Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language originally from the northern area of Spain. From there, its use gradually spread inside the Kingdom of Castile, where it evolved and eventually became the principal language of the government and trade. It was later taken to Africa, the Americas and Asia Pacific when they were brought under Spanish colonial rule between the 15th and 19th centuries.
Today, it is one of the official languages of Spain, most Latin American countries and Equatorial Guinea. In total, 21 nations use Spanish as their primary language. Spanish is also one of six official languages of the United Nations.
The language is spoken by between 322 and 400 million people natively, making Spanish the most spoken Romance language and possibly the second most spoken language by number of native speakers.
Mexico is the world's largest Spanish-speaking country. Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the United States and by far the most popular studied foreign language in U.S. schools and universities. Spanish is among the most popular foreign languages for study in the rest of the nations of the Anglosphere in general, where on top of the widespread use of English globally, the large number of additional countries and geographic territory that Spanish allows exploring is an attractive prospect for many people. Due to proximity, linguistic similarities, and trade reasons it is also a very popular second language in France, Italy, Portugal, and particularly the southern states of Brazil. It is estimated that the combined total of native and non-native Spanish speakers is approximately 500 million, likely making it the fourth most spoken language by total number of speakers. Global internet usage statistics for 2007 show Spanish as the third most commonly used language on the internet, after English and Chinese.
- Universidad de México
- Instituto Cervantes ("El Mundo" news) Cite error: Invalid
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- Ethnologue, 1999
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- PDF (129 KiB), MLA Fall 2002.
- World Internet Usage Statistics
- George Weber, TOP LANGUAGES: The World's 10 most influential Languages, andaman.org, http://www.andaman.org/BOOK/reprints/weber/rep-weber.htm, retrieved 2007-12-29 [unreliable source?]