World Map - Map of Europe - France

France

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France has a population of 60 million. The majority of the population understands and speaks French. It is the official language of the country, and it was first documented as an official language in 1539.

The restriction on the use of languages other than French was strongly enforced by the French government until the 1950s. There are eight minority languages, which are spoken in France. The list below is in descending order according to the number of speakers that each dialect has.

  • Occitan is spoken by at least two million people in southern France, in a little area in northern Spain (Val d'Aran in the northernmost part of Catalonia), and in a number of valleys in Piedmonte in northwest Italy (Valadas Occitanas). Most of the speakers in these regions are bilingual or multilingual.

  • Alsatian is a German language spoken by 1.5 million people in the Alsace region in France near the German border. It is closely related to Swiss German and other southern German dialects. The language is not standardized, and each speaker has a local dialect. Standard German is the language of education. Most of the Alsatian speakers (80-90%) are bilingual in Alsatian and French.

  • Breton is spoken by 500,000 people in the region of Brittany. That is one fifth of the population of the region. There is a strong Breton national movement demanding recognition of the Breton language in schools, media, and in the society in Brittany. Breton is a Celtic language, which belongs to the Britannic branch (often called P-Celtic) of the Celtic language family within the Indo-European language family. Its closest relative is Welsh.

  • Corsican is spoken by 300,000 people mainly in Corsica, but also by the Corsicans who live in other parts of France and abroad. It is a Romance language, which is a part of the Toscani group of Italian dialects. Corsican has been recognized as a separate language by the French government.

  • Catalan is spoken by 200,000 people in the department of Pyrenees Orientales. It is a Romance language

  • Flemish is spoken by 90,000 people in Westhoek in northwest France near the Belgian border. It is a Germanic language.

  • Basque is spoken by 80,000 people in southwest France (around Bayonne). They make up a tenth of the total Basque population, which is 730,000. The majority of the Basque speakers in France are bilingual in Basque and French.