|Spoken in||(see below)|
|Total speakers||First language 329 million to 400 million.|
500 million as first or second language.
|Ranking||2 (native speakers) 3 (total speakers)|
|Writing system||Latin (Spanish variant)|
|Official language in||21 countries, United Nations, European Union, Organization of American States, Organization of Ibero-American States, Union of South American Nations, Central American Integration System, African Union, Caricom, World Trade Organization, North American Free Trade Agreement, Andean Community of Nations, Mercosur, Inter-American Development Bank, Latin Union, Antarctic Treaty.|
|Regulated by||Association of Spanish Language Academies (Real Academia Española and 21 other national Spanish language academies)|
Countries where Spanish has official status.
States of the U.S. where Spanish has no official status but is spoken by 25% or more of the population.
States of the U.S. where Spanish has no official status but is spoken by 10-20% of the population.
States of the U.S. where Spanish has no official status but is spoken by 5-9.9% of the population.
|Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.|
Spanish or Castilian (español or castellano in Spanish) is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in the central-north of Iberia during the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the later Medieval period.
Modern Spanish developed with the "Readjustment of the Consonants" (Reajuste de las Sibilantes) that began in 15th century. The language continues to adopt foreign words from a variety of other languages, as well as developing new words. Spanish was taken most notably to the Americas as well as to Africa and Asia Pacific with the expansion of the Spanish Empire between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries, where it became the most important language for government and trade.
In 1999, there were 358 million people speaking Spanish as a native language and a total of 417 million speakers worldwide. Currently these figures are up to 400 and 500 million people respectively. Spanish is the second most natively spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese. Mexico contains the largest population of Spanish speakers. Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
Castilian evolved from Vulgar Latin (common Latin) that had been introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by Romans during the Second Punic War around 210 BC, with influences from native languages such as Celtiberian, Basque and other paleohispanic languages, and later external influences, most notably Arabic of the Andalusian period.
Local versions of Vulgar Latin are thought to have evolved into Castilian in the central-north of the Iberia during the 9th and 10th centuries, in an area defined by the remote crossroad strips of Alava, Cantabria, Burgos, Soria and La Rioja, within the Kingdom of Castile (see Glosas Emilianenses). In this formative stage, Castilian developed a strongly differing variant from its near cousin, Leonese, with a strong degree of Basque influence, (see Iberian Romance languages). This distinctive dialect progressively spread south with the advance of the Reconquista.
In the fifteenth century, Castilian underwent a dramatic change with the Readjustment of the Consonants (Reajuste de las sibilantes). Typical features of Spanish diachronic phonology include lenition (Latin vita, Spanish vida), palatalisation (Latin annum, Spanish año, and Latin anellum, Spanish anillo) and diphthongisation (stem-changing) of stressed short e and o from Vulgar Latin (Latin terra, Spanish tierra; Latin novus, Spanish nuevo). Similar phenomena can be found in other Romance languages as well.
The first Spanish grammar (Gramática de la lengua castellana) — and, incidentally, the first grammar of any modern European language — was written in Salamanca, Spain, in 1492, by Elio Antonio de Nebrija. When he presented it to Queen Isabella, according to anecdote, she asked him what was the use of such a work, and he answered that language is the instrument of empire.
In his introduction to the grammar, dated August 18, 1492, Nebrija wrote that "... language was always the companion of empire."
From the 16th century onwards, the language was taken to the Americas and the Spanish East Indies via Spanish colonization. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra's influence on the Spanish language from the 17th century has been so great that Spanish is often called la lengua de Cervantes ("the language of Cervantes").
In the 20th century, Spanish was introduced to Equatorial Guinea and the Western Sahara, and to areas of the United States that had not been part of the Spanish Empire, such as Spanish Harlem in New York City. For details on borrowed words and other external influences upon Spanish, see Influences on the Spanish language.
Spanish is recognised as one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union, the Organisation of American States, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the African Union, the Union of South American Nations, the Latin Union, and the Caricom and has legal status in the North American Free Trade Agreement.
|Country||> (PDF). http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2008/wpp2008_text_tables.pdf. Retrieved 2010-04-21.||Spanish as a native language speakers||t concrete sources about Spanish speakers as a second language except to Europe and Latin America countries).||Spanish speakers as percentage of population||Total number of Spanish speakers|
|United States||309,059,724 ||44,468,501 ||6,231,499 + Students||15.8% ||50,000,000 + 7,820,000 students|
|Spain||47,021,031 ||41,848,717 ||4,581,088||98.8%||46,456,779|
|Dominican Republic||11,235,863 ||10,120,705||62,558||99.6%||10,184,100|
|Morocco||29,680,069 ||20,000 ||6,479,935||21.9% ||6,499,935|
|El Salvador||6,183,002 ||6,183,002||99.7%||6,164,451|
|Costa Rica||4,615,646 ||4,345,130||87,126||99.2%||4,432,256|
|Puerto Rico||3,998,000 ||3,802,098 ||147,334||98.8%||3,950,024|
|United Kingdom||60,943,912||107,654 ||3,814,846||6.4%||3,922,500|
|Philippines||96,061,683||2,660 ||3,014,115||3.1%||3,016,773 |
|Equatorial Guinea||1,153,915 ||n.a.||1,044,293||90.5% ||1,044,293|
|Australia||21,007,310||106,517 ||374,571 ||2.3%||481,088 |
|Brazil||185.712.713||445,005 ||5 million students||unknown|
|Ivory Coast||20,179,602||235,806 ||1.2%||235,806|
|Israel||7,112,359||130,000 ||45,231||2.5%||175,231 |
|Switzerland||7,581,520||123,000 ||14,420||1.7% ||137,420|
|Belize||301,270||106,795 ||21,848||42.7%||128,643 |
|Andorra||84,484||29,907 ||25,356||68.7% ||58,040|
|New Zealand||4,173,460||21,645 ||0.5%||21,645|
|Trinidad and Tobago||1,047,366||4,100||0.4%||4,100|
|Western Sahara||513,000 ||n.a.||n.a.||n.a.||n.a.|
|Other immigrants in the E.U.||1,399,531 ||1,399,531|
|Other students of Spanish||2,895,562 ||2,895,562|
|Total native speakers in the world + bilingual and as a second language where Spanish is official:||427,440,053 ||32,928,599||460,368,652 |
|Total with Spanish speakers as a foreign language:||89,983,399||517,423,452 |
It is estimated that the combined total number of Spanish speakers is between 470 and 500 million, making it the third most spoken language by total number of speakers (after Chinese, and English). Spanish is the second most-widely spoken language in terms of native speakers. Global internet usage statistics for 2007 show Spanish as the third most commonly used language on the Internet, after English and Chinese.