If you’re learning English you’re probably curious about where it’s spoken.
As lots of people around the world are learning English, you could say everywhere! Or maybe you think of obvious places, like the USA or the UK.
But did you know that English is the official language of 67 countries and 27 non-sovereign entities? In fact, around 400 million people speak English as a native language.
That makes English the third most spoken language in the world (by native speakers), after Mandarin and Spanish.
And if you’re reading this, then you’re probably one of the more than a billion people that speak English as a second language.
So let’s take a world tour and discover just where all these English-speaking countries throughout the world are. How many have you visited? Or even heard of?
The Top 10 English-Speaking Countries
These are the countries where English is the main language that people speak in their daily lives, not necessarily an official language or a lingua franca.
As you’ll see later, there are some countries with much larger populations where English has official status, even if it’s not the language most people speak.
The top four probably aren’t much of a surprise: the USA, the UK, Canada and Australia.
1.The USA (population of approximately 330 million)
2. The UK (population of around 67 million)
3. Canada (population of around 38 million)
4. Australia (population of around 25 million)
In the rest of the top ten, Ireland and New Zealand probably don’t surprise you, but perhaps some of the others do.
5. Liberia (population of around 5 million)
6. Ireland (population of just under 5 million)
7. New Zealand (population of around 4.8 million)
8. Jamaica (population of around 2.9 million)
9.Trinidad and Tobago (population of around 1.4 million)
10. Guyana (population of around 740,000)
Now let's take a tour of each continent and discover the English-speaking countries there.
English-Speaking Countries In Europe
English-speaking countries in Europe range from the obvious, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, to non-sovereign entities you may not have heard of before.
Did you know that English isn’t actually an official language in the United Kingdom, even though it is the main language of the country? In the Republic of Ireland however, English is a co-official language, along with Irish.
Malta is another country where English is the official language, even if it’s not the main language spoken on this island of 430,000 people.
Cyprus, population 1.2 million, is another island in the Mediterranean where English is widely used, even if it doesn't have official status there.
Otherwise, English is an official language in five non-sovereign entities in Europe:
- Akrotiri and Dhekelia – a British overseas territory on the island of Cyprus, with a population of around 15,000
- Gibraltar (population of 33,000)
- Guernsey (population of approximately 67,000)
- Jersey (population of around 89,000)
- The Isle of Man (population of around 80,000)
English-Speaking Countries In Africa
Let’s turn now to the African continent, where, due to centuries of colonisation, English has an important influence.
English is an official or secondary language over 20 African countries, out of a total of 54.
With a population of 2.3 million, English is the official language in this African nation. But most people speak Setswana, the national language.
English is an official language in this country of around 12 million people along with Kirundi and French.
Cameroon has a population of over 29 million and English is a co-official language with French, although it’s not the main language spoken there.
This east African nation has a population of around 6.2 million people and no official language. Along with Arabic, English is a working language, used in higher education and technical domains.
English and Swazi are official languages in Eswatini, population of 1,160,000. English is used in schools, business and journalism.
Ethiopia has a population of over 113 million people but English is neither a main language, nor is it an official one. In fact, English is used by the government and in education.
With a population of around 2.4 million people, English is an official language but only 0.5% of the population speak it as their native language.
With a population of around 32 million, English is an official language in Ghana, but Asante Twi is the most widely spoken language.
With a population of over 55 million, English and Swahili are official languages in Kenya. English is used in education, business and government.
With a population of over 2 million people, Lesotho has two official languages: English and Sesotho, the national language.
English is both an official language and a lingua franca in this country of around 5 million.
Malawi’s population of over 20 million people use English as an official language, but Chichewa is the most widely spoken language.
In this island nation of around 1.2 million people there's no official language, but English and French are the languages of government, business and the courts. Mauritian Creole is most people's native language.
English is an official language, but only about 3% of the approximately 2 million inhabitants speak the language at home.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with over 200 million people. English is an official language, but few people speak it as their main language. Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba are more common in daily life, but there are actually over 500 languages in Nigeria!
With a population of over 13 million people, Rwanda is a country where English is the official language along with Kinyarwanda (the main language), French, and Swahili.
Just under 100,000 people live in this island nation where English, French and Seychelles Creole are official languages. Seychelles creole is the native language of 90% of the population, while English is used for business or legal purposes.
96% of the population of 7 million speak Krio or Sierra Leonean Creole, which is based on English. English has the status of official language in the country.
English is an official language of this country of 60 million inhabitants, even if there are 10 other official languages including Zulu, Afrikaans and Xhosa. And in fact, Zulu and Xhosa are more widely spoken than English and Afrikaans.
Over 60 indigineous languages are spoken in this country of 12 million where English is an official language.
Two languages have official status in this country of over 45 million people – English and Arabic
This country of over 63 million inhabitants has two official languages – English and Swahili, but Sawhili is the national language, helping to unify the country’s diverse ethnic groups.
English and Swahili are also the two official languages of this country of around 46 million people.
The official language of this country of 19 million people is English which is spoken in the contexts of business and education.
With 15 million inhabitants, Zimbabwe has 16 official languages! English Shona, and Ndebele are the most common.
English-Speaking countries In The Caribbean
English is a primary and official language in many places in the Caribbean, including these countries.
Antigua and Barbuda
English is the working language of this Carribean nation of around 97,000 inhabitants. But people also speak an English-based creole, Antuigan creole.
The official language of the Bahamas is English, but many of the 400,000 or so inhabitants of this nation also speak a English-based creole called Bahamian dialect.
Around 287,000 people live in Barbados and English is the official language of the island nation, even if most people use Bajan creole in their daily life.
English is also the official language of this island nation of around 70,000 people, but its inhabitants also speak Dominican creole which is based on French.
