What countries speak English?
English is a West Germanic language. It has the largest number of speakers worldwide and is the third most spoken native language, behind Mandarin and Spanish. 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 comprises countries with large communities of native English speakers. The outer circle comprises countries with small communities of native English speakers and widespread use of English as a second language. The expanding circle comprises 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 it is legally recognized as 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 majority of its residents' primary language. This is the case for nations like India and Pakistan.
India is the most populous nation with English as its official language, with 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 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 an estimated 330 million people. 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.