French is an indo-european language, family of the Roman languages. It is an official language in 29 countries across five different continents, most of which are members of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), the community of 84 countries which share the official use or teaching of French. After having been the language of the Royal courts in Russia, Spain, England and the Princes of Germany, it still is to day, with English, a major language.
French is, with English, the only language spoken on all continents: as a result of French and Belgian colonialism from the 16th century onward, the language was introduced to new territories in the Americas, Africa and Asia.
422 million people speak French in Africa in 2018, that's about 1/3 of the population of the African continent. There are more French speaking people in Africa than in Europe. The African countries where French is the first official language (Côte D'Ivoire, Gabon), and those where it is the second language (République Démocratique du Congo) are countries of the former French and Belgian colonial empires.
French is estimated to have about 76 million native speakers and about 235 million daily, fluent speakers and another 77 to 110 million secondary speakers who speak it as a second language to varying degrees of proficiency.
Map of the languages of the world.