Around 112,000 people live in this island nation where English is the official language but the population also speaks Grenadian Creole English or less commonly, Grenadian Creole French.
English is the official language of this island country of around 2.7 million people. But many people speak Jamaican patois, an English-based creole.
Saint Kitts And Nevis
English is also the official language of this island nation of just under 50,000 people. Like many other countries in the region, its inhabitants also speak an English-based creole, Saint Kitts creole.
In this island nation of around 184,000 inhabitants English is the official language, while 95% of the population also speak Saint Lucian French creole.
Saint Vincent And The Grenadines
Around 100,00 people live in this island nation where English is the official language, but Vincentian Creole is the language people speak informally.
Trinidad and Tobago
In this island nation of around 1.3 million people, English is once again the official language, but the main language spoken by the population is one of two English-based creoles: Trinidadian Creole or Tobagonian Creole.
English is also an official language in several non-sovereign entities in the Caribbean, even if it isn’t always the main one its inhabitants speak. In Puerto Rico and Sint Maarten English is a co-official language, along with Spanish and Dutch respectively.
- Anguilla (population of around 15,000)
- British Virgin Islands (population approximately 30,000)
- Cayman Islands (population 78,000)
- Curaçao, is a polyglot island with a population of approximately 150,000
- Montserrat (population of around 5000)
- Puerto Rico (population approximately 3.2 million)
- Sint Maarten (population 40,000)
- Turks and Caicos Islands (population approximately 44,000)
- US Virgin Islands (population 87,000)
English-Speaking Countries In Asia
In Asia you’ll find some of the biggest English speaking countries in terms of population.
English and Hindi are the official languages of this country of 1.2 billion, but there are more speakers of Hindi which is also the official language of the government.
English is used more in business, administration and education, particularly in higher education.
With a population of almost 242 million people, English is an official language along with Urdu, which is the national language. English is used in business, government and legal contexts.
Filipino and English are the two official languages of this country with a population of 109 million. But in fact, you’ll find 186 languages spoken there!
English is the lingua franca of this island country and city-state of just over 5 million people, which has three other official languages: Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil.
The official and national language of this country of over 150 million is Bengali. But English is spoken and used in certain contexts (legal and educational), even if it’s not the main language or even an official one.
In this small country in the Himalayas where Dzongkha is the national language, English is used as the language of instruction in schools.
The main language is khmer but English is replacing French as the main foreign language, meaning street signs are in English and khmer. English has also replaced French on stamps and currency.
The official language is Malay, but English is used for some official purposes.
This island nation has a national and official language: Dhivehi. But English is a recognised language and is widely spoken by the population of around half a million people.
The official language is Burmese but Myanmar is incredibly linguistically diverse, with more than 100 languages spoken there, including English.
This island nation has two official languages: Tamil and Sinhala. English is a recognised language used in the contexts of education, science and business.
This city and special administrative region of China has two official languages: English and Cantonese.
English-Speaking Countries Of The Middle East
In the countries of the Middle East listed below, it’s common for English to be widely spoken even if it isn’t an official language. You’ll find it on signs or official documents and in contexts such as business, education and medicine.
- Bahrain – English is a recognised language.
- Jordan – English is a co-official language in education
- The United Arab Emirates – you’ll need to speak English if you want to work here!
English-Speaking Countries In Oceania
English is the main language (but not an official one!) in Australia and New Zealand, but where else do people speak English in Oceania?
In the following countries, English is an official language, but not always the main language spoken by these populations.
- Fiji (population around 926,000) – co-official with Fijian and Fiji Hindi
- Kiribati (population around 119,000) – co-official with Gilbertese
- Marshall Islands (population around 60,000) – co-official with Marshallese
- Micronesia (population around 104,000)
- Nauru (population around 10,000) – co-official with Nauruan
- Palau (population approximately 18,000) co-official with Palauan
- Papua New Guinea (population of around 8.9 million) – the most linguistically diverse place on earth
- Samoa (population of approximately 200,000) – co-official with Samoan
- Solomon Islands (population of approximately 700,000) – most people speak Solomons Pijin, an English-based creole
- Tonga (population of approximately 104,000) – co-official with Tongan
- Tuvalu (population of approximately 11,000) – co-official with Tuvaluan which is what most people actually speak
- Vanuatu (population of approximately 307,000) – co-official with Bislama and French
English is also an official language, usually co-official language, in the following non-sovereign entities in Oceania, even if it’s not necessarily the main language spoken there:
- American Samoa (population approximately 67,000)
- Cook Islands (population approximately 17,000)
- Guam (population approximately 168,000)
- Niue (population of just under 2000)
- Norfolk Island (population of around 2000)
- Northern Mariana Islands (population of approximately 55,000)
- Pitcairn Islands (just under 50 people live in this British Overseas Territory)
- Rotuma (population of approximately 1500) – Rotuman, English, Fijian and Fiji Hindi are all official languages in this Fijian dependency
- Tokelau (population of approximately 1500)
English Speaking Countries In The Americas
Apart from the USA and Canada, where else do people speak English in North and South America? English is also an official language in the following four countries:
- Belize (population of around 397,000) is the only central American country where English is an official language
- Guyana (population of around 740,000)
- Bermuda (population of around 70,000)
- Falkland Islands (population of around 3000)
English Is A Truly Global Language
Wow, that truly was a world tour. English-speaking countries are everywhere.
If you want to know more about the history of English and how it spread around the world, check out this post – why does the whole world speak English?
By the way, if you'd like to improve your English (I know English is hard), my top recommendation is to use the StoryLearning® method. That means reading in English. And reading short stories in English is a great way to do this.
As you immerse yourself in English by reading, you'll learn the vocabulary and grammar naturally. And have fun in the process!