French is an official language in 41 countries, most of which form what is called La Francophonie, the community of French-speaking nations.
Originally spoken in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, today about 300 million people around the world speak French as either a native or a second language.
It is spoken as a first language by 51 million people in France and Corsica; in Canada by 7.2 million; in Belgium by 3.3 million; in Switzerland by 1.2 million; in Monaco by 17,000; in Italy by 100,000; and in the United States by nearly 2 million (primarily in Maine and Louisiana).
In sub-Saharan Africa, some 5 million people (in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, and Zaire) use French as their main international language.
Millions in Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia) - previous French colonies - also speak French.
In addition, French continues to be spoken as a second language by many people in countries located along the southern and eastern rim of the Mediterranean that were once French colonies or territories (notably Algeria, Morocco, and Lebanon).
Along with English, French is the most used language in the European Union and within the diplomatic world.
French as a foreign language is the second most frequently taught language in the world, after English.
French is the third most frequently used language on the internet.