales (Official Languages) Act 2012". Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
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