English-Speaking Countries, Ranked
Several countries list English as one of their official languages, but only 14 happen to speak it primarily.
These countries are scattered around the world, thanks to the British Empire colonizing as much land as it could. And while all these countries have unique attributes, they’re not all equal in beauty, attractions and, perhaps most importantly, quality of the food.
In other words, some are way more fun to visit than others. Here are all 14 English-speaking countries, ranked from least to most interesting.
Best known for: White-sand beaches
Bottom Line: Bahamas
Look, there is no denying that the Bahamas are beautiful. The collection of islands just off the coast of Florida has long been a favored Caribbean getaway. There are miles and miles of white-sand beaches, great snorkeling spots and sunny weather.
But the country’s allure is also its downfall. Much of the country is focused solely on tourism, being plagued by gigantic and generic all-inclusive resorts and, worse, cruise ships of monstrous proportions.
You can find everything the Bahamas has in other Caribbean islands that have yet to become zombified by overtourism.
13. Saint Kitts and Nevis
Best known for: Beaches, luxury resorts
Bottom Line: Saint Kitts and Nevis
Unlike the Bahamas, Saint Kitts and Nevis are often overlooked by travelers because it's more of a luxury destination. Its exclusivity means that you definitely won’t run into the horrible masses you’ll encounter in other Caribbean countries. But it also means you probably can’t afford to vacation here.
The twin islands certainly have their looks going for them, especially as jungle-covered hills roll softly into the ocean. Fortunately, you’ll find similar landscapes in nearby countries without having to take out a second mortgage on your house to be able to go.
Population: 201 million
Best known for: Nollywood, petroleum
Bottom Line: Nigeria
Nigeria is a country that does everything big. It has the largest population of Black citizens in any country on Earth, it has the second largest movie industry in the world, and it is considered the continent’s major tech hub. Its largest city, Lagos, is the 18th largest in the world, with a metropolitan population of 21 million people.
If you like big cities, by all means, visit Lagos. Just expect a ton of air pollution, horrible traffic and headache-inducing noise levels — which big city isn’t cursed with these issues? We’d recommend you skip the cities, and head to the country’s national parks, like Gashaka-Gumti National Park, many of which have impressively healthy elephant populations.
Then again, there are other countries in Africa that have larger and more diverse national parks.
Best known for: Belize Barrier Reef, Mayan Ruins
Bottom Line: Belize
The small Central American country of Belize stands out as the English-speaker in a region where Spanish dominates. It also has the second largest barrier reef in the world, dense jungles that hide Mayan ruins and decent beaches.
But Belize doesn’t earn a higher spot on this list because its neighbors, Mexico and Guatemala, have all these things, with the addition of incredible cuisines. Mexico even has much better beaches.
Belize's capital, Belmopan, is also a place that is more of a stopover city than a destination worth visiting.
10. Trinidad and Tobago
Capital: Port of Spain
Population: 1.395 million
Best known for: Carnival
Bottom Line: Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad is a rare Caribbean country whose economy doesn’t depend on tourism. In fact, most of it revolves around petroleum. Tobago, the smaller island, does rely more heavily on bringing in people to visit its waterfalls and gorgeous Nylon Pool. But Trinidad couldn’t care less about you visiting, which is a plus given how Disney-fied other countries in the area can feel.
On the other hand, there aren’t many landmarks or attractions to visit, and the tourism infrastructure is certainly lacking a bit. This is most apparent in Port of Spain, which is somewhat charmless outside of its perfect beaches.
But the country’s true gem is its food. A mix of Indigenous, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Indian and West African flavors makes it one of the absolute best — and maybe the most underrated — cuisines on the planet.
Trinidad and Tobago are also famous for having the best Carnival celebrations in the Caribbean.
Population: 25.36 million
Best known for: Diverse landscapes, endemic wildlife
Bottom Line: Australia
As the sixth largest country in the world, Australia has incredible biodiversity, including many unusual animals that often don’t seem real.
The country has large, busy cities like Sydney as well as surf towns and green national parks. It also has the Great Barrier Reef. Most of these, however, exist along the coastline of the country. The vast majority of it is a gigantic desert where life is difficult and barren.
Yes, even the desert has its wonders, including the iconic Uluru and Kata Tjuta red rocks. But most of the country continues to be barely habitable — there’s even a city built underground so residents can escape the heat.
Also, about 89 percent of the animals here want to kill you.
Best known for: Beaches, colonial architecture
Bottom Line: Barbados
Remember how we said there are Caribbean islands that are both breathtaking and affordable? Barbados is one of these. Not that it would be considered a budget destination — and the island certainly doesn’t want to be one — but it’s also not impossibly expensive.
Besides this, Barbados has turned its colonial architecture into a symbol of national pride. Particularly in the capital of Bridgetown, the colorful houses pop against the green mountains and blue ocean. That being said, there's not a ton to do here except enjoy the beaches.
