The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), known informally and more commonly as La Francophonie, is an international organization representing countries and regions where French is the first ("mother") or customary language; and/or where a significant proportion of the population are francophones (French speakers); and/or where there is a notable affiliation with French culture.
The organization comprises 56 member states and governments, three associate members and twenty observers. The term francophonie (with a lowercase "f") also refers to the global community of French-speaking peoples, comprising a network of private and public organizations promoting special ties among all Francophones. In a majority of member states, French is not the predominant native language. The prerequisite for admission to the Francophonie is not the degree of French usage in the member countries, but a prevalent presence of French culture and language in the member country's identity, usually stemming from France's colonial ambitions with other nations in its history.
French geographer Onésime Reclus, brother of Élisée Reclus, coined the word Francophonie in 1880 to refer to the community of people and countries using the French language. Francophonie was then coined a second time by Léopold Sédar Senghor, founder of the Négritude movement, in the review Esprit in 1962, who assimilated it into Humanism.
The modern organization was created in 1970. Its motto is égalité, complémentarité, solidarité ("equality, complementarity, and solidarity"), a deliberate allusion to France's motto. Started as a small club of northern French-speaking countries, the Francophonie has since evolved into a global organization whose numerous branches cooperate with its member states in the fields of culture, science, economy, justice, and peace.