What countries speak English?
English is a West Germanic language. It has the largest number of speakers around the world and is the third most spoken native language. English gained traction around the world during the 17th century due to the influence of the British Empire and the United States and English has become the leading language of international discourse.
Braj Kachru developed the three circles model to describe the spread of English and distinguish countries that speak English. In this model, the inner circle is made up of countries that have large communities of native English speakers. The outer circle is comprised of countries with small communities of native English speakers and widespread use of English as a second language. The expanding circle is comprised of countries where many people have learned or are learning English as a foreign language.
Many countries have English designated as the de jure official language, meaning that it is legally recognized to be the official language. In some cases, English may be the official language but may not be the primary language. This means that English can be used in business, education and official documents but may not be the primary language of the majority of its residents. This is the case of nations like India and Pakistan.
India is the most populous nation with English as its official language with a population of over 1 billion people. The smallest nation where English is an official language is Niue, which has a population of just 1,600 people.
There are also nations where English is a de facto national language, meaning that it exists in reality and is practiced, even though it is not officially recognized by law. For example, the United States technically has no official language at the federal level, even though English is the most commonly spoken language.
Of the nations where English is a de facto national language, the United States is the most populous with a population of over 318 million. There are four nations where English is the de facto language and the primary language. These include Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.