Population: 4.904 million
Best known for: Guinness, seaside cliffs
Bottom Line: Ireland
The Emerald Isle is renowned for its astonishing coastline. Rugged high cliffs stand against the forces of water and wind to make an excitedly wild landscape.
There’s also a strong pub culture, and locals are known for being friendly, which means you’re likely to make friends while you’re out enjoying a pint.
But for all its charms, Irish cuisine can really only be described as “meh,” which makes the country lose several points.
6. United States
Capital: Washington, D.C.
Population: 328.2 million
Best known for: Big cities, pop culture
Bottom Line: United States
What the U.S. does right, it does great. The country is known for its thrilling cosmopolitan cities like New York and Chicago, both destinations that are definitely worth a visit. Then, there are its national parks, which include natural world wonders like the incredible Grand Canyon and the Geysers at Yellowstone.
But outside its wondrous nature and glitzy cities, much of the vast United States is a collection of forgettable towns and identical strip malls. It’s also very difficult to travel within the country unless you want to pay for a car rental, as only a few major cities have reliable public transport.
5. United Kingdom
Population: 66.65 million
Best known for: Royal family, colonizing half the world
Bottom Line: United Kingdom
The world may be obsessed with the royal family, but the Queen is one of the least interesting parts of the United Kingdom. London is a city with a deep and rich history with incredible museums — although a lot of what makes them incredible was pillaged from other countries.
The U.K. is also naturally beautiful, with the Lake District in England and Loch Lomond in Scotland particularly standing out. But if the kingdom falls a bit short, it's because its weather is lacking (we're just not fans of the fog), and all of the best food you’ll find here is decidedly not English.
We’ll enjoy an English breakfast after a night of drinking, and we’ll concede that fish and chips are decent. But when your best dish is French fries and deep-fried fish, well, that sums up everything you need to know about British cuisine.
Population: 37.59 million
Best known for: Maple syrup, hockie, wildlife
Bottom Line: Canada
Though in terms of architecture, Canada is just as bland and full of strip malls as the U.S., the country manages to make up for it in other ways. (Note that we’re not talking about Quebec here since we’re focusing on the English-speaking part of Canada.)
Yes, Toronto and Vancouver fall short of their decidedly more exciting neighbor cities of New York and Seattle, but it's the country's legendary friendliness that keeps visitors coming back. Food isn’t much better than in England — ketchup chips and poutine?! — but the nature is truly awe-inspiring.
What really brings Canada so far up the list is its unique position within the Arctic Circle. The country covers land so far north that you can actually take a tour to see narwhals, the mythical-like whales that only exist in the wild. This amazing experience can only be done in three other countries: Russia, Norway and Denmark (in Greenland).
Population: 2.948 million
Best known for: Reggae, food
Bottom Line: Jamaica
Like other Caribbean members of the British Commonwealth, Jamaica has dense jungles, pristine beaches and verdant hills that contrast with the ocean. If it performs better than all the other English-speaking islands, it’s because it also has reggae, and its food is known worldwide for its rich, spice-infused flavor.
Many people only see whatever is close to the cruise ship port, but if you take more time in the country, you’ll get to do hikes that lead to secret waterfalls within the jungle and actually have time to enjoy some Jamaican rum without rushing it.
2. South Africa
Capital: Cape Town, Pretoria, Bloemfontein
Population: 58.56 million
Best known for: National parks, wine
Bottom Line: South Africa
South Africa is a country that simply has it all. One of its three capitals, Cape Town, is one of the most exciting and lively in the African continent. There’s also great food, starting with the rich barbecue, braii, which often includes game meat as well as livestock cuts. On top of that, vineyards abound, producing high-quality wine that is extremely affordable within the country.
And then, of course, there's nature. You’ll find some of the continent's most famous national parks, including Kruger National Park. Here, you’ll get a chance to see the big five: leopard, lion, Cape buffalo, elephant and rhinoceros, as well as other animals. In the south, you can even find penguins.
For coastal landscapes, you can drive along the Garden Route, which provides views of lagoons, mountains and beaches along the southern coast.
1. New Zealand
Population: 4.917 million
Best known for: Beautiful landscapes, friendly people
Bottom Line: New Zealand
Though relatively small and definitely remote, New Zealand is a country that is simply unmatched in natural beauty. Enjoying the great outdoors is part of the culture, and both visitors and locals enjoy the diversity of scenery found in the two islands that make up the country. Even the cities here are very much tied to nature, with Queenstown being one of the adrenaline capitals of the world, surrounded by mountains and lakes.
New Zealand also has managed to preserve native Maori culture much better than Australia has with Aboriginal cultures. Elements of Maori culture can be seen in everyday life, from the language to the architecture.
As the absolute cherry on top, Kiwis are some of the friendliest people on this good Earth. Go ahead and try to find someone who has one bad thing to say about New Zealanders. We’ll be waiting.