Thinking about learning Spanish? Despite its growing popularity in North America – specifically the U.S. – and its obvious usefulness in Spain and Mexico, where else can you show off your soon-to-be (or already awesome) Spanish skills? In more places than you think. Here’s a breakdown of all the countries in the world that consider Spanish as their native language, speak the language or use a variation of it.
Spanish is one of the most popular languages in the world, next to Mandarin Chinese and English. Approximately 425 million people worldwide use Spanish as their primary means of communication. Mandarin Chinese has around 880 million users and English has around 400 million. Spanish is a romance language and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. In terms of foreign speakers, Spanish is the most widely learned second language with around 60 million speakers. Needless to say, if you want to be bilingual, Spanish is a wise choice. Get started with Spanish for Beginners today.
Spanish is the official language in 20 countries, and Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States. This means that the government has ruled Spanish as the country’s language (much like the United States government rules English as the native language) but this doesn’t mean there aren’t wide variations in how it’s spoken or pronounced. In most of these countries, indigenous languages are widely accepted but not as widely used. If you find yourself employing Spanish in any of these countries (less in a really rural community) chances are you will get by just fine.
The official Spanish speaking countries are: Spain, Colombia, Perú, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Bolivia, Honduras, Paraguay, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panamá, Equatorial Guinea and Puerto Rico.
De Facto Countries
While one-third of all residents in Mexico speak language, the country recognizes over 68 indigenous languages – and Spanish – as the collection of national languages. The Mexican constitution encourages the preservation and enrichment of indigenous peoples and their languages, which is pretty awesome. All business is conducted in Spanish as it’s the de facto language. Mexico has the largest amount of Spanish speakers in the world.
Argentineans use a variation of Spanish that includes voseo which replaces the familiar Spanish pronoun tu (you) with vos. This is the same variation of Spanish that is used in Uruguay, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica. If you are visiting Argentina and encounter Spanish speakers (which you will) you’ll notice their accents differ greatly from other Latin American Spanish speaking countries. Just take time to absorb it and you’ll be fine. If you’re struggling with the language, conversational Spanish made easy could be a good place to brush up on your skills.
Chileans speak Spanish but there are a lot of other native languages that come into play here. The variation of the Spanish languages is relatively slim compared to neighboring countries varying accents, colloquialisms and vocabulary. Chileans tend to have softer pronunciations and drop the s sound which makes it a bit different then your Spain spoken Spanish.
With around 10 million Spanish speakers, the DR is pretty much entirely a Spanish speaking country. All education is done in Spanish and all business and politics are conducted in Spanish, too. There are pockets of Haitians who speak Haitian Creole and some Samaná English speakers as well.
Like in Argentina, voseo is popular amongst Spanish speaking Nicaraguans. As you travel throughout this country you will notice a lot of creole languages – mixes between Spanish and indigenous languages – that make it sound really familiar and really foreign at the same time. The accents here vary greatly and so does the vocabulary. With Spanish knowledge you should be able to get by just fine.
Uruguay is kind of a hodge-podge of languages. While Spanish is certainly the predominantly used language, English is often times used for business and politics. Due to an uncanny number of Italian immigrants, the people of Uruguay used to speak a hybrid languages called Cocoliche, made up of both Italian and Spanish. This isn’t used as frequently, but many Italian vocabulary words have stuck around. Learn how to memorize the vocabulary for any language. There seem to be no known indigenous languages remaining.
New Mexico’s de facto language is actually Spanish. Weird, right? It’s not common knowledge, but most business and political affairs will be done in both Spanish and English to suit the needs of all the residents. This is an increasing trend around the United States anyways, but New Mexico is totally spearheading this. More than people 37 million people consider Spanish as their native language and almost ten million more who speak it as a second language.
Although Belize’s official language is not Spanish, it is surround by Spanish speaking countries which increases the usefulness of this language in the country. More than half of the Belizean population speaks Spanish as their first language.
In Andorra, Spanish is used amongst most people – especially between those with different native language backgrounds. It’s pretty much a meet-in-the middle line of communication. The official language of the state is Catalan and French is also widely accepted and used.
Like Andorra, Gibraltar’s official language is not Spanish but Spanish is used quite often. Actually, the native language is English but with such a collection of diverse communities, Berber, Arabic, and Hindu are also used. Special to Gibraltar is a vernacular used between locals called Llanito which is based on Andalusian Spanish.
Brazil isn’t a Spanish speaking country, but a lot of business is conducted in Spanish due to its geographical location amongst Spanish speaking countries.
Did you know?
The Philippines official language was Spanish until 1987? Under Spanish rule starting in the 16th century, until 1987, Spanish was “the language” of the Filipino’s. However, less than 1% of Filipinos can speak or write Spanish fluently today. Instead, the more popular Chavacano language is spoken by 700,000 people. Chavacano is a Spanish based creole language.