List of countries where Arabic is an official language

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Nations in which Arabic is an official language (de facto or de jure). Arabic in countries with more than 50% Arabic-speakers is considered a majority language, otherwise it is a minority language.
  Official as majority language
  Official as minority language
  Co-official as majority language
  Co-official as minority language
  Not official as minority language

Arabic and its different dialects are spoken by around 422 million speakers (native and non-native) in the Arab world as well as in the Arab diaspora making it one of the five most spoken languages in the world. Currently, 22 countries are member states of the Arab League (as well as 5 countries were granted an observer status) which was founded in Cairo in 1945. Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage comprising 30 modern varieties, including its standard form [1].

Arabic is the lingua franca of people who live in countries of the Arab world as well as of Arabs who live in the diaspora, particularly in Latin America (especially Brazil and Argentina) or Western Europe (like France, Spain, Germany or Italy).

Cypriot Arabic is an official minority language in the EU member state Cyprus and is the only European variety of Arabic within the Arabic macrolanguage [2]. Maltese is the only fully separate standardized language to have originated from an Arabic dialect (the extinct Sicilian Arabic dialect), with independent literary norms - it has its own language code (ml/mlt) that is distinct from that used for the Arabic macrolanguage (ar/ara) and has no diglossic relationship with Standard Arabic or Classical Arabic.[3]. It is one of the official languages of the EU.

Countries with Arabic as an official language[edit]

As of 2016, there are 26 independent nations where Arabic is an official language, the following is a list of sovereign states and territories where Arabic is an official or de facto official language.

Countries where Arabic is an official language
No Country Population Notes No. of Arabic Speakers[4] % of Arabic Speakers[5] Member state of
Arab League
1.  Algeria 41,701,000 Co-official language, along with Berber 40,100,000 80.00 Yes
2.  Bahrain 1,343,000 Official language 690,302 81.4 Yes
3.  Chad 10,329,208 Co-official language, along with French 1,320,000 1.81 No
4.  Comoros 798,000 Co-official language, along with Comorian and French Yes
5.  Djibouti 810,179 Co-official language, along with French 97,900 1.32 Yes
6.  Egypt 90,000,000 Official language 82,449,200 93.18 Yes
7.  Eritrea 6,380,803 Co-official language, along with Tigrinya and English 249,700 3.83 Observer status
8.  Iraq 36,004,552 Co-official language, along with Kurdish 22,908,120 85.81 Yes
9.  Israel a 8,238,300 Co-official language, along with Hebrew 2,039,000 24.82 No
10.  Jordan 6,655,000 Official language 5,083,300 96.93 Yes
11.  Kuwait 2,789,000 Official language 1,735,000 82.21 Yes
12.  Lebanon 4,965,914 Official language 4,180,000 91.44 Yes
13.  Libya 6,244,174 Official language 4,526,000 72.09 Yes e
14.  Mauritania 3,359,185 Official language 3,140,000 88.78 Yes
15.  Morocco 35,250,000 Co-official language, along with Berber 25,003,930 74.29 Yes
16.  Oman 4,055,418 Official language 2,518,816 88.6 Yes
17.  Palestine b 4,484,000 Official language in the Palestinian territories c 1,610,000 37.49 Yes
18.  Qatar 2,155,446 Official language 1,215,900 75.39 Yes
19.  Saudi Arabia 30,770,375 Official language 27,178,770 95.62 Yes
20.  Somalia 10,428,043 Co-official language, along with Somali 3,788,000 31.26 Yes
21.  Sudan 40,235,000 Co-official language, along with English 28,164,500 70.00 Yes
22.  Syria d 20,956,000 Official language 17,951,639 91.71 Yes f
23.  Tanzania
( Zanzibar)
1,303,569 Co-official language, along with Kiswahili and English No
24.  Tunisia 10,982,754 Official language 10,800,500 98.34 Yes
25.  United Arab Emirates 9,346,129 Official language 3,607,600 39.71 Yes
26.  Yemen 23,833,000 Official language 14,671,000 54.68 Yes g
a. Out of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 161 member states currently recognize the State of Israel.

