Spanish is one of the major languages in the world and is the second-most spoken native language in the world, with the global population of native Spanish speakers being estimated at around 470 million people. The language has its origins in the Castile region in Spain, and spread all over the world in the 15th and 16th centuries as Spain established colonies around the world.
National Language: De Jure and De Facto
Over 440 million people all over the world have Spanish as the national language. These are mainly residents of about 21 sovereign countries in the world which have Spanish as the official language. In these countries, Spanish is the dominant language and is spoken by the majority of their respective populations. The majority of these countries are located in Latin America, as well as one in Africa, and one in Europe. Latin American countries where Spanish is the national language include Mexico, Uruguay, Panama, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Paraguay, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Cuba, Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile, Venezuela, Peru, Argentina, and Colombia. Equatorial Guinea is the only African country with Spanish as the national language, while Spain, the birthplace of the language, is the sole European country using Spanish as its national language. Of these countries, Mexico has the largest population of Spanish speakers, with a population of 120.287 million people, while Equatorial Guinea has the smallest, with 1.722 million speakers. In these countries, the use of the language is regulated by regulatory bodies established in the respective countries. The countries in which the use of Spanish language as the national language is created by the constitution include Ecuador, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Peru, Spain, Colombia, Equatorial Guinea, Panama, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Paraguay, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Cuba, and Guatemala. In the remaining countries - Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, and Nicaragua - the use of Spanish as the national language is not legally authorized and has a de facto status.
Commonly Used Language
In other countries around the world, Spanish is a minority language but is spoken by a significant percentage of the population. One of these countries is the United States, whose Spanish-speaking population is estimated to be around 52 million people, giving the United States the second-largest population of Spanish speakers in the world. New Mexico, one of the American states, has Spanish as its official state language. Spanish is incorporated in the education system of the United States and is the most popular foreign language taught in learning institutions. Belize is another country with a significant part of its population as Spanish speakers. The number of Spanish speakers in Belize is estimated to be 106,795 people. English is the official language in Belize, as the country is a Commonwealth realm, headed by the Queen of the United Kingdom. However, due to its long border with Mexico and Guatemala, 30% of Belize residents speak Spanish as their first language. Other countries with minor Spanish speakers are Gibraltar, with 23,857 Spanish speakers, and the Principality of Andorra, with 29,907 Spanish speakers.
Spanish As an Optional Language
Spanish is used as an auxiliary language in the Philippines, where the law stipulates that the use of Spanish should be voluntary. However, since the period when the country was under Spanish rule, through its independence until 1987, Spanish had been the official language enforced by law. The Philippines is the only country that has Spanish as an auxiliary language.
How Many Spanish Speaking Countries are There in the World?
Over 440 million people all over the world have Spanish as the national language. These are mainly residents of about 21 sovereign countries in the world which have Spanish as the official language.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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