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Spread of the Spanish Language

Map No.


Spanish is a Romance language (derived from Latin), and there are roughly 362 million first-language speakers in at least 39 territories. As well as being the primary language of Spain, it has been established since the 16th century as the dominant language of most of southern and central America, and there are also 28 million first-language speakers in the United States.

Modern Spanish originated from the region of Castile, hence the alternative name of Castilian.


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Technical Notes

Territory size shows the proportion of all people who speak Spanish as a first language that live in that territory. The map removes the countries where Spanish is dominant. This map therefore only shows 0.4% of all speakers of Spanish. The territories omitted are United States, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Bolivia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Puerto Rico.

The maps in the 2005 language data series are made from data on the number of people speaking a language as their first-language, that is the language they would use at home.

Data sources
This map uses data several sources, the main one being Ethnologue (15th Edition, 2005). Estimating the number of speakers of a language is fraught with difficulty on several levels (last accessed January 2009). We aim to map as complete data as possible and therefore estimate data for missing values. The language numbers we use and publish are rough estimates, and should not be taken as definitive. In some cases, missing data for very small territories is not used in the cartogram and that area is therefore omitted in the map.

Further notes on the data, as well as all modifications to the original data source are noted in our data sheets.

Download data file

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