Spanish (español or castellano, lit. 'Castilian') is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family that evolved from colloquial spoken Latin in the Iberian Peninsula of Europe. Today, it is a global language with nearly 500 million native speakers, mainly in the Americas and Spain. Spanish is the official language of 20 countries. It is the world's second-most spoken native language after Mandarin Chinese; the world's fourth-most spoken language overall after English, Mandarin Chinese, and Hindi; and the world's most widely spoken Romance language. The largest population of native speakers is in Mexico.
|493 million native|
592 million total (2021)
99 million speakers with limited capacity (22 million students)
|Latin (Spanish alphabet)|
|Signed Spanish (Mexico, Spain and presumably elsewhere)|
Official language in
|Regulated by||Association of Spanish Language Academies|
(Real Academia Española and 22 other national Spanish language academies)
Spanish as official language.
Unofficial, but spoken by more than 25% of the population.
Unofficial, but spoken by 10–20% of the population.
Unofficial, but spoken by 5–9% of the population.
Spanish-based creole languages spoken.
Spanish is part of the Ibero-Romance group of languages, which evolved from several dialects of Vulgar Latin in Iberia after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century. The oldest Latin texts with traces of Spanish come from mid-northern Iberia in the 9th century, and the first systematic written use of the language happened in Toledo, a prominent city of the Kingdom of Castile, in the 13th century. Spanish colonialism in the Early Modern Period spurred on the introduction of the language to overseas locations, most notably to the Americas.
As a Romance language, Spanish is a descendant of Latin and has one of the smaller degrees of difference from it (about 20%) alongside Sardinian and Italian. Around 75% of modern Spanish vocabulary is derived from Latin, including Latin borrowings from Ancient Greek. Alongside English and French, it is also one of the most taught foreign languages throughout the world. Spanish does not feature prominently as a scientific language; however, it is better represented in areas like humanities and social sciences. Spanish is also the third most used language on internet websites after English and Chinese.
Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, and it is also used as an official language by the European Union, the Organization of American States, the Union of South American Nations, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the African Union and many other international organizations.