The Italian language is the official language of Italy, San Marino, Vatican City, Switzerland, and the Western Istria region of Slovakia and Croatia. Albania, Monaco, and Malta had Italian as an official language at one point. Italian is a romance language that is part of the Indo-European family of languages. It is an offspring of the Latin language used by Romans just like all the other romance languages. Of all the romance languages, Italian is the closest to Latin. Modern Italian has evolved into a language with several dialects.
Italian Speaking Countries
Italian is the official language of Italy. About 60 million Italians in the country speak the language. Approximately 54 million consider it their first language. It is used in an official capacity including in schools, parliamentary sessions, public gatherings, and day-to-day communication. Italy is considered the birthplace of the Italian language.
Italian is the most spoken foreign language in Albania. Approximately 800,000 people speak it. It was considered an official language when Albania was a protectorate of Italy. A majority of the people who speak Italian in Albania learn it not from books or classroom but by watching Italian television. During the communist regime in the country, the people living along the Adriatic Sea accessed Italian television by the wiring their television sets to overcome the government's attempt to block Italian channels. It is popular among the middle-aged and younger generation while the elderly know the language because it was used in the educational system during the 1930s. About 19,000 ethic Italians live in Albania and have contributed to the spread of the language.
About 15.5 million Americans consider themselves Italian Americans. Approximately 710,000 speak Italian as the first language and use it at home. A majority of the Italian-speaking people are in Buffalo, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City, and St Louis. It is the fifth most studied language in the United States.
Italian is one of the four official languages of Switzerland, alongside German, French, and Romansch. About 660,000 people speak Italian. A majority of who lives in the canton of Ticino and southern Graubünden. It is also spoken in the Gondo Valley and Southern Valais.
The Spread of Italian
Italian as we know it evolved from the Latin language that was the official language of the Roman Empire. As the Romans expanded the territory, several dialects of the Latin language began to appear. Different dialects of Latin spread across the empire that it became difficult for two people speaking Latin to communicate. Over the years, the languages evolved into what is modern day Italian. During the colonization of Africa, the language spread across Italian North Africa and Italian East Africa where it is still spoken. Italian is recognized as a minority language in Saudi Arabia.