b. Out of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 136 member states currently recognize the State of Palestine.
c. The Palestinian territories (also called Israeli-occupied territories) are currently occupied by Israel but legally don`t belong to the state of Israel according to the Supreme Court of Israel and the International Court of Justice of the United Nations (UN).
d. The Syrian National Coalition is partially recognized as the sole legitimate government of the state Syrian Arab Republic.
e. Libya's seat is taken by the House of Representatives (Libya) (which is disputed by the Muslim Brotherhood-led General National Congress (2014) and Government of National Accord).
f. Syria's seat currently occupied by the Syrian National Coalition,[6] while Ba'athist Syrian Arab Republic suspended on 16 November 2011.[7][8]
g. Yemen's seat is taken by the Cabinet of Yemen (which is disputed by the Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee).

Countries with Arabic as a national language or an official minority language[edit]

As of 2016, there are 6 independent nations where Arabic is a national language or an official minority language, but not primary language, the following is a list of sovereign states and territories where Arabic is a national language or an official minority language.

Dispersion of native Arabic speakers as the majority (green) or minority (chartreuse) population
Countries where Arabic is a national language or an official minority language
No Country Population National language or Minority language Region
1.  Cyprus 1,141,166 Minority language Asia
2.  Iran 79,926,270 Minority language Asia
3.  Mali 14,517,176 National language Africa
4.  Niger 18,638,600 National language Africa
5.  Senegal 14,320,055 National language Africa
6.  Turkey 79,814,871 Minority language Asia

Cyprus[edit]

Cypriot Arabic (alongside Armenian) is one of the two recognized minority languages of Cyprus, since 2008.[9] It is spoken by the Maronite community, which is a minority in Cyprus especially in the cities Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca.

Cypriot Arabic (also known as Cypriot Maronite Arabic) is taught at the Elementary School of St. Maron, which is located in Anthoupolis southern of Nicosia, Cyprus.[10]

Iran[edit]

Arabic is a recognized minority language of Iran; in addition, the constitution recognizes the Arabic language as the language of Islam, giving it a formal status as the language of religion, and regulates its spreading within the Iranian national curriculum. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Arabic (as the language of Quran) became mandatory for pupils in Iran. Arabic courses are mandatory starting from 6th year of schooling (1st year of Middle School) until the 11th year (penultimate year of High School).

In 2008, the public university Payame Noor University declared that Arabic will be the "second language" of the university, and that all its services will be offered in Arabic, concurrent with Persian.[11]

The local dialects of Arabic spoken by Arab minorities in Iran (like Ahwazi Arabs, Khamseh Arabs, Marsh Arabs as well as Arabs in Khorasan) are Khuzestani Arabic and Mesopotamian Arabic, (also known as Iraqi Arabic) mainly in Khuzestan Province as well as Khorasani Arabic especially in Khorasan Province.

There are also several TV channels in Arabic language broadcasting from Iran, namely, Al-Alam, Al-Kawthar TV as well as IFilm. Currently, the sole newspaper in Arabic language published in Iran is Kayhan Al Arabi out of 23 Persian dailies and three English dailies newspapers in Iran.

Mali[edit]

Arabic is one of the recognized national languages in Mali. Hassaniya Arabic (a variety of Maghrebi Arabic) is spoken by a minority in Mali especially by the Azawagh Arabs (also known as nomadic Moors) nomadic ethnic Arab-ancestry tribes who are settling mainly in the area of Azawagh which is a dry basin covering what is today northwestern Niger, as well as parts of northeastern Mali and southern Algeria.[12]

Niger[edit]

Arabic is one of the recognized national languages in Niger. Arabic is spoken by a minority in Niger especially by the Diffa Arabs (also known as Mahamid Arabs) an Arab nomadic tribespeople who is living in eastern Niger, mostly in the Diffa Region.

Senegal[edit]

Arabic is one of the recognized national languages in Senegal. Hassaniya Arabic is spoken by a minority in Senegal.[13]

Turkey[edit]

There is an Arab minority in Turkey who speak Arabic as their native language. Therefore, Arabic is a recognized minority language in Turkey.

