The Celtic countries are a region in Western Europe and North Atlantic where Celtic languages and culture have survived. Celtic languages are a group of languages forming a branch of the Indo-European language family and descending from Proto-Celtic.
Celtic languages were spoken across most of Europe and in Asia Minor during the 1st millennium BC. Today, only a small region of the world in northwestern Europe and a few communities in other regions speak Celtic languages. There are currently four living Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and Breton. Cornish and Manx went extinct. All four languages are minority languages in their respective countries. Welsh is the only Celtic language that is not classified as endangered.
The six territories that are considered Celtic nations are known as the “Celtic fringe.” Each country has its own Celtic language.
The first of these countries is Wales, a southwest extension of the Island of Great Britain. Wales, or Cymru, its Celtic name, is part of the United Kingdom and Welsh and English are the official languages. Wales has a population of over 3 million people, 562,000 (19%) of whom claim they can speak Welsh.
Ireland is the second Celtic country, where Irish, also known as Gaelic, is spoken in addition to English. Ireland’s Celtic name is Éire. There are approximately 1.77 million Irish speakers in Ireland, in addition to 95,000 in the United Kingdom and 18,000 in the United States. Irish is a Goidelic Celtic language. Ireland is divided into the Republic of Ireland (Ireland), with a population of 4.8 million, and Northern Ireland with a population of 1.8 million.
Scotland, also known as Alba in Celtic, is the third Celtic country. Scotland is also part of the United Kingdom and spans the top third of the island of Great Britain. Scotland has a population of 5.43 million people, 92,400 of whom speak Scottish Gaelic. Scottish Gaelic is a Goidelic Celtic language, as Irish is.
Brittany is the fourth Celtic territory located in the western-most part of France, but it is not a country itself. Rather, Brittany is a province in France. Brittany has a population of 4.475 million with 206,000 being native speakers of Breton, a Brittonic Celtic language like Welsh. Brittany’s Celtic name is Breizh and is also known as Less Britain, Lesser Britain, or Little Britain, as opposed to Great Britain.
The fifth Celtic territory is Cornwall or Kernow in Celtic. Cornwall is a peninsula located in England’s southwest. Cornish is the Celtic language; however, it went extinct and there are no current native speakers. Due to revival efforts, there are 3,000 people who have at least some knowledge of the language. Cornish is the third Brittonic Celtic language along with Welsh and Breton.
The Isle of Man is the sixth Celtic territory, located in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland. The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown dependency. Manx, the Celtic language of the Isle of Man, is the third Goidelic Celtic language along with Irish and Scottish; however, it also went extinct as Cornish did. Due to revival efforts, there are an estimated 100 native speakers and 1,800 people who have some knowledge or skill in the language.
Six regions are currently considered part of the Celtic nations.
The Celtic nations include Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland, and Wales.