Spanish language population: The US is the World’s Fourth Largest Spanish Speaking Country

Spanish in the World — Language Magazine

Last month, the Instituto Cervantes launched its yearbook, Spanish in the World 2019, with the latest data showing that a total of 580 million people speak Spanish (7.6% of the world’s population). Of these, 483 million are native Spanish speakers, which makes Spanish the second mother tongue in the world by number of speakers. In addition, it is studied by almost 22 million people in 110 countries. Spanish is the third-most-used language on the internet, where it has great growth potential.

The launch was hosted by Cervantes director Luis García Montero, who said that “teaching a language is much more than teaching a vocabulary; it is sharing values and showing a culture of open identities and democratic values.” For Montero, disseminating Spanish and its culture helps to counteract global problems such as “intolerance, supremacy, or identity chimeras that consider diversity a threat.”

The Madrid launch was followed by one in New York and another in Los Angeles (see p. 10.), demonstrating the Institute’s focus on the U.S., to which Montero added, “we want to stand by Hispanics in the U.S. against the politics of contempt and ‘English only.’”
Closing the Madrid launch, the acting deputy prime minister of Spain, Carmen Calvo, ignored the figures to focus on the importance of language, noting that she regretted that words sometimes lose their purpose—that is, to facilitate communication and understanding—and that they can be used as “weapons of destruction.” She denounced the perceived decrease in the capacity for dialogue and listening as well as “impoverishment of the lexicon,” arguing that faced with the “banal use of words,” social networks “do not help,” because anything can be said irresponsibly and without waiting for more response than a “like.”

During his speech, Richard Bueno, director of Cervantes New York, emphasized that Spanish has two complementary aspects—unity and diversity. He warned not to be complacent about the rising number of Spanish speakers and provided three tips: teach Spanish to speakers of other languages, educate Spanish speakers about the traction force of Spanish, and educate leaders about language’s role in getting people to work together or “row together in the same direction.

The report contains four sections:
The first section, “Spanish: A Living Language,” highlights the following data:

  • Almost 483 million (2018: 480 million) people speak Spanish as their mother tongue.
  • The number of potential Spanish users exceeds 580 million, including native, limited competence, and foreign language students. Last year it was 577 million.
  • Spanish is the second mother tongue in the world by number of speakers, only behind Mandarin Chinese.
  • It is the third language in the global computation of speakers (native domain + limited proficiency + Spanish students), after English and Chinese.
  • For demographic reasons, the percentage of the world’s population that speaks Spanish as a native language is increasing, while the proportion of Chinese, English, and French speakers is decreasing.
  • Now, 7.6% of the world population speaks Spanish (7.7% predicted in 2050).
  • The U.S. will, in 2060, be the second Spanish-speaking country in the world after Mexico: almost one in three Americans will be Hispanic.

Study of Spanish as a Foreign Language

  • 21,882,448 students are formally studying Spanish as a foreign language (67,000 more than last year).
  • In the U.S., Spanish is the most studied language at all levels of education.
  • The teaching of Spanish in English-speaking countries such as Canada (with 90,000 students), Ireland (47,000), Australia (34,000), and New Zealand (36,000) has also grown significantly.
  • The contribution of all Spanish-speaking countries to global GDP is 6.9%.
  • Spanish is the fourth-most-powerful economic language in the world, slightly behind French and Chinese and further behind English.

Spanish on the Internet

  • It is the third-most-used language on the internet, after English and Chinese.
  • 8.1% of internet communication occurs in Spanish.
  • It is the second-most-used language on Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Of the 580 million users of the LinkedIn social network, 55 million use Spanish to a greater or lesser extent. Most of them are in Central and South America.
  • Spanish has a high potential for growth on the internet due to the average internet penetration in Spanish-speaking countries (which at 65.8% is still far below penetration in Spain, at 92%).
  • Mexico is among the ten countries with the highest number of users on the internet.
  • After English, Spanish is the language with the second-most scientific documents published in it.
  • Spain is the third-largest exporter of books in the world, after the UK and the U.S.

The second section of the 2019 yearbook contains ten articles that dissect the future of the language over almost 230 pages.

The third section addresses the evolution of Spanish and its culture in Australia, Indonesia, South Korea, Israel, Egypt, Italy, and Portugal.  This section was launched in 2018 with the intention to map geographically and thematically, year after year, the international presence of the Hispanic language and its cultures.

Reports from the Cervantes Institute end the book, with the article that updates and presents in detail all the information regarding Cervantes Institutes around the world. The Madrid launch was attended by the filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, one of the most enthusiastic ambassadors for Spanish culture abroad.