In 2015, the Turkey’s Ministry of Education announced that as of the 2016-17 academic year, Arabic language courses (as a second language) will be offered to students in elementary school starting in second grade, the Arabic courses will be offered as an elective language course like German, French and English which are already being offered to elementary school students for a long time. According to a prepared curriculum, second and third graders will start learning the Arabic language by listening-comprehension and speaking, while introduction to writing will join these skills in fourth grade and after fifth grade students will start learning the language in all its four basic skills.[14][15]

The national public broadcaster of Turkey the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (also known as TRT) broadcasts TRT Al Arabiya a 24 hours a day TV channel in Arabic language (launched in April 2010).

Countries where Arabic has a special status according to the constitution[edit]

As of 2016, there were 2 independent nations where Arabic had a special status according to the constitution, the following is a list of sovereign states and territories where Arabic had a special status according to the constitution.

Countries where Arabic has a special status according to the constitution
No Name Population Official recognized
language
Region
1.  Pakistan 212,742,631 Arabic a Asia
2.  Philippines 100,981,437 Arabic b Asia
a. ^ The constitution of Pakistan states in Article 31 No. 2 that "The State shall endeavour, as respects the Muslims of Pakistan (a) to make the teaching of the Holy Quran and Islamiat compulsory, to encourage and facilitate the learning of Arabic language ..."[16]

b. ^ The 1987 Philippine constitution specifies "Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis."[17]

Pakistan[edit]

The Arabic language is mentioned in the constitution of Pakistan, it states in Article 31 No. 2 that "The State shall endeavour, as respects the Muslims of Pakistan (a) to make the teaching of the Holy Quran and Islamiat compulsory, to encourage and facilitate the learning of Arabic language ..."[18]

Philippines[edit]

The Arabic language is mentioned in the Philippine constitution of 1986. It specifies that "Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis."[17]

Arabic is mainly used by some Filipino Muslims in both a liturgical and instructional capacity since the arrival of Islam and establishment of several Sultanates (like Sultanate of Maguindanao, Sultanate of Sulu and Sultanate of Ranaw) in the present-day state Philippines. Along with Malay, Arabic was the lingua franca of the Malay Archipelago among Muslim traders and the Malay aristocracy in the history. Arabic is taught for free and is promoted in some Islamic centres predominantly in the southernmost parts of Philippines.

Non-sovereign entities where Arabic is an official language[edit]

As of 2016, there are 9 non-sovereign entities where Arabic is an official language, the following is a list of non-sovereign entities and autonomous regions as well as territories where Arabic is an official or de facto official language.

Non-sovereign entities and territories where Arabic is an official or de facto official language
No Name Population Notes Region
1.  Azawad 1,300,000 Co-official language, along with Tuareg Africa
2.  Iraqi Kurdistan 5,300,000 Co-official language, along with Kurdish Asia
3.  Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant 4,800,000 Official language Asia
4.  Khatumo 1,000,000 Co-official language, along with Somali Africa
5.  Puntland 4,280,000 Co-official language, along with Somali Africa
6.  Rojava (also called Democratic Federation of Northern Syria) 4,600,000 Co-official language, along with Kurdish and Syriac Asia
7.  Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic 502,585 Co-official language, along with Spanish Africa
8.  Somaliland 4,500,000 Co-official language, along with Somali Africa
9.  Syrian opposition a 3,500,000 Official language Asia
a. The Syrian National Coalition is partially recognized as the sole legitimate government of the state Syrian Arab Republic.

History[edit]

The early Muslim conquests (Arabic: الفتوحات الإسلامية‎, al-Futūḥāt al-Islāmiyya) and the following Expansion of Islam (Arabic: انتشار الإسلام‎, Intishar al-Islām) led to the expansion of the Arabic language in Northern Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, the Caucasus, Western Asia, Central Asia and South Asia. Along with the religion of Islam, the Arabic language, Arabic number system and Arab customs spread throughout the entire Arab caliphate, the caliphs of the Arab dynasty established the first schools inside the empire which taught Arabic language and Islamic studies for all pupils in all areas within the caliphate. The result was (in those areas which belonged to the Arab empire) the creation of the society that was mostly Arabic-speaking because of the assimilation of native inhabitants.

