French represents the second most commonly taught foreign language across the world, second to English, according to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. French is spoken in 28 countries and, along with English, represents one of the world's two global languages. French is also an official working language of many international organizations, such as the International Red Cross, the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee.
French is a national language of several European countries, including Belgium, Monaco, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland. French also represents an official language of the European Union.
Many African countries include French as an official language, such as Djibouti, Comoros, Burundi, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. French is also an official language of Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Niger, Madagascar, the Republic of Congo, Mali, Senegal, Seychelles and Togo. Most of these countries were colonized by France in the 17th, 18th or 19th centuries. An estimated 92.6 million Africans speak French, which makes up nearly half of the French speakers in the world.
Canada lists French as an official language, along with English. The Canadian province of Quebec lists French as its sole official language. Nearly a 25 percent of Canadians speak French as their first language, although the French spoken in Canada differs from the French spoken in France. Haiti, located in the Caribbean, also counts French an official language. France established a settlement in Haiti in 1659.
Vanuatu, an archipelago in the South Pacific, lists French as an official language. France and Britain colonized the islands in the 18th century. France continues to provide funds for Francophone school instruction in Vanuatu.
Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at tolerance.org. She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.