English is an official language of almost 60 sovereign states, the most commonly spoken language in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand, and a widely spoken language in countries in the Caribbean, Africa, and South Asia. It is the third most common native language in the world, after Mandarin and Spanish. It is widely learned as a second language and is an official language of the United Nations, of the European Union, and of many other world and regional international organisations.
Countries with large communities of native speakers of English (the inner circle) include the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand, where the majority speaks English, and South Africa, where a significant minority speaks English. Estimates of the number of English speakers who are second language and foreign-language speakers vary greatly from 470 million to more than 1,000 million depending on how proficiency is defined.