Worldwide Distribution of English Speakers

by Bob Cunningham
 

The following table was compiled from information in the Encyclopaedia Britannica Book of the Year 1995:

               Number of Speakers                   Country


    English    English      English    English
     Mother    (Lingua     Bilingual    Creole
     Tongue    Franca)



  224,900,000 253,410,000                           United States
   56,830,000                                       United Kingdom
   17,700,000                696,000                Canada
   15,188,000  17,300,000                           Australia
    3,620,000                                       South Africa
    3,340,000                                       Ireland
    3,205,000                150,000                New Zealand
    1,190,000                            36,000     Trinidad and Tobago
      310,000  30,000,000                           India
      240,000                                       Zimbabwe
      132,000   1,890,000                           Hong Kong
      106,000                           160,000     Belize 
      100,000   6,000,000    220,000                Malaysia
      100,000                                       Spain
       87,000                                       Jersey
       85,000                                       Virgin Islands
       80,000                                       France
       70,000                                       Isle of Man
       70,000                                       Japan
       64,000                                       Guernsey
       64,000                                       Israel
       62,000                                       Bermuda
       54,000     144,000                           Guam
       32,000                                       Sweden
       28,000                           114,000     St. Lucia
       27,000                           237,000     Barbados
       26,000                                       Gibraltar
       23,000                                       Norway
       19,000                                       Puerto Rico
       18,000                                       Denmark
       15,000                                       Netherlands
                                                      Antilles
       10,000              1,820,000                Sri Lanka
       10,000                 99,000                Brunei
        8,000                                       Malta
        6,000                                       Aruba
        4,000                                       Luxembourg
        3,000                            19,000     Dominica
        2,200      41,900                           Northern Mariana Islands
        2,000      54,000                           American Samoa
        2,000                                       Macau
        2,000                                       Mauritius
        2,000                                       Monaco
        2,000                                       Seychelles
        1,000                                       Andorra
        1,000                            85,000     Western Samoa
          800      10,100                           Nauru
          500                                       Micronesia
                                         63,000     Antigua and Barbuda
                                        200,000     Bahamas
                3,100,000                           Bangladesh
                  580,000                           Botswana
                                         40,000     Colombia
                                         66,000     Costa Rica
                  160,000                           Fiji
                                          2,000     French Guiana
                                         92,000     Grenada
                                        572,000     Guyana
                                         11,000     Honduras
                                      2,350,000     Jamaica
                2,100,000                           Kenya
                  480,000             2,100,000     Liberia
                  490,000                           Malawi
                  130,000                           Namibia
                                         42,000     Nicaragua
               14,000,000            33,000,000     Nigeria
               15,000,000                           Pakistan
                                        362,000     Panama
                   60,000                           Papua New Guinea
               36,000,000                           Philippines
                  700,000             4,400,000     Sierra Leone
                1,097,000                           Singapore
                                         42,000     St. Kitts and Nevis
                                        109,000     St. Vincent and the
                                                      Grenadines
                  800,000                           Tanzania
                             280,000                Tunisia
                  180,000                           Uganda
                  800,000                           Zambia

For countries having a "post-creole continuum" ranging from Creole proper to standard English, the entire continuum is assigned to the Creole column. The yearbook lists the 1,190,000 speakers in Trinidad and Tobago as speaking "Trinidad English", not standard English.

According to this information, the number of mother-tongue English speakers in the world (not counting those in Trinidad and Tobago) is 326,652,000. 69% of these live in the United States.

The yearbook says: "No systematic attempt has been made to account for populations that may legitimately be described as bilingual, unless the country itself collects data on that basis". This explains, why, for example, no "English bilingual" speakers are listed for the United Kingdom, even though many native speakers of Welsh and Gaelic speak English fluently. The yearbook's full entry for the U.K. is:

  English       56,830,000 
  Scots-Gaelic      80,000 
  Welsh            560,000 
  Other            950,000 

Explaining "English (Lingua Franca)", the yearbook says: "Where a nonindigenous official or excolonial language constitutes a lingua franca of the country [...], speakers of the language as a second tongue are shown [...], even though very few may speak it as a mother tongue."