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178 countries recognize an official language, 101 of them recognizing more than one. The government of Italy made Italian official only in 1999, and some nations (such as the United States, Mexico, Uruguay and Australia) have never declared de jure official languages at the national level. Other nations have declared non-indigenous official languages.
Many of the world's constitutions mention one or more official or national languages. Some countries use the official language designation to empower indigenous groups by giving them access to the government in their native languages. In countries that do not formally designate an official language, a de facto national language usually evolves. English is the most common official language, with recognized status in 51 countries. Arabic, French, and Spanish are also widely recognized.
An official language that is also an indigenous language is called endoglossic, one that is not indigenous is exoglossic. An instance is Nigeria which has three endoglossic official languages. By this, the country aims to protect the indigenous languages although at the same time recognising the English language as its lingua franca. In spatial terms, indigenous (endoglossic) languages are mostly employed in the function of official (state) languages in Eurasia, while mainly non-indigenous (exoglossic) imperial (European) languages fulfill this function in most of the "Rest of the World" (that is, in Africa, the Americas, Australia and Oceania). Ethiopia, Somalia, South Africa, North African countries, Greenland, Tanzania, Samoa and Paraguay are among the exceptions to this tendency.