What Countries Have English as an Official Language?

map of English speaking countries
Map of English speaking countries.

Sulez raz / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

The English language developed in Europe in the middle ages. It was named after a Germanic tribe, the Angles, that migrated to England. The language has been developing for over a thousand years. While its roots are Germanic, the language has adopted many words that originated in other languages. With words from many different languages making their way into the modern English lexicon as well. French and Latin are two languages that had a large impact on modern English.

Countries Where English Is an Official Language

  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Botswana
  • The British Virgin Islands
  • Cameroon
  • Canada (except Quebec)
  • Cayman Islands
  • Dominica
  • England
  • Fiji
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Gibraltar
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland, Northern
  • Ireland, Republic of
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Malawi
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Montserrat
  • Namibia
  • New Zeland
  • Nigeria
  • Papua New Guinea
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Scotland
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Africa
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • The Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Uganda
  • United Kingdom
  • Vanuatu
  • Wales
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Why English Is Not the Official Language of the United States

Even when the United States was made up of various colonies, multiple languages were commonly spoken. While most colonies were under British rule, immigrants from all over Europe chose to make "the New World" their home. For this reason, during the first Continental Congress, it was decided that no official language would be chosen. Today many think declaring an official National language could violate the first amendment, but this has been untested in the courts. Thirty-one states have chosen to make it the official state language. English may not be the official language of the United States, but it is the most widely spoken language in the country, with Spanish as the second most common language.

How English Became a Global Language 

A global language is one that is spoken by millions of people around the globe. English is one of these languages. But as an ESL student will tell you, English is one of the hardest languages to master. The sheer size of the language and its many linguistic oddities, like irregular verbs, can be challenging for students. So how did English become one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world?

After World War II, technological and medical advances in English speaking nations made the language a popular second choice for many students. As international trade grew larger each year, the need for a common language also grew. The ability to communicate with clients all over the world is a valuable asset in a global economy. Parents, hoping to give their children a leg up in the business world, also pushed their children to learn the language. This helped propel English towards being a global language.

The Language of Travelers

When traveling the globe, it's worth noting that there are few places in the world where a little English won't help you out. While it's always nice to learn some of the language of the country you're visiting, having a shared common language to fall back on is great. It allows speakers to feel like they are a part of the global community.

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Your Citation
Rosenberg, Matt. "What Countries Have English as an Official Language?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/english-speaking-countries-1435414. Rosenberg, Matt. (2020, August 28). What Countries Have English as an Official Language? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/english-speaking-countries-1435414 Rosenberg, Matt. "What Countries Have English as an Official Language?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/english-speaking-countries-1435414 (accessed June 7, 2023).