|Spoken in||see below|
|Native speakers||native speakers: 70-115 million total, (both native and second language) speakers: 265 million-270 million|
|Writing system||Latin alphabet (French variant)|
|Official language in||
Numerous international organisations
|Regulated by||Académie française (French Academy)|
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French (français, IPA: [f??~s?]) is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, French-speaking Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts of the world, the largest numbers of which reside in Francophone Africa. In Africa, French is most commonly spoken in Gabon (where 80% reports fluency) Mauritius (78%), Algeria (75%) and Côte d'Ivoire (70%). French is estimated as having between 70 million and 110 million native speakers and 190 million second language speakers. French is the second-most studied foreign language in the world, after English.
French is a descendant of the spoken Latin language of the Roman Empire, as are languages such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian, Sardinian and Catalan. Its closest relatives however are the other langues d'oïl and French-based creole languages. Its development was also influenced by the native Celtic languages of Roman Gaul and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders.
It is an official language in 29 countries, most of which form what is called, in French, La Francophonie, the community of French-speaking countries. It is an official language of all United Nations agencies and a large number of international organizations. According to the European Union, 129 million, or twenty-six percent of the Union's total population speak French, of whom 65 million are native speakers and 69 million are second-language or foreign language speakers, thus making French the third language in the European Union that people state they are most able to speak, after English and German. Twenty-percent of non-Francophone Europeans know how to speak French, totaling roughly 145.6 million people in Europe, alone.
From the 17th century to the mid-20th century, French served as the pre-eminent international language of diplomacy and international affairs, as well as a lingua franca among the educated classes of Europe. The dominant position of the French language has only recently been overshadowed by English. As a result of extensive colonial ambitions of France and Belgium (at that time governed by a French-speaking elite), between the 17th and 20th centuries, French was introduced to the Americas, Africa, Polynesia, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean.
According to a demographic projection led by the Université Laval and the Réseau Démographie de l'Agence universitaire de la francophonie, French will be represented by approximately 500 million people in 2025 and by 650 million people, or approximately seven-percent of the world's population in 2050.