Spanish Speaking Countries & How Many People Speak Spanish

They say learning a new language can take you places. But do you know how many countries you can visit when you learn Spanish?

You’re not alone if you’ve decided to learn Spanish for jobs, studies, or hobbies. With over 500 million Spanish speakers, you’re in good company. 

The Spanish language is one of the most widely spoken around the globe. Spanish is still very much associated with Spain, where it originated. But it will surprise you that most Spanish speakers live outside this nation.

When you understand how many people know Spanish and where it’s spoken. Then you’ll be able to understand its importance. So let’s find out everything about it.

  • About the Spanish language
  • Spanish-Speaking countries — Hispanophone

    • 3rd most taught language in the world
    • The official status of the Spanish language
  • Where In The World Is Spanish Spoken?

    • 1. Spanish speakers in Europe

      • Other nations in Europe
    • 2. Spanish speakers in North America

      • Spanish Speaking population in the USA
      • How many people speak Spanish in Mexico?
    • 3. Spanish speakers in Central America
    • 4. Spanish speakers in the Caribbean
    • 5. Spanish speakers in South America
    • 6. Spanish speakers in Africa
    • 6. Spanish speakers in Asia
  • Explore the world of Spanish

But first.

About the Spanish language

Spanish (Español) is a Romance language from Spain’s Castille region. This is why it is called Castilian, mainly in Latin America.

We know it as the Iberian Romance language because of its place of origin. Catalan, Galician, and Portuguese are some other languages that belong to this sub-language family.

Latin is the root of the Spanish language. After the Roman conquest in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, it arrived on the Iberian Peninsula. 

During the 13th century, King Alfonso made the Castilian variant the official language of the government administration. Since then, it has remained a primary language in this region till today.

In terms of size, the Spanish Empire was one of the biggest empires in history. It colonized a vast area of North, Central, and South America. That is why many people speak Spanish on these two continents.

Spanish-Speaking countries — Hispanophone

There is an extensive spread of Spanish across the globe. You can find plenty of Spanish-speaking people from the Philippines to Spain to the US to Peru.

According to a recent study by Cervantes, there are 493 million native Spanish speakers globally. The total number rises to 591 million once we add those who speak it as a foreign language or have good competency.

In short, there are nearly 600 million Spanish speakers worldwide, making up 7.5% of the total world population. It is also the third-most spoken mother tongue, after Mandarin and Hindi.

3rd most taught language in the world

Roughly 24 million students are learning Spanish as a foreign language. This pushes it into the third most-studied language globally, after English and French.

No matter your reasons for studying Spanish and where you live, you can find many chances to learn this beautiful tongue. Moreover, it is easily accessible with a ton of resources.

The official status of the Spanish language

Spanish (also known as Castellano) is the only official language of entire Spain. It is also the mother tongue of the vast majority of the Spanish population.

Twenty sovereign countries (by law/de jure or de facto) have declared Spanish their official language. Puerto Rico, a US-dependent territory, also uses it as its official language.

Spanish is the official language of dozens of international organizations. It includes the United Nations (UN), Organization of American States, World Trade Organization (WTO), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), African Union, etc.

Spanish has official and legal status in 20 Hispanic nations and 1 US territory. Here is the list of 21 official Spanish-speaking countries.

Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Peru, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Spanish continues to have political influence or is valuable in many places. For instance, territories such as the USA, Philippines, Morocco, Belize, and France, to name a few.

Where In The World Is Spanish Spoken?

Spanish is everywhere, across cities, countries, and continents. The Hispanic world is massive and ever-growing. 

There are many regions all over the globe where Spanish is widely spoken. So let’s get into it!

1. Spanish speakers in Europe

Spain’s five official languages are Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Basque, and Aranese.

Spain is a multi-language country. Yet nearly 95% of the population of Spain speaks Spanish (also known as Castellano) as a mother tongue or second language, despite diverse languages.

Andorra, though a small country, has 40% Spanish speakers. Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory in the Iberian Peninsula, has many bilinguals who speak Spanish.

Spanish is the sixth most commonly used language in Europe after Russian, German, French, English, and Italian. With 46 million speakers, it is a helpful language in Europe.

Other nations in Europe

Spanish isn’t widely spoken or holds official status in other European regions. But, it has active communities of native speakers in dozens of nations.

This includes France, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, the UK, Ireland, Romania, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Finland, etc.

The Spanish-speaking folk in these places range from 2% to 10%. Also, one can find native speakers in nearly every European nation, even if the percentage is small.

In the European Union, Spanish is one of 24 official languages.

2. Spanish speakers in North America

In North America, Spanish is famous across two major countries. The United States has many Spanish speakers, but it is not an approved language.

