English has become the global language of trade and commerce over the last century. For most countries, it is the primary choice for people wanting to learn a second language. It is also the primary languages used in many countries, typically those that used to be British colonies. Here is a list of the top 10 English speaking countries by population based on the best estimates available from different countries.
The last country to make this list of top 10 English speaking countries is what people in America often jokingly refer to as its 51st state, Canada. 25.2 million speak English here, and Canada is the largest country by land area where English is a primary language. This represents only 85% of the population, as French is the most commonly spoken language in the province of Quebec.
Even though Arabic is the primary language of Egypt, there are 28.1 million English speakers in the country. This represents about 35% of the population.
This is a country that would probably surprise a lot of people as not many people think of it as an English speaking country. And largely, it is not with 38 different languages commonly spoken, the most prevalent being Bengali. Only 18% of the population speaks English. However due to the very large population here, that small percentage works out to 29.4 million English speakers.
46.3 million Germans speak English in addition to their primary language of German. This represents a majority, or 56%, of the population. Given a good education system and its position on the European continent, it is not uncommon for Germans to know many languages.
6. United Kingdom
A total of 59.6 million people speak English in the UK. This is where the language originated so one would expect the UK to be on this list. It is also not surprising that the highest percentage of people in the country speak English compared to other nations in the top 10.
There are 76.2 million people who speak English in the Philippines. There are 120 to 175 different languages spoken here, many being native tribal languages. Spanish was the official language for a good period of time going back to the Spanish occupation. However, after the United States occupied the country after World War II, English did begin to replace Spanish. A dialogue of one of the native languages of Tagalog was later declared a co-primary language along with English. This language later became known as Filipino. As a result, the total number of English speakers is quite high at 78%.
There are 79.0 million speakers of English in the African country of Nigeria. Like the Philippines, hundreds of languages are spoken here. Due to the wide variety of languages used, English happened to be chosen as the official language reflecting its occupation by the British. However many of the native languages dominate outside the major population centers. As a result, only 53% of the people actually speak English. This might even be too many for the English speakers around the world who constantly receive emails from this country, as it has earned a dubious reputation for financial fraud.
There are 88.7 million speakers of English in Pakistan. English is also an official language of Pakistan along side its national language of Urdu. As a result 49% of the people in Pakistan are conversant in English which reflects its past in being a colony of the British when it was considered part of India. There are also a lot of different regional languages spoken throughout the country. Curiously enough, Urdu is not the most common language used in the country, and is only spoken by about 8% of the population. Punjabi actually is the most common language spoken nationwide, with roughly 60% of the country speaking it or some closely related dialect.
A total of 125.2 million people in India speak English. India is a large country with many different language families and even more separate languages. Hindi is the official language of the country, while English is a secondary official language. Only 12% of the Indian population speaks English, by far the lowest percentage on this list. However, since India’s population is close to a billion people, this low percentage vaults the country to number two on the list. There is no doubt that many Americans on customer support lines can vouch for the fact that there are many English speakers in this country.
1. United States of America
Not surprisingly, the USA is at number 1 on the list of top 10 English speaking countries is the USA. 267.4 million people speak English here, representing 95% of the population. The vernacular of American English has come to dominate much of the world outside of Europe due to the pervasive influence of American entertainment globally.