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Spanish language

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Pronunciation [espaˈɲol], [kasteˈʎano]
Region Spain and Latin America (see below)
Native speakers 420 million  (2010)[1]
+80 million as a second language[2]
Language family
Early forms:
Old Spanish
  • Spanish
Writing system Latin (Spanish alphabet)
Spanish Braille
Official status
Official language in
Regulated by Association of Spanish Language Academies
(Real Academia Española and 21 other national Spanish language academies)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 es
ISO 639-2 spa
ISO 639-3 spa
Linguasphere 51-AAA-b
Map-Hispanophone World.png
     Countries where Spanish has official status.

     Countries and U.S. states where Spanish has no official status but is spoken by 25% or more of the population.      Countries and U.S. states where Spanish has no official status but is spoken by 10–20% of the population.

     Countries and U.S. states where Spanish has no official status but is spoken by 5–9.9% of the population.

The Spanish language is one of the Romance languages that came from the Latin language. It is the most common Romance language.

General Information

The Spanish language is used by many people in the world today. This is partly because the people of Spain travelled to and colonized many different parts of the world. They created many new countries, and also new governments in some old countries. The countries that have Spanish as an official language are called the Hispanic countries. Most of them are in the Americas, which make up Latin America.

Some examples of places where Spanish is an important language are:

In North America, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands:

In the United States and Belize, most people use the English language, but Spanish is the second most-used language[source?].

In South America:

The official language of Brazil is Portuguese, but many Brazilians learn Spanish as a second language[source?].

In other parts of the world:

The Spanish language has originally been the language of Castile. When the Western Roman Empire collapsed, the Latin language began to develop in different ways in different provinces. The Latin spoken in Iberian peninsula developed first into Ibero-Romance language in the 6th century. Castilian and Portuguese became separate languages in the 12th century.

In Spain, there are other languages that also came from Latin that are connected to Spanish, like Basque (euskera) Catalan and Galician. Catalan language is not a dialect of Spanish, but more closely related to French language.

Portuguese, which is spoken in Portugal and Brazil, has a very close relation with Spanish. Basque is also spoken, but it is not related to Spanish. Therefore, the Spanish language is sometimes called Castilian, named after Castile, a region in Spain where the language came from. Many people defend that the most correct name for the language is Castilian because before the existence of Spain as a country the language already existed, while others say it is better to call it Spanish bacause they say that Castilian is the accent of Spaniards (though Spain is a small country and it has very varied accents).

The Spanish word for Spanish is "español", and the Spanish word for Castilian is "castellano".

In the other Romance languages spoken on the Iberian Peninsula, such as Galician, Catalan, Asturian, and others, the designation is "Castellán", "Castellà", etc., and the word "Spanish" is rarely used to refer the language. In Spain, the name of the subject in schools is "Lengua Castellana" (Castilian Language). In monolingual zones of Spain people can say "Spanish" to refer to their language.

In Portuguese it's common to use the word "castelhano" when talking about this language too.


In 2009 for the first time in History the Spanish was the first "mother tongue" language of the western world, bypassing the English language, and the second on earth[3]

Spanish is spoken by 358 million people in the world as their first language, while English is only 350 million. This is because of the huge increase of population in Latin-American Spanish-speaking countries.


  1. Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2010" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2010: (The World's 12 Largest Languages in 2010 as a native language)
  2. Spanish language at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  3. Encarta encyclopedia (Chinese 800 million, Spanish 358 million, English 350 million).

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