List of countries and territories where English is an official language

The following is a list of countries and territories where English is an official language—that is, a language used in citizen interactions with government officials. As of 2020, there were 59 sovereign states and 27 non-sovereign entities where English was an official language. Many administrative divisions have declared English an official language at the local or regional level.

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 a majority language
  Official as a minority language
  Co-official as a majority language
  Co-official as a minority language

Most states where English is an official language are former territories of the British Empire. Exceptions include Rwanda and Burundi, which were formerly German and then Belgian colonies; Cameroon, where only part of national territory was under British mandate; and Liberia, the Philippines, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau, which were American territories. English is the sole official language of the Commonwealth of Nations and of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). English is one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union, NAFTA, the African Union, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Caribbean Community, the Union of South American Nations, and many other international organisations. Although English is not de jure 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, and only Puerto Rico uses a language other than English as a primary working language.

The United Kingdom, the United States, 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 their de facto official language because it dominates in these countries.

Sovereign states

Countries where English is a de jure official language
Country ISO code Geographic region Population1 Primary language?
Antigua and Barbuda ATG Caribbean 85,000 Yes (English-based creole language)
The Bahamas[1] BHS Caribbean 331,000 Yes (English-based creole language)
Barbados[2] BRB Caribbean 294,000 Yes (English-based creole language)
Belize[3] BLZ Central America 288,000 Yes (English-based creole language)
Botswana[3] BWA Africa 1,882,000 Yes
Burundi[4] BDI Africa 10,114,505 No
Cameroon[1] CMR Africa 22,534,532 No (co-official with French, but only spoken primarily in the Northwest and Southwest of the country)
Canada CAN North America 38,048,738 Yes (Co-official with French, and a predominant language nationwide except for Quebec and Nunavut)
Dominica[1] DMA Caribbean 73,000 Yes (French-based creole language)
Eswatini[1] SWZ Africa 1,141,000 No
Fiji[1] FJI Oceania 828,000 Yes (used as lingua franca, mostly and widely spoken, educational, commerce, and government)
The Gambia[1] GMB Africa 1,709,000 Yes
Ghana[1] GHA Africa 27,000,000 Yes (used as lingua franca)
Grenada[1] GRD Caribbean 111,000 Yes (English-based creole language)
Guyana[5] GUY South America 738,000 Yes (English-based creole language)
India[3][6] IND Asia 1,393,500,000 No (but official and educational)
Ireland[7][8] IRL Europe 4,900,000 Yes (Irish is co-official)
Jamaica[9] JAM Caribbean 2,714,000 Yes (English-based creole language)
Kenya[1] KEN Africa 45,010,056 Yes (used in business and education)
Kiribati[1] KIR Oceania 95,000 No
Lesotho[1] LSO Africa 2,008,000 No
Liberia[1] LBR Africa 3,750,000 Yes
Malawi[10] MWI Africa 16,407,000 Yes (used as lingua franca)
Malta[1] MLT Europe 430,000 No (but official and in business / education)
Marshall Islands[1] MHL Oceania 59,000 No
Mauritius[1] MUS Africa / Indian Ocean 1,262,000 Yes
Micronesia[1] FSM Oceania 110,000 Yes
Namibia[1] NAM Africa 2,074,000 No (used as lingua franca)
Nauru[11] NRU Oceania 10,000 No (but widely spoken)
Nigeria[1][12] NGA Africa 182,202,000 Yes (used as official language)
Pakistan[1] PAK Asia 212,742,631 No (but official and educational)
Palau[3] PLW Oceania 20,000 No
Papua New Guinea[13][14] PNG Oceania 7,059,653 Yes (official and educational)
Philippines PHL Asia 110,864,327 No (but official and educational)
Rwanda[15] RWA Africa 13,240,439 No
Saint Kitts and Nevis[16] KNA Caribbean 50,000 Yes (English-based creole language)
Saint Lucia[1] LCA Caribbean 165,000 Yes (French-based creole language)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines[17] VCT Caribbean 120,000 Yes (English-based creole language)
Samoa[18] WSM Oceania 188,000 No
Seychelles[1] SYC Africa / Indian Ocean 87,000 No
Sierra Leone[1] SLE Africa 6,190,280 Yes (English-based creole language)
Singapore SGP Asia 5,469,700 Yes (official language, lingua franca, mostly and widely spoken, and educational)
Solomon Islands[1] SLB Oceania 507,000 Yes
South Africa[19] ZAF Africa 54,956,900 Yes (official, educational and lingua franca in formal economy)
South Sudan[20] SSD Africa 12,340,000 Yes
Sudan[1] SDN Africa 40,235,000 No
Tanzania[1] TZA Africa 51,820,000 No
Tonga[21] TON Oceania 100,000 No
Trinidad and Tobago[1] TTO Caribbean 1,333,000 Yes (English-based creole language)
Tuvalu[3] TUV Oceania 11,000 No
Uganda[22] UGA Africa 47,053,690 No (used as lingua franca)
Vanuatu[23] VUT Oceania 226,000 No
Zambia[1] ZMB Africa 16,212,000 Yes (used as lingua franca)
Zimbabwe[1] ZWE Africa 13,061,239 No (used as lingua franca)
Countries where English is a predominant language conventionally spoken by both the government and main population, despite it having no de jure official status at national level
Country ISO code Geographic region Population1 Primary language?
Australia AUS Oceania 25,795,700 Yes
New Zealand[24] NZL Oceania 4,893,830 Yes
United Kingdom GBR Europe 66,040,229 Yes
United States USA North America 328,239,523 Yes
Countries where English is a de facto working language in government or education, but it is not recognized as de jure official, nor a primary language spoken by the main population
Country ISO code Geographic region Population1
Bahrain[25][26] BHR Asia / Middle East 1,378,000
Bangladesh[27] BGD Asia 150,039,000
Bhutan[28] BTN Asia 727,145
Cambodia[29] KHM Asia 15,288,489
Cyprus[30] CYP Europe / Asia / Middle East 1,141,166
Eritrea[1] ERI Africa 6,234,000
Ethiopia[1] ETH Africa 85,000,000
Israel[31][32][33] ISR Asia / Middle East 8,051,200
Jordan[34] JOR Asia / Middle East 9,882,401
Kuwait[35] KWT Asia / Middle East 4,348,395
Malaysia MYS Asia 32,730,000
Maldives[36] MDV Asia 427,756
Myanmar[37] MMR Asia 51,486,253
Oman[38] OMN Asia / Middle East 4,424,762
Qatar[39] QAT Asia / Middle East 2,675,522
Sri Lanka[40][41] LKA Asia 20,277,597
United Arab Emirates[42] ARE Asia / Middle East 9,809,000

