Spanish language

Romance language originating in the central part of the Iberian Peninsula

Spanish (Spanish: español, pronounced "Eh-span-yole", IPA: /espaɲol/), also called Castilian, is a Romance language. It is the most spoken Romance language in the world. As of December 2021, over 489 million people in the world spoke Spanish as their first language.[1]

Pronunciation[espaˈɲol], [kasteˈʎano]
RegionSpain and Latin America (see below)
Native speakers
489 million (2016)[1]
+75 million as a second language[1]
564 million total
Early form
Latin (Spanish alphabet)
Spanish Braille
Official status
Official language in

Regulated byAssociation of Spanish Language Academies
(Real Academia Española and 21 other national Spanish language academies)
Language codes
ISO 639-1es
ISO 639-2spa
ISO 639-3spa
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.
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Spanish spoken in Spain

Brief historyEdit

The language Spanish or previously known as Castilian is originally adopted from a dialect of spoken Latin. At the beginning of 218 BC, it was brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans, and after evolving and improving for centuries, today with over 489 million native speakers, it is the world’s 4th most spoken language, after English, Mandarin Chinese, and Hindi.


Spanish is used by many people in the world today, partly because Spain traveled and colonized many different parts of the world and created many new countries and governments. The countries with Spanish as an official language are called the Hispanic countries. Most of them are in the Americas, which make up Latin America. They include the following:

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

In the United States[2] and Belize,[3] most people use English, but Spanish is the second-most common language.

In South America:

Many Brazilians learn Spanish as a second language even though Brazil's official language is Portuguese.[4]

In other parts of the world:

Related languagesEdit

The Spanish language was originally the language of Castile.[7] When the Western Roman Empire collapsed, Latin changed in different ways in different provinces.[8] The Latin spoken in the Iberian Peninsula developed into the Ibero-Romance language in the 6th century.[9] Castilian and Portuguese became separate languages around the 12th century.[9]

In Spain, there are other languages that also came from Latin that are connected to Spanish, like Catalan, and Galician.[10] Basque, also called Euskera or Euskara, is spoken in the Basque region of northern Spain and the southern region of France. Very different from Spanish,[11] Basque is a language isolate since it is not known to have descended from any language family.

Catalan is not a dialect of Spanish and is actually more closely related to French.[7]


Spanish is sometimes called Castilian[12] because Castile is the region in Spain that is the origin of the language.[8] Castile is the region that is considered to speak the most proper form of Spanish.[8]

The Spanish word for Spanish is "español", and the Spanish word for Castilian is "castellano".[7] In the other Romance languages spoken on the Iberian Peninsula, such as Galician, Catalan, Asturian, and others, Spanish is usually called "Castellán" or "Castellà" instead of "Spanish".[13][better source needed] In Spain, the name of the subject in schools is "lengua castellana" (Castilian language). However, in the regions of Spain in which people speak only Spanish, people call their language Spanish.[13][better source needed]

In Portuguese, the word "castelhano" is common to mention Spanish,[14] however, in informal language, the most preferred name for the language is "espanhol". Portuguese, which is spoken in Portugal and Brazil, has many similarities to Spanish.[15]


In 2009, for the first time in history, Spanish was the most common "mother tongue" language of the western world, more than English. It was also the second most common language on Earth, after Chinese. As of 2016, the three most common languages in the world are:[1]

  1. Chinese: Spoken by about 1.305 billion people
  2. Spanish: Spoken by about 427 million people in 34 different countries
  3. English: Spoken by 339 million people in 108 different countries


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 El español: una lengua viva – Informe 2020 (PDF) (Report). Instituto Cervantes. 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 February 2020. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  2. Ryan, Camille (August 2013). Language Use in the United States: 2011 – American Community Survey Reports (PDF) (Report). United States Census Bureau.
  3. "Belize". The World Factbook. United States Central Intelligence Agency. November 10, 2016.
  4. "Brazil". The World Factbook. United States Central Intelligence Agency. November 10, 2016.
  5. "Spanish is once again a compulsory subject in the Philippines". Archived from the original on July 14, 2010. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  6. "Brazil". The World Factbook. United States Central Intelligence Agency. November 10, 2016.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "What Spanish is spoken in Barcelona – Catalan vs. Castilian?". Barcelona University.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "What kind of Spanish is spoken in Madrid – is Castilian the purest type of Spanish?". Madrid University.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Ibero-Romance Languages". Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing Press. World Heritage Encyclopedia.
  10. "Languages across Europe: Spain". BBC. October 14, 2014.
  11. Michelena, Luis, and de Rijk, Rudolf P.G. (February 19, 2009). "Basque Language". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. "Language Throne- The Best Resources To Speak Any Language Fluently". Language Throne. Retrieved 2021-09-01.
  13. 13.0 13.1 en:Names given to the Spanish language
  14. Aseguinolaza, Fernando Cabo; Abuin, Anxo; Dominguez, Cesar (eds.). A Comparative History of Literatures in the Iberian Peninsula, Volume 1. John Benjamins Publishing Company. ISBN 978-90-272-3457-5.
  15. Sala, Marius; Posner, Rebecca (November 30, 2015). "Portuguese Language". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.

Other websitesEdit