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French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the province of Quebec and the Acadia region in Canada, the Acadiana region of the U.S. state of Louisiana, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts of the world, the largest numbers of whom reside in Francophone Africa.

In Africa, French is most commonly spoken in Gabon (where 80% report fluency) Mauritius (78%), Algeria (75%), Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire (70%). 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.

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, can speak French, of whom 72 million are native 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.

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