Non-sovereign entities

Non-sovereign entities where English is a de jure official language
Entity Sovereign state Region Population1 Primary language?
Akrotiri and Dhekelia United Kingdom Europe 15,700 No
American Samoa11 United States Oceania 67,700 No (official language)
Anguilla[1] United Kingdom Caribbean 18,090 No (English-based creole language)
Bermuda9[1] United Kingdom North America 65,000 Yes
British Virgin Islands[1] United Kingdom Caribbean 23,000 No (English-based creole language)
Cayman Islands[3] United Kingdom Caribbean 47,000 Yes (English-based creole language)
Cook Islands[1]14 New Zealand Oceania 20,000 No
Curaçao[43] Netherlands Caribbean 150,563 No
Falkland Islands United Kingdom South America 3,000 Yes
Gibraltar[1] United Kingdom Europe 33,000 Yes
Guam4 United States Oceania 173,000 Yes (co-official with Chamorro)
Hong Kong2[1] China Asia 7,097,600 No (but de jure and de facto co-official with Chinese[44])
Isle of Man8 United Kingdom Europe 80,058 Yes
Jersey6[1] United Kingdom Europe 89,300 Yes
Niue[1]14 New Zealand Oceania 1,600 No
Norfolk Island[1] Australia Oceania 1,828 No (English-based creole language)
Northern Mariana Islands7 United States Oceania 53,883 Yes (co-official with Chamorro)
Pitcairn Islands13[1] United Kingdom Oceania 50 Yes
Puerto Rico3 United States Caribbean 3,991,000 No (co-official with Spanish as the primary language)
Rotuma Fiji Oceania 1,594 No
Sint Maarten[45] Netherlands Caribbean 40,900 No (English-based creole language)
Turks and Caicos Islands[1] United Kingdom Caribbean 26,000 No (English-based creole language)
U.S. Virgin Islands5 United States Caribbean 111,000 No (English-based creole language)
Non-sovereign entities where English is a de facto official language
Entity Sovereign state Region Population1
Barbuda Antigua and Barbuda Caribbean 1,300
British Indian Ocean Territory United Kingdom Indian Ocean 3,000
Guernsey10 United Kingdom Europe 61,811
Montserrat[1] United Kingdom Caribbean 5,900
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha[3] United Kingdom South Atlantic 5,660
Non-sovereign entities where English is a de facto official, but not a primary language
Entity Sovereign state Region Population1
Christmas Island12[1] Australia Southeast Asia 1,508
Cocos (Keeling) Islands16[1] Australia Southeast Asia 596
Tokelau[46] New Zealand 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
San Andrés y Providencia[47] Colombia South America 75,167
Sarawak[48][49][50] Malaysia Asia 2,471,140
Saba[51] Netherlands Caribbean 1,991
Sint Eustatius[51] 3,897
Scotland[52] United Kingdom Europe 5,424,800
Wales[53] 3,125,000
Alabama[54] United States North America 4,833,722
Alaska[55] 735,132
Arizona[56] 6,626,624
Arkansas[54] 2,959,373
California[54] 38,332,521
Colorado[54] 5,268,367
Florida[54] 21,299,325
Georgia[54] 10,519,475
Hawaii[54] Oceania 1,404,054
Idaho[54] North America 1,612,136
Illinois[54] 12,882,135
Indiana[54] 6,570,902
Iowa[54] 3,090,416
Kansas[54] 2,893,957
Kentucky[54] 4,395,295
Massachusetts[57] 6,794,422
Mississippi[54] 2,991,207
Missouri[54] 6,083,672
Montana[54] 1,015,165
Nebraska[54] 1,868,516
New Hampshire[54] 1,323,459
North Carolina[54] 9,848,060
North Dakota[54] 723,393
Oklahoma[58] 3,850,568
South Carolina[54] 4,774,839
South Dakota[54] 844,877
Tennessee[54] 6,495,978
Utah[54] 2,900,872
Virginia[54] 8,260,405
West Virginia[59] 1,844,128
Wyoming[54] 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 The 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.
^16 Cocos (Keeling) Islands is an external territory of Australia.