Mexico is the only country that uses Spanish as its national language in the region. Many immigrants from Spain and Latin America speak Spanish in Canada.

Spanish Speaking population in the USA

Spanish, like English, does not have official status in the USA. Still, it has notable native and bilingual Spanish speakers.

Around 42 million people in the US speak Spanish as their aboriginal language as of 2023, making up 13% of the total population. Further, the US is home to about 12 million bilingual Spanish speakers.

Overall, roughly 54 million Spanish speakers are in the USA. So it has more Spanish speakers than Spain and Colombia. As a result, it is the second-largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico.

Spanish is also the most commonly taught language in the US. So, per the increasing number of Spanish students and Hispanic ethnic groups, we only expect the number to grow.

The US Census office expects 138 million Spanish speakers by 2050. This can make the US the world’s biggest Spanish-speaking nation.

How many people speak Spanish in Mexico?

Mexico has the most significant number of native Spanish-speaking citizens in the world. It has twice as many Spanish speakers as Spain.

The Mexican Government identifies 68 national languages, including 63 indigenous, and hundreds of their dialects. This makes it diverse in languages.

Nearly 90% of the population spoke yet Spanish. As of 2023, around 125 million people in Mexico speak Spanish as their mother tongue or second language.

3. Spanish speakers in Central America

There is a significant Spanish-speaking population across the seven countries of Central America.

Except for Belize, all six nations, i.e., Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Costa Rica, have Spanish status as “de jure.”

90% to 99% of the population of these countries speak Spanish as a first or second language. Also, almost half of its population can speak Spanish in Belize.

So, about 170 million of the total 182 million living in Central America communicate in Spanish.

Central America is the only place where Spanish is always spoken across borders. So naturally, this is a joy for Spanish language lovers.

4. Spanish speakers in the Caribbean

There are dozens of independent nations and overseas territories in the Caribbean region. But Spanish isn’t a common language here.

Only three islands (Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico) use Spanish as an authorized language. While the two are independent, Puerto Rico is a territory of the US.

Spanish is also beneficial in the Bay Islands (Honduras), Corn Islands (Nicaragua), Nueva Esparta (Venezuela), Isla Cozumel and Isla Mujeres (Mexico), and San Andrés and Santa Catalina (Colombia).

5. Spanish speakers in South America

Of the 10 countries with a significant population, Spanish is the official language of 9 countries. This includes Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Spanish is a dominant language across 9 countries. Yet, indigenous and local languages like Quechua, Guarani, and Aymara are helpful in some areas, along with Spanish.

There are also wide varieties and dialects of Spanish. As an outcome, learners may get caught up in struggles to remember new words, phrases, and even pronunciations. Still, it is pretty much all Spanish!

Spanish is not much favored in Brazil as Portuguese is the country’s only official language. But since Portuguese are like Spanish. Hence, your Spanish skills help you understand a few things quickly.

Like Portuguese, Spanish is spoken by nearly half of the South American population.

6. Spanish speakers in Africa

Unlikeisn’tcountries of the Western Hemisphere, Africa does not have many Spanish-speaking citizens.

Equatorial Guinea (República de Guinea Ecuatorial) is the only African country with an impressive number. This is because this has been the official and national language since 1944.

Equatoguinean Spanish, a regional variant of Spanish, is the lingua franca of the diverse ethnic group of the country. Close to 70% of the habitants speak Spanish, and most are fluent, especially around the capital, Malabo.

It shares many resemblances with the Spanish of Spain and Latin America. Yet it differs vastly in accents, words, and expressions.

This resulted from the country’s geographical isolation. Also, the influence of German, Portuguese, French, and other local languages impacted over the last few centuries.

There are also several Spanish-speaking people in Morocco and Western Sahara. Again, it is due to its history and close location.

So these are a few places in Africa where you can test your Spanish language skills.

6. Spanish speakers in Asia

Spanish isn’t widespread in Asia, and it never was actually. 

In the 16th century, Spanish explorers extended their footprints and colonized the Philippines.

Until 1973, Spanish was the official language of the Government. Thus, it has historically been a more widely understood language here.

While Filipino is the official and most widely spoken language, many also speak Spanish as a second or third language.

Filipino and hundreds of indigenous languages form thousands of Spanish loanwords. E.g., Spanish is the source of about 20% to 30% of words in Tagalog. Spanish orthography has notably influenced the spelling system in most of these languages.

Today, approximately 1 million people speak Chavacano, a Spanish-based creole developed in the Philippines. Many schools also teach Spanish.

Beyond the Philippines, there aren’t a considerable number of Spanish speakers. Most of them are learners. They studied and gained proficiency and certifications like Spanish DELE and SIELE.

