French is a Romance language spoken around the world by around 90 million people as first language, by 190 million as second language, and by about another 200 million people as an acquired tongue, with significant speakers in 54 countries.
Most native speakers of the language live in France, where the language originated. Most of the rest live in Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Francophone Africa, Luxembourg, and Monaco.
French is a descendant of the Latin language of the Roman Empire, as are national languages such as Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Romanian, and minority languages ranging from Catalan and Occitan to Neapolitan and many more.
Its development was also influenced by the native Celtic languages of Roman Gaul and by the Germanic 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 nations. It is an official language of all United Nations agencies and a large number of international organizations.
In addition, prior to the ascension of English in the early 20th century, French served as the preeminent language of diplomacy among European and colonial powers as well as a lingua franca among the educated classes of Europe.