The expansion of the first Caliphates:
  Expansion under Islamic prophet Muhammad,
622–632 AD/ 1-11 AH
  Expansion during the Rashidun Caliphate,
632–661 AD/ 11-40 AH
  Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate,
661–750 AD/ 40-129 AH

During the period of the Umayyad Caliphate, the 5th Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik established Arabic instead of the local languages as the sole official state language of government across the entire caliphate.[19]

In the history, Andalusian Arabic was the official language in Spain and Portugal, formerly Al-Andalus for more than 700 years until the fall of the last Islamic state in Iberia at Granada in 1492. Siculo-Arabic (or Sicilian Arabic) was a spoken language on the islands of Sicily and neighbouring Malta (at that time Emirate of Sicily) between the end of the ninth century and the end of the twelfth century. Furthermore, a form of Arabic was spoken on the Mediterranean island of Crete (in those days Emirate of Crete) from the late 820s (c. 824 or 827/828) until the Byzantine reconquest in 961.

While the Abbasid Caliphate originally gained power by exploiting the social inequalities against non-Arabs in the Umayyad Empire, during Abbasid rule the empire rapidly was Arabized. As knowledge was shared in the Arabic language throughout the empire, people of different nationalities and religions began gradually to speak Arabic in their everyday lives. Resources from other languages began to be translated into Arabic, and a unique Islamic identity began to form that fused previous cultures with Arab culture, creating a level of civilization and knowledge that was considered a marvel in Europe and the Western world.[20]

The Arabic language remained the lingua franca of high culture under the Fatimids (909–1171), Spanish Umayyads (856–1031) in the Iberian Peninsula, and later Muslim dynasties in North Africa and Spain and of the Mamluks (125–1517) in Egypt and Syria-Palestine.[21]

Unter the rule of Ya'qub (the founder of the Saffarid dynasty) the Persian language was introduced and replaced the Arabic language as the official language of the empire which comprises nowadays the modern states Iran, Afghanistan as well as parts of Pakistan, Tajikestan and Uzbekistan.

Arabic (alongside English) was an official language in South Sudan from 1863 (these days a part of Egypt Eyalet) until 2011 (that time the independent state Republic of South Sudan), when the former government canceled Arabic as an official language. Since 2011 English is the sole official language of South Sudan, the Arabic dialect Juba Arabic is still the lingua franca of the people in South Sudan.

Territories where Arabic was an official or de facto official language in the history and later replaced or canceled[edit]

There were several territories (which later became independent states) where Arabic was an official or de facto official language in the history and where the Arabic language has been replaced by other languages or just canceled, the following is a list of territories (which later became independent states) where Arabic was an official or de facto official language in the history.

