According to Henry Hitchings new book Language Wars there are only eight nations which do not have an official primary language. These are: the UK, the USA (though 20 states now have one) Pakistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Costa Rica and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Why these countries?
Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea
Religious/linguistic/political divisions may explain the three African countries. The area that once formed Ethiopia, for example, has 84 native languages according to the Ethnologue.
Pakistan is a nation essentially created on religious grounds, also containing a number of competing communities. Urdu is the de facto official language, only this arrangement is not formalised as is the case with its close cousin Hindi in India.
In Bosnia there is little appetite for opening a linguistic battlefield for obvious reasons.
Costa Rica does not have the obvious political tensions that usually makes language contentious. It has historically been the most stable democracy in Latin America. But though Spanish dominates,native languages are still spoken in indigenous reservations. The most numerically important are: the Bribr, Maléku, Cabécar and Ngäbere languages.
Around 10.7% of Costa Rica's adult population also speaks Creole-English. Creole speakers live largely around the Caribbean coast.
And English is not the official language of the UK? Or the USA?
English has, of course, become the world's de facto second language. So the appearance of the two giants of Anglosphere: the UK and the USA on the list may seem puzzling. In both cases this can be seen as evidence of the strength & self confidence of the native language.
In the UK there is no written constitution but the longest tradition of unbroken parliamentary democracy in the world. There are native minority languages (Welsh, Scots Gaelic) and imported second ones. But English dominates everywhere outside a few relatively remote regions.
Until relatively recently the English language had similar preeminence in the USA. The challenge to this dominance by Spanish in some US states has now made language a more politically polarising issue. Moves towards bilingualism in some states (e.g. California) has lead to laws formalising English as the official language in others
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