Picture English

English speaking countries

English is an official language in 41 countries and is partly spoken as a mother tongue in 18 other countries. The English language has its roots in the Indo-European language family.

With 272.48 million native speakers, English has the highest prevalence in the United States of America. As a percentage of the total population, the largest share of around 100 percent is in the Bermudas. A total of about 456.0 million people worldwide speak English as their mother tongue.

Origins of the English language

Despite today's worldwide distribution and its designation as a world language, English is a Germanic language and used to be spoken exclusively in England — the south-eastern part of Great Britain. The Angles and Saxons had a great influence on the language, which is why English is still occasionally referred to as "Anglo-Saxon." The language has changed several times since the middle of the first millennium over several stages of development and has been influenced by Danish, Norwegian and French, while retaining its essential West Germanic traits.

From the British mainland, it initially displaced the Celtic languages on the surrounding islands. The British colonial rule over numerous overseas territories in all parts of the world has spread the English language since the 16th century — albeit initially only in very limited regions. Due to the British Empire and the increased settlement of North America, Africa and Australia, English became increasingly important. Today it is the most widely spoken language when second and school languages are taken into account.

English is the official language in many countries and for some decades was also in international organisations such as the European and African Union, ASEAN and the United Nations.

Varieties and mixture of languages

English is now the first foreign language taught in many countries. In many countries, so-called varieties have developed that use English as a basis, but mix it with national language characteristics. The best known example of this is the difference between British and American English. Although most words sound identical, words are sometimes pronounced or written in different variations depending on the region, like "grey" or "gray." Examples like this can be found in almost all countries.

In the opposite case, the English language is not adapted to one's own dialect, but Anglicisms are formed by incorporating English words into one's own vocabulary. In many languages, for example, the term "computer" is used, although it is a purely English word.

Distribution English

CountryRegionOfficial languageDistributionTotal
United States of AmericaNorth Americayes82.1 %272,485,000
United KingdomNorthern Europeyes97.3 %65,509,000
IndiaSouth Asiayes3.2 %45,625,000
CanadaNorth Americayes58.7 %22,450,000
AustraliaAustralia/New Zealandyes76.8 %19,728,000
South AfricaSouthern Africayes9.6 %5,702,000
GhanaWestern Africayes15.3 %5,023,000
IrelandNorthern Europeyes98.4 %4,953,000
New ZealandAustralia/New Zealandyes72.6 %3,719,000
PhilippinesSoutheast Asiayes2.2 %2,505,000
SingaporeSoutheast Asiayes29.8 %1,625,000
Trinidad and TobagoCaribbeanno93.5 %1,426,000
ChileSouth Americano5.2 %1,014,000
PanamaCentral Americayes13.4 %583,000
CameroonCentral Africayes2.0 %544,000
MalaysiaSoutheast Asiano1.6 %537,000
Sierra LeoneWestern Africayes4.7 %396,000
ZimbabweEastern Africayes2.2 %352,000
ZambiaEastern Africayes1.7 %331,000
Hong KongEast Asiayes3.5 %259,000
Puerto RicoCaribbeanyes5.5 %179,000
LiberiaWestern Africayes2.5 %130,000
JapanEast Asiano0.1 %126,000
JerseyNorthern Europeyes94.5 %97,000
NamibiaSouthern Africano3.4 %86,000
Virgin IslandsCaribbeanyes74.7 %79,000
GuamMicronesiayes43.6 %74,000
BermudaNorth Americayes100.0 %64,000
Cayman IslandsCaribbeanyes90.6 %62,000
BotswanaSouthern Africayes2.1 %54,000
CyprusWestern Asiano4.1 %51,000
Saint LuciaCaribbeanyes20.0 %36,000
MaltaSouthern Europeyes6.0 %31,000
GibraltarSouthern Europeyes88.9 %29,000
NorwayNorthern Europeno0.5 %27,000
DenmarkNorthern Europeno0.3 %18,000
MacaoEast Asiano2.3 %16,000
BelizeCentral Americayes3.9 %16,000
BruneiSoutheast Asiano3.1 %14,000
RwandaEastern Africano0.1 %13,000
BurundiEastern Africano0.1 %13,000
Sao Tome and PrincipeCentral Africano4.9 %11,000
Northern Mariana IslandsMicronesiayes17.0 %8,000
VanuatuMelanesiayes2.0 %6,000
Sint MaartenCaribbeanno12.0 %5,000
SeychellesEastern Africayes5.1 %5,000
Saint MartinCaribbeanno14.0 %4,000
CuracaoCaribbeanno2.9 %4,000
Cook IslandsPolynesiayes42.7 %3,000
Falkland IslandsSouth Americayes89.0 %3,000
PalauMicronesiayes15.5 %3,000
Principality of MonacoWestern Europeno6.5 %2,000
SamoaPolynesiayes0.6 %1,000
American SamoaPolynesiayes2.9 %1,000
Norfolk IslandAustralia/New Zealandyes67.6 %1,000
Caribbean NetherlandsCaribbeanno2.8 %700
NiuePolynesiayes24.0 %500
TokelauPolynesiayes27.4 %500
NauruMicronesiayes2.0 %300

Unless otherwise described in the text, this page is about native speakers — not the total number of speakers. How many people understand or speak English as a subsequently learned language is not the subject of this page. Countries where native speakers make up only a few thousand, or even a few hundred people, or countries with a percentage well below 1% are unlikely to be listed here.