Explore the world of Spanish

I hope this blog inspired you to learn Spanish or to continue learning it. Knowing all the places, Spanish can take you places.

So what’s holding you back from diving into your next Spanish lesson?

If you’re interested in Spanish classes in India, check out Instituto Hispania courses designed per the DELE, DIE, telc, and SIELE exams.

And if you can’t get enough of Spanish and want to learn more now, check out our other blog posts. It can surely help you explore an intriguing world of everything Spanish.

Do you wish to share your thoughts on this topic? Write in the comment below.

State of the Spanish language in the world in 2020

December 23, 2020

Antwerp — Lliewe Vangehuchten — Spanish is the mother tongue of almost 489 million people. This is slightly less than 4% more than in 2015. If we add Spanish speakers as a second or foreign language, we reach a total of 585 million people, or 7.5% of the world’s population.

With these numbers, Spanish is the second most spoken mother tongue in the world, after Mandarin Chinese. nine0011

Demographers predict that the number of Spanish speakers will grow steadily over the next 50 years, even outside countries where Spanish is the official language, although the growth is projected to be less than previous reports (706 million speakers by 2050 instead of 756 million ).

Third most spoken language

By 2060, the United States will be the second most spoken Spanish country, preceded only by Mexico. A total of 27.5% of the US population will be of Hispanic origin. Already (2020) the Hispanic community is the largest ethnic minority in the US. nine0011

Spanish is by far the most studied second or foreign language in American education. There are three times more students learning Spanish than all other foreign languages ​​combined.

There is also a lot of enthusiasm for learning Spanish in other parts of the world. Over 22 million people worldwide are currently learning Spanish as a second or foreign language, 1 million more than in 2015.

If we add all the people who study Spanish for native Spanish speakers, then Spanish is the third most spoken language in the world after English and Chinese. nine0011

In Belgium, more than 45,000 people are currently studying Spanish in secondary, university and evening education.


In addition, from an economic point of view, Spanish occupies an important place. In total, Spanish speakers account for 9% of global purchasing power and generate nearly 7% of global GDP. Thus, Spanish is the second largest language in the international economy, after the undisputed business lingua franca, English. nine0011


Spanish is also a player of interest in the international political arena. In the United Nations, Spanish is the third most widely used language after English and French, and in the European Union, Spanish is the fourth language, after the languages ​​already mentioned and after German.

Brexit is expected to increase the relative importance of the Spanish language.


Scientifically speaking, Spanish is the second most widely used language in academic publications after English. A total of 4.3% of scientific text production comes from a Spanish-speaking country, mainly covering medical, social sciences, and humanities. An important caveat here is that eight times as many publications come from the Anglo-Saxon world.


On the Internet, Spanish is the third largest language after English and Chinese, but on social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. ) it is the second largest language, also in terms of Wikipedia searches . Hispanics in the US, in particular, prefer Spanish and English on digital platforms. nine0011

The state of the Spanish language

These figures and many other relevant data on the position and importance of the Spanish language in the world can be consulted in detail in El Espanyol: una lengua viva, annual report of the Instituto Cervantes, an organization that wants to promote Spanish language at the international level. With this report, which draws on demographic, socioeconomic and cultural variables, the Instituto Cervantes has closely followed the evolution of the Spanish language around the world since 2010. nine0011

Positive trends, but also challenges

From 2010 to 2020, important positive trends can be observed, such as an increase of almost 60% in the number of learners of Spanish as a second or foreign language and a corresponding increase in language tourism, and — compared to French and German — the growing importance of the Spanish language in the main international forums.

However, the report also highlights important issues, especially in terms of the relative importance of the Spanish language, which will decline to 6.3% of the world’s population by 2100, the limited economic weight of Spanish-speaking countries, and the subordination of Spanish in leading scientific publications compared to with English, although Spanish also leaves behind French and German. nine0011

El Espanyol report: una lengua viva (2020) can be downloaded free of charge in pdf format (), but only in Spanish.

Information in Dutch and French can be requested from the Instituto Cervantes in Brussels or from Prof. Dr. Lieve Wangehuchten, titular Spanish for academic and professional purposes at the University of Antwerp ([email protected]).

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The US Hispanic population reached 45.5 million last year, accounting for 15% of the country’s population, Reuters reports citing the US Census Bureau.

According to the Census Bureau, there are 199.1 million white Americans in the United States, and 102.5 million members of diverse ethnic minorities. The most international states are Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas, California and the US capital, Washington.

Back in 2003 Hispanic population has become the largest ethnic minority in the United States, ahead of African Americans, whose number in 2007. amounted to 40.7 million people.

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