List of territorial entities where Portuguese is an official language

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Global spread of Portuguese.
  Native language
  Official and administrative language
  Cultural or secondary language
  Portuguese-speaking minorities
  Portuguese-based creole

The following is a list of sovereign states and territories where Portuguese is an official or de facto language.

Countries and territories where Portuguese is official[edit]

Country Population (2014 est.)[1] More information
Brazil Brazil 202,656,788 Portuguese in Brazil
Mozambique Mozambique 24,692,144 Portuguese in Mozambique
Angola Angola 19,088,106 Portuguese in Angola
Portugal Portugal 10,813,834 Portuguese in Portugal
Guinea-Bissau Guinea-Bissau 1,693,398 Portuguese in Guinea-Bissau
East Timor East Timor 1,201,542 Portuguese in East Timor
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea 722,254 Portuguese in Equatorial Guinea
Macau Macau 587,914 Portuguese in Macau
Cape Verde Cape Verde 538,535 Portuguese in Cape Verde

São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomé and Príncipe

190,428 Portuguese in São Tomé and Príncipe
Total 270,963,252

Spread of Portuguese[edit]

During a period of Portuguese discoveries and through a large colonial empire, the language was spread to areas in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Portuguese-based creole languages also developed during this era.

Today, Portuguese continues to thrive outside the Lusophone world through the presence of large expat communities of Brazilians, Portuguese, Cape Verdeans, and Angolans found throughout the world.



Portuguese is spoken as a first language in Portugal by nearly all of the nation's 10.6 million people.[2] The ancestor of modern Portuguese, Galician-Portuguese, began developing in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, in an area encompassing present-day northern-Portugal and Galicia, at around the 9th century. Modern Portuguese started developing in the early 16th century.

Rest of Europe[edit]

The Galician language spoken natively in Galicia, Spain is the closest related language to Portuguese and is co-official with Spanish in the region. Portuguese-speaking immigrants from Portugal, Brazil, Portuguese-speaking Africa and Macau have also settled in Andorra (around 15 000 speakers), Belgium, France (around 500 000 speakers), Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

The Americas[edit]


With a population of over 205 million, Brazil is by far the world's largest Portuguese-speaking nation and the only one in the Americas.[3] Portuguese was introduced during the Portuguese colonial period. Portuguese has also served as a lingua franca between the various ethnic groups in Brazil and the native Amerindian population[4] after the Jesuits were expelled from every Portuguese territory and the languages associated with them prohibited.

Portuguese is the first language of the overwhelming majority of Brazilians, at 99.5%.[5] It is followed by various German dialects, such as Riograndenser Hunsrückisch, at a distant 1.94% (co-official status).[6][7]

The form of Portuguese spoken in Brazil is a little different from that spoken in Europe, with differences in vocabulary and grammar that can be compared to the differences between American and British English,[9] but with the phonology and prosody more distinct to[clarification needed] each other (on a slightly larger scale than that of the Metropolitan and Québécois varieties of French);[citation needed] nevertheless, European and Brazilian Portuguese are completely mutually intelligible. The vast majority of Brazilian characteristics are also found in some rural, remote Portuguese registers (or the African and Asian ones, indicating an Old Portuguese feature lost in Europe), [10] while nearly all distinctive European characteristics can be found in any major dialect of Brazil (such as fluminense, specially its carioca sociolect, and florianopolitano), due to a stronger or more recent Portuguese and other European immigration.

Migration from Brazil also led to the vast majority of Portuguese speakers in the Southern Cone (especially Uruguay with portunhol da pampa), Paraguay (see brasiguayos), other regions of South America (especially Bolivia) except Venezuela, Japan(see Brazilians in Japan 400,000 and dekasegi, official numbers do not include second generation Portuguese speakers and naturalized citizens), South Korea, the Philippines (see Brazilians in the Philippines), and Israel (see Aliyah from Latin America in the 2000s).

Rest of South America[edit]

Although Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in South America, it has the largest population, area and economy on the continent. Thus, the South American trading bloc Mercosul uses Portuguese alongside Spanish as its working languages. A Spanish influenced Portuguese dialect is spoken in the northern Uruguayan border area with Brazil and is a hybrid dialect of Spanish and Portuguese. Given the proximity and trading relations between Portuguese speaking Brazil, and its respective Spanish speaking nations, Portuguese is offered as a foreign (or obligatory) 2nd language course at most schools in Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela and Bolivia.

In Venezuela and Guyana, there are communities of Portuguese immigrants (mostly Madeirans) and their descendants who speak Portuguese as their native language.[11]

North America[edit]

There are a little under 1.5 million Portuguese Americans and over 300,000 Brazilian Americans living in the United States,[12][13] and Portuguese is spoken by over 730,000 people at home in the country.[14] There are over 500,000 people of Portuguese descent living in Canada; however, most of the community's population now speaks English or French as their primary language. Also an primary language along with English in the British Overseas Territories of Bermuda. [15]



Portuguese is the sole official language of Angola, and 90% of the population professes fluency in the language.[16] Additionally, 75% of Angolan households speak Portuguese as their primary language. For all intents and purposes, Portuguese has become the quasi national language of Angola. Native Bantu languages have been significantly influenced by Portuguese through loanwords.[16]


Portuguese is the sole official language