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  7. The Constitution
  8. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-01-06. Retrieved 2013-01-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  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.
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  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.
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  15. "Rwanda's Constitution of 2003 with Amendments through 2015" (PDF). Comparative Constitutions Project. p. 5-6. Retrieved 16 October 2022. Article 8. National language and official languages The National language is Ikinyarwanda. The official languages are Ikinyarwanda, English and French
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  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. "Constitution of the Republic of South Africa". Constitutional Court of South Africa. Archived from the original on 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
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  21. 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.
  22. "Constitution of Uganda" (PDF). International Labour Organization. p. 6. Retrieved 16 October 2022. Article 6. Official Language (1) The official language of Uganda is English
  23. "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.
  24. 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 Māori 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.
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  27. "[T]eaching of English continued in primary, secondary and tertiary level not because it was the official language but it became the language 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."
  28. English has been the primary language of instruction for five decades in Bhutan, at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Dendup, Tashi and Angkana Onthanee. 2020. "Effectiveness of Cooperative Learning on English Communicative Ability of 4th Grade Students in Bhutan." International Journal of Instruction, v13 n1(Jan) p255-266.
  29. English Language and its Education in Cambodia, a Country in Transition, Koji Igawa. (PDF) . Retrieved on 6 February 2020.
  30. 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 / Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft. Vol. 3 (2nd ed.). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 1881–1889. ISBN 9783110184181.
  31. 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.
  32. Bat-Zeev Shyldkrot, Hava (2004). "Part I: Language and Discourse". In Diskin Ravid, Dorit; Bat-Zeev Shyldkrot, Hava (eds.). 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.
  33. 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.
  34. " English, though without official status, is widely spoken throughout the country and is the de facto language of commerce and banking, as well as a co-official status in the education sector; almost all university-level classes are held in English and almost all public schools teach English along with Standard Arabic." de Gruyter, Walter (2006). Sociolinguistics: An International Handbook of the Science of Language and Society. Ulrich Ammon. p. 1921. ISBN 9783110184181. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  35. " English is widely spoken. It is used in business and is a compulsory second language in schools." "Kuwait Guide". Commisceo Global. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  36. "Other languages spoken in Maldives include English, which is also recognized as the second main language. Initially, Dhivehi was used as the medium of teaching in schools, but the need to promote higher education led to the conversion of syllabus in English. Now, English is widely spoken by the locals of Maldives." "Maldives Languages". Retrieved Feb 2, 2017.
  37. Lintner, Bertil (2003), "Myanmar/Burma", in MacKerras, Colin, Ethnicity in Asia, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-25816-2
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  41. Under the constitution of 1978, Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages of Sri Lanka, but English is "the link language." Any person is entitled "to receive communications from, and to communicate and transact business with, any official in his official capacity" in English, to receive an English translation of "any official register, record, publication or other document," and "to communicate and transact business in English." English translations must be made for "all laws and subordinate legislation," "all Orders, Proclamations, rules, by-laws, regulations and notifications." "THE CONSTITUTION OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA: Chapter IV". 1978. Archived from the original on 2003-02-03. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
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