The Francophonie (in French, La Francophonie), also called the OIF (Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie), is an international organisation consisting of 57 member states and governments, three associate members and twenty observers.
Originally, La Francophonie was a group of countries ...
- where French is the first (mother) or customary language,
- where a significant proportion of the population speak French or
- where there is a notable affiliation with French culture.
La Francophonie was created in 1970 as a forum where former colonisers (France and Belgium) and weatlhy Francophone countries (Canada and Switzerland) could meet and give aid to poorer countries, and most importantly, to promote the spread of the French language and values. The purpose has now been expanded to cover cooperation among members in the fields of culture, science, economy, justice, and peace. And it now includes member countries with no ties to French language or culture.
The current Secretary General of the Francophonie is Michaëlle Jean, the ex-Governor General of Canada.
There are an estimated 175 million French speakers in the world, but members of la Francophonie have a combined population of about 600 million people.