Territories where Arabic was an official or de facto official language in the history and later replaced or canceled
No Current country Current
official language
Current
spoken language
In the history
belong to
In the history
official language
In the history
spoken language
Period
of time
Region
1.  Afghanistan Pashto, Dari Pashto, Dari, various others Umayyad Caliphate Arabic Pashto, Dari, Uzbek, Turkmen, Central Asian Arabic 661-750 Asia
2.  Armenia Armenian Armenian, various others Umayyad Caliphate Arabic Arabic, Armenian 661-750 Asia
3.  Azerbaijan Azeri Azeri, various others Umayyad Caliphate Arabic Arabic, Azeri 661-750 Asia
4.  Cyprus Greek, Co-official language, along with Turkish Greek, Turkish, various others Umayyad Caliphate Arabic Siculo-Arabic 661-750 Asia
5.  Georgia (country) Georgian Georgian Umayyad Caliphate Arabic Arabic, Georgian 661-750 Asia
6.  Greece Greek Greek Emirate of Crete Arabic Arabic, Greek, various others 824–961 Europe
7.  Iran Persian Persian Umayyad Caliphate Arabic Arabic, Persian 661-750 Asia
8.  Italy, (Sicily) Italian Italian, various others Emirate of Sicily Arabic Siculo-Arabic, Byzantine Greek, Vulgar Latin 831–1091 Europe
9.  Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyz Kyrgyz, Uzbek Umayyad Caliphate Arabic Central Asian Arabic, Kyrgyz 661-750 Asia
10.  Malta Maltese, Co-official language, along with English Maltese, English, various others Emirate of Sicily Arabic Siculo-Arabic, Byzantine Greek, Vulgar Latin 831–1091 Europe
11.  Pakistan Urdu, Co-official language, along with English Urdu, various others Umayyad Caliphate Arabic Urdu, Central Asian Arabic 661-750 Asia
12.  Portugal Portuguese Portuguese, various others Umayyad Caliphate Arabic Andalusian Arabic, Mozarabic, Medieval Hebrew 711-1139 Europe
13.  Spain Spanish Spanish, various others Umayyad Caliphate Arabic Andalusian Arabic, Mozarabic, Medieval Hebrew 711-1492 Europe
14.  South Sudan English Juba Arabic, various others Egypt Eyalet Arabic Juba Arabic 1863-2011 Africa
15.  Tajikistan Tajik Tajik Umayyad Caliphate Arabic Central Asian Arabic, Tajik 661-750 Asia
16.  Turkey Turkish Turkish, various others Umayyad Caliphate Arabic North Mesopotamian Arabic 661-750 Asia
17.  Turkmenistan Turkmen Turkmen Umayyad Caliphate Arabic Central Asian Arabic, Turkmen 661-750 Asia
18.  Uzbekistan Uzbek Uzbek Umayyad Caliphate Arabic Central Asian Arabic, Uzbek 661-750 Asia

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: ara". 
  2. ^ "Documentation for ISO 639 identifier: ara". 
  3. ^ Robert D Hoberman (2007). Morphologies of Asia and Africa , Alan S. Kaye (Ed.), Chapter 13: Maltese Morphology. Eisenbrown. Maltese is the chief exception: Classical or Standard Arabic is irrelevant in the Maltese linguistic community and there is no diglossia. 
  4. ^ Data taken from https://www.ethnologue.com/ Retrieved 21/03/2016
  5. ^ Used data taken from https://www.ethnologue.com/ and country population to get percentage. Retrieved 21/03/2016
  6. ^ "Syrian president slams Arab League for granting seat to opposition". Xinhua News Agency. 2013-04-06. Retrieved 6 June 2017. 
  7. ^ "Regime backers express anger at other nations after Arab League suspends Syria". cnn.com. CNN. 2011-11-13. Retrieved 6 June 2017. 
  8. ^ "Presentation of the Arab League". Arableagueonline.org. 2012-09-13. Retrieved 6 June 2017. 
  9. ^ "Implementation of the Charter in Cyprus". Database for the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Public Foundation for European Comparative Minority Research. Archived from the original on 24 October 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2017. 
  10. ^ Maronite Community of Cyprus: St Maron Elementary School, 11 December 2013, Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  11. ^ عربی دومین زبان دانشگاه پیام نور شد (in Persian). Radiozamaaneh.com. Retrieved 30 December 2017. 
  12. ^ Paris (1995): p. 250.
  13. ^ Ethnologue: Ethnologue Languages of the World – Senegal - Languages, Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  14. ^ Al-Monitor: Turks divided over plans to introduce Arabic-language teaching, 2 November 2015, Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  15. ^ Hürriyet Daily News: Arabic to be offered as second language in Turkish elementary schools, 23 October 2015, Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  16. ^ Constitution of Pakistan: Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 - Article: 31 Islamic way of life , 1973, retrieved 13 June 2018
  17. ^ a b Joselito Guianan Chan; Managing Partner. "1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Article XIV, Section 7". Chan Robles & Associates Law Firm. Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  18. ^ Constitution of Pakistan: Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 - Article: 31 Islamic way of life , 1973, retrieved 13 June 2018
  19. ^ "'Abd al-Malik". Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, Illinois: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2010. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8. 
  20. ^ Ochsenwald & Fisher 2004, p. 69
  21. ^ Hayrettin Yücesoy (2015) “Language of Empire: Politics of Arabic and Persian in the Abbasid World, p. 388.
Bibliography

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]