[Map] Where and which are the French speaking countries in the world ?

Alexandre Desoutter Alexandre Desoutter  updated on 2021-02-10

This map was produced on the basis of official figures from the Observatory of French language of the International Organization of Francophony (IOF) and upon the work of the ODSEF research center of the Laval University of Quebec (Canada). Those numbers are valid for the year 2018, the last date on which the data were updated. The IOF considers a French speak “every person capable of discussing in French”.


Where in the world are the French speaking countries and speakers ?

In 2018, the Observatory of French language of the International Organization of Francophony (IOF) counted more than 301 million French speakers through the world. As shown in the table below, French speaking countries and speakers in Africa are numerous, every more than French speaking countries in Europe:

ContinentsTotal number of Francophones (2018)Proportion
Africa 140,909,00046.80%
Europe134,442,00044.65%
North America 14 ,270,0004.74%
South America & Caribbean5,743,0001.91%
Near & Middle East 3,180,0001.06%
Asia & Oceania2,552,0000.85%
Total301,096,000100%
Distribution of Francophones around the world (source : Observatory of French language of the IOF and ODSEF)

The 15 most French speaking countries in the world

Here’s the top 3 French speaking countries in the world, in terms of people speaking French:

1. France

66.1 million of French speakers

2. D.R. of Congo

42.6 million of French speakers

3. Algeria

13.8 million of French speakers


Then come the following French speaking countries in the ranking:

RankCountriesNumber of Francophones
4Morocco12,729,000
5Germany 12,242,000
6Italia11,520,000
7Canada10,982,000
8United Kingdom 10,931,000
9Cameroon10,006,000
10Belgium8,678,000
11Ivory Coast 8,259,000
12Tunisia 6,081,000
13Switzerland 5,734,000
14Spain 5,443,000
15Madagascar5,253,000
The French speaking countries ranked by French speakers numbers (source : Observatory of French language of the IOF and ODSEF)

Which countries have the highest proportion of French speakers in their population?

Here below are the 3 French speaking countries in the world that have the highest French speaking levels into their national population:

1. France

95.6% of Francophones

2. Belgium

75.5% of Francophones

3. Mauritius Island

72.6% of Francophones


Then come the following French speaking countries in the ranking:

RankCountries Proportion of Francophones
4Switzerland67.11%
5Gabon66.15%
6Congo58.93%
7Seychelles52.63%
8Tunisia52.16%
9Democratic Republic of Congo50.63%
10Djibouti50.05%
11Haïti42.00%
12Cameroon40.55%
13Togo40.26%
14Lebanon37.99%
15Morocco35.17%
20Canada29.47%
*Out of micro states
Ranking of countries with the highest proportion of Francophones in their population (source : Observatory of the French language of IOF and ODSEF)

Focus n°1 : the French language in Canada

In total, according to the numbers of the Observatory of the French Language, out of the 37.3 million of Canadians, a little less than 11 million are Francophones, which represents a proportion of about 29.5 % French speakers in the overall Canadian population. Thus, on international level, Canada is classified as:

  • The 7th country of the world counting the more Francophones in number
  • The 20th country of the world counting the more Francophones in proportion of its population.

In Canada, French speakers are mainly distributed in the following three provinces:

1. Quebec

7.8 million of French speakers
i.e. 93.3% of the population

2. Ontario

1.7 million of French speakers
i.e. 11.4% of the population

3. New-Brunswick

779,000 of French speakers
i.e. 41.9% of the population

Focus n°2 : the French language in Maghreb

The Maghreb region gathers among the most active French speaking countries in Africa. Regarding numbers of the Observatory of the French language in 2018, out of the 90 million inhabitants who populate the 3 Maghreb countries (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia), 32.6 million are Francophones, i.e. a proportion of 36.3 % of French-speakers within the total Maghreb population.

North Africa remains, in 2018, an important Francophony land. Here’s the repartition of French speakers between those 3 countries:

1. Algeria

13.8 million of Francophones
i.e. 32.9% of the population

2. Morocco

12.7 million of Francophones
i.e. 37.2% of the population

3. Tunisia

6.1 million of Francophones
i.e. 52.2% of the population

Thus:

  • Algeria is classified as the third country counting the more French speakers in the world (Morocco is fourth)
  • Tunisia is classified as the eighth country in the world counting the more French speakers in proportion of its population

Will there be more than a billion French speakers in 2065?

As observed above, Africa is, in 2018, the continent which concentrates the most Francophones with about 141 million people (i.e. 7.5 million more than in Europe). With the present and future demographic dynamism of most of the French speaking countries in Africa, The IOF predicts that the population of all countries with French as their official language will exceed one billion shortly before 2065.

Comparison of the hypotheses for the evolution of the number of Spanish and French speakers in the world (source : ODSEF)

Indeed, the IOF anticipates a much greater demographic dynamism of countries with French as their official language over the next five decades, in comparison with other groups of countries with Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese or German as their official language. Nevertheless, as shown in the tables above, countries with French as their official language are far from having 100% of their inhabitants who speak the language of Molière.

So, it is very unlikely that the billion of French speakers will be exceeded in 2065, all the population of the French speaking countries will grow a lot in the meantime.


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