Territories And Countries Where Portuguese Is An Official Language

Portuguese is the de facto or de jure official language of Portugal, Brazil, Macau, some African countries, and a few island territories.

Portuguese is one of the Romance Languages in the Indo-European language family. It has an estimated 250 million speakers of which 215 to 220 million people speak it as a native tongue. Historically, Portuguese evolved from a few dialects of Vulgar Latin associated with the ancient Kingdom of Galicia. It is spoken in Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa. Portuguese is a recognized official language in the European Union, African Union, OAS, Mercosul, and ECOWAS.

Portuguese In South America

Brazil is identified as the largest Portuguese-speaking state in the world. An estimated population of 202,656,788 speaks the language in the nation. Portuguese in Brazil was introduced by Portuguese settlers who established a colony in the region. In 1775, the use of indigenous tongues in Brazil was banned by Marquês de Pombal, and thus Portuguese gained widespread popularity. The Portuguese spoken in Brazil derived influences from the African and Amerindian languages spoken by the natives thus the Portuguese spoken in the country is noticeably different from that spoken in Portugal. Brazil is the country in South America with Portuguese as its official language. The migration of Brazilians to other countries has led to Portuguese-speaking communities settling in such countries as Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Japan.

Portuguese In Africa

Several countries in Africa have Portuguese as the official language. An estimated population of 24,692,144 people in Mozambique speaks Portuguese. Mozambique inherited Portuguese during the colonial period, and the country is a current member of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. The language serves as bridge language among the country's numerous ethnicities. Angola has a Portuguese-speaking population of 19,088,106. Like Mozambique, Angola is a former Portuguese colony. 90% of Angola's population is fluent in the language, and 75% of the country's households have Portuguese as their primary language. Portuguese is also an official language in Guinea-Bissau, where it is spoken by a population of 1,693,398. A Portuguese-based creole tongue referred to as Kriol or Guinea-Bissau Creole is the country's lingua franca, spoken by almost the whole population. Before Spanish occupation, Portuguese had colonized Equatorial Guinea from 1474 to 1778. A population of 722,254 in the nation speaks Portuguese while the majority of the people are fluent in Spanish. Cape Verde has 538,535 of its population fluent in Portuguese. Most of the inhabitants of Cape Verde speak in Cape Verdean Creole which is a Portuguese-based Creole. 95% of the population of São Tomé and Principe speak in Portuguese while a Portuguese-based creole known as Forro is also popular.

Portuguese In Europe

An estimated 10,813,834 people in Portugal are fluent in Portuguese. Modern Portuguese evolved from Galician-Portuguese starting the 16th century. There are about ten dialects of Portuguese spoken in the country. The closest linked language to Portuguese is Galician which has native speakers in Galicia, Spain. Portuguese immigrants have established communities in other nations of Europe such as Germany, UK, Luxembourg, and Belgium.

Portuguese In Asia

In East Timor, an estimated population of 1,201,542 people speaks in Portuguese. The language is co-official with Tetum, the latter which has been heavily influenced by the former. Macau, a former Portuguese colony, has the language spoken by 587,914 of its inhabitants. Portuguese is co-official with Cantonese in Macau.

Future Development Of Portuguese

Estimates from UNESCO have shown that among European languages, Portuguese is the fastest growing language after English. The language's potential for growth is particularly high in South America and southern Africa. Due to trade relations with Brazil, Portuguese is part of the school curriculum in Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. Portuguese is also taught in China's big cities due to increasing trade relations with Portuguese-speaking nations.

Territories And Countries Where Portuguese Is An Official Language

RankCountryPopulation (2014 est.)
1 Brazil202,656,788
2 Mozambique24,692,144
3 Angola19,088,106
4 Portugal10,813,834
5 Guinea-Bissau1,693,398
6 East Timor1,201,542
7 Equatorial Guinea722,254
8 Macau587,914
9 Cape Verde538,535
10 São Tomé and Príncipe190,428

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