French Speaking Countries In South America, North & Central – In America a great diversity of languages coexist in their majority of indigenous origin. However, the most spoken languages were those established by the European colonizers: Spanish, English, Portuguese and French.
Each country that makes up this immense American land owns an inherited language with several languages spoken according to the influence of colonizers.
Check out this list of American countries and their respective official language (French).
French Speaking Countries In South America, North & Central
1. French Guiana
French Guiana is the only territory in South America where French is the official language. French, like Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian, is a Romance language and a descendant of vulgar Latin. French replaced Latin as the official language of France in 1539. Twenty-nine countries and 14 dependent territories speak French as their official language, which makes it the second most recognized official language after English. It is a procedural language for the European Union, as well as a deliberative language for the Court of Justice and the United Nations. There’s an estimation of over 300 million people who speak French around the world. However, this number represents native, non-native, partial speakers, and those who speak the various dialects and Creoles of the language. It is the sixth most spoken language after Mandarin, English, Hindi, Spanish and Arabic. It is the second most studied foreign language after English with more than 120 million students. It is estimated that by 2050 the population of French-speaking people will increase to about 700 million. French, Spanish, and Portuguese are the dominant languages of South America. French Guiana is the only territory in South America where French is the official language. French Guiana is an overseas department of France located on the North Atlantic coast of South America. The borders with Suriname are to the west and Brazil to the east. French Guiana is the only European territory in continental America. It is a member of the European Union and the Eurozone.
Canada was colonized first by the French and then the English arrived.
It is the largest French-speaking country in the American continent. Composed of 10 provinces and three territories, their official languages are English and French. Although the most spoken language is English, you can find French speakers throughout the Canadian territory. Thanks to the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick, French is cultivated significantly in the land of the maple (the national symbol). 59.7% of the population is English-speaking and the remaining 23.2% is French-speaking. Even though English and French have the same status in federal court, English is still the most spoken language in almost all provinces of Canada. To achieve Canadian citizenship, the person has to speak either of the two languages: English or French. 98.5% of Canadians speak at least one of the two: 67.5% are monolingual in English, 13.3% monolingual in French (according to The Ethnologue it is 15.3%) and 17.7% are bilingual. Although French is spoken a little in areas such as Northeast, East, and Southwest of Ontario (province with the largest number of French speakers after Québec), Southeast of Manitoba and in parts of Northeast New Brunswick, it is in Québec where the French-speaking population predominates. 5% are monolingual in English, 13.3% monolingual in French (according to The Ethnologue it is 15.3%) and 17.7% are bilingual.
Haiti is considered a legally bilingual country, its official languages are French and Haitian Creole. The establishment of the Haitian Creole has been a process of struggle for its acceptance.
In the constitution of 1918, it is established that French is the official language and that employment was mandatory in the administrative and judicial areas. Then, in article 35 of the 1964 constitution, it is established that French is the official language and its use was mandatory in public services, Although the official languages are Haitian Creole and French, the preferred language is French. This used as a symbol of superiority, an example of this is the fact that the official documents of the Republic are written only in French as is the case of the constitution. The texts written in Creole are only the product of an initiative of a translator, but they are not considered official. French is a language inherited from colonialism.
The Commonwealth of Dominica is located between the French overseas territories of Guadeloupe in the north and Martinique in the south.
The French were the first Europeans to achieve colonization in the island, Dominica has its official languages like French and English, despite the British takeover of the island by force, the French presence has spread over the years even after France formally granted possession of the island to the United Kingdom in 1763.
5. The Island Of Martinique
Martinique is a French Caribbean island located between the islands of Dominica and Santa Lucia.
It is currently a French overseas department (DOM) this means it is a part of (like the canary islands or the Balearic Islands in Spain), but located in a territory outside the European continent.
French is the official language while Creole is popularly used by local inhabitants.
6. Island Of Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe is one of the counties formed by the French Antilles.
It is actually two butterfly-shaped islands connected by a narrow channel. The “wing” on the left is Grande-Terre, and the “wing” on the right is Basse-Terre.
The most sophisticated Grande-Terre boasts white sand beaches and rolling hills. The largest town on the island, Pointe-à-Pitre, is a European-style shopping town offering products with “made in France” labels, and savings of between 20 and 30 percent. The museums abound. The San Juan Perse Museum is located in colonial mansions. The Edgar Clerc archaeological museum informs visitors of the Indo-American ancestors of Guadalupe.
The official language is French but English is widely spoken.
7. Saint Martin
Saint Martin, officially named San Martín Collectivity and also known as the island of salt Is an overseas collectivity of France located in the Caribbean. It occupies the northern area of San Martin Island and other nearby islets, the largest of which is Tintamarre Island. It limits to the south with Sint Maarten, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This territory acquired its current status on the 22nd of February 2007. According to the Treaty of Lisbon, it is an outermost region of the European Union.
French is the most spoken language along with English in the North of the island. The French parts of Saint Martin include:
- Island Tintamarres
- Pinel Islets
- Petite Clef
- Crowl Rock
- Rocas de la pointe Lucas
- Roca de l’anse Marcel
- Cayes Vertes
- 80% of its French citizens have an African origin.
8. Maria Galante
Popularly called Gran Galette, because of its fairly rounded geographical shape, is home to a population of around 12,000 inhabitants, dating to the year 2000.
However, it is a population in constant decline. The decline of the people of this small island is based on the decline of the sugar economy in the previous years.
French is the official language while Creole is mostly spoken by the locals.
9. Islands Of Los Santos
Also known as Los Santos, has French as the official language while Creole is mostly spoken by the local.
It owes its name to Christopher Columbus who touched his mainland on the same day of the saints in the year 1493. It has a very poor population that by the year 2006 had only 2,868 inhabitants approximately in all its territory that extends in 12.8 square kilometers.
It was disputed between the French and the British and was commonly used as a military strategy point due to its geographical location.
10. Saint Barthelemy
This is an island I’m in the Caribbean sea which is located in the North of Guadeloupe.
The majority of the residents speak French and are of the first descendants of the first Norman and Breton settlers, although, everyone speaks English French is the official language.
11. La Deseada
Its population for the year 2006 had 1,595 inhabitants within its territory, which has a width of 2 kilometers and 11 kilometers in length, which gives a total of 20.64 square kilometers. Their land is not very fertile for any agricultural process and their drinking water is scarce and totally lacking, being supplied thanks to another island. French is also the official language of La Deseada.
Note that Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Islands of Los Santos, Maria Gallante and La Deseada are five islets dependent on Guadeloupe.
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Tag: French Speaking Countries in South America, North, and Central