Official Language

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The official language of a state is the language in which government business is conducted, as well as the language used in the legal system.

Often, smaller countries such as Estonia, which have a small number of native speakers relative to the number of migrant workers, institute an official language policy to protect their culture. Others, such as Belgium or Switzerland may have two or more official languages to reflect the multi-ethnic composition of their population. Sometimes, as in both Belgium and Switzerland, different parts of the country will have different official languages.

In places where the population is mixed or there are historical reasons for the use of one of the official languages, all the official languages will have equal status throughout that country or region's whole territory. Examples of this are Singapore, Hong Kong and South Africa. A further variant of the use of official languages may be found in the United Kingdom, where English is the official language on a national basis, but Welsh and Scottish Gaelic are official in Wales and parts of Scotland respectively. Similar situations can be found in Spain and some other countries.

The United States has no official language, however English is spoken by 82.1% of Americans. [1]