Former French Colonies UA-4944458-2

Former French Colonies

As a consequence of French colonialism there is a significant number of countries and regions that still use French as an official or administrative language.

In North America, the French-speaking minority makes up 82% of the province of Québec and 30% of the population of New Brunswick. Quebec was a French colony until 1763 when France formally ceded Canada to the British in the Treaty of Paris. In addition, there are French-speaking communities in Louisiana (USA), which was originally part of New France, where many people speak either Cajun French or Louisiana Creole French. The Cajuns (derived from the word “Acadian”) are a group of French-speaking exiles that were expelled by the British from Nova Scotia in the Great Expulsion that took place between 1755 and 1763.

In the former French colony of Haiti, French, along with Haitian Creole, is the official language.

On the islands of the Indian Ocean, Indochina (in particular in Vietnam) there is a significant French speaking population (about 375,000 people). With about 800,000 French speakers, Lebanon is the Asian country that features the largest French speaking community.

French is widely spoken in the former French colonies in Africa. In the Maghreb states (Morocco, Mauritania Tunisia, Algeria) about 33 million people speak French. In Algeria, which was part of the French colonial empire for 30 years, French is still widely spoken, although the native language of most people now is Arab. French is used as the language of education, administration, media, and business.

In Morocco and Tunisia, French is the language used for business and commerce, education, media and administration. In addition, French is considered the language of the upper class in Tunisia.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, about 40 million people speak French. Most of the former French colonies in Africa are part of the Francophonie, and French is the official language or one of the official languages in Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Gabon, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, and Togo.

The African countries with the largest French speaking populations include Congo, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Morocco, and Cameroon. In most of the Sub-Saharan countries, French is used as language of business and commerce, education, administration, and media.

Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, ranks among the largest French-speaking cities in the world. About 7 million Francophones live in this city.