Are you excited to take your first international trip? But do you worry about not being able to communicate with the locals? Here is a list of the top 43 countries, and a couple of extras at the end, that you may want to visit first. These are countries, starting with the highest percentage (100%) down to around 70%, that have local populations of English speakers.
English Speaking Countries
- Gibraltar 100%
- Isle of Man
- Republic of Ireland
- Marshall Islands
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- U.S. Virgin Islands
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- British Virgin Islands
- Northern Mariana Islands
- American Samoa
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Cayman Islands
- Finland 70%
Two counties not included are Switzerland and Hong Kong. In Switzerland, I have had no problem finding locals that speak English. I spent several weeks in Basel and visited several other places like Lake Lucerne. Switzerland is a bit expensive but language was never a problem.
Hong Kong was hit and miss. I believe about half the population knows English, but Cantonese and Mandarin are the primary languages. Again in tourist areas, we had no problem finding English-speaking locals.
If you are in a foreign country and starting to feel uneasy or frustrated stay in tourist areas. Large hotels and American restaurants can also be safe havens. Always be sure to have the address of where you are staying with you!
Greenland, I could not get a definitive percentage of the population that speaks English, but several websites say that English is taught in addition to their native language and Dutch. If you have been there please let me know if finding English speakers was easy or not.
One more point – when we have been in countries where it is more difficult to find someone that speaks English the salespeople will find a way to talk to you. Many use calculators to show you the price if you are looking to buy something. Numbers are pretty universal so have paper and pen ready to write on.
There are many apps now that are actually helpful. Google translate I used a lot when I was in places like grocery stores or gas stations or… It has saved me from buying or doing the wrong thing more than once.
New “learn a language” programs are coming out that I do think are helpful. I beta tested one the other day and found it fun and it did feel like, if I purchased the program, I could have learned to speak French – at least enough to get by.
I did not include the United States, assuming that you live in the US and are looking for international locations. But if you live outside the US please include it in the top English speaking destinations.
Before you go to any foreign country I do recommend learning some basic words like yes, no, thank you, excuse me, do you speak English (in the countries native language) and please. I also have food allergies so I learn the word “cheese” in every language I will be encountering!
Okay, have you made your list yet? Print this out and check off the countries that appeal to you. Some of them I even looked up because I didn’t know where they were. It is fun to map out a set of places you would love to visit. Enjoy your travels!
Footnote - Information was compiled from Wikipedia, Google searches and country websites.
Photos by Priscilla du Preez (Scrabble), Ian (Denmark map), and Kyle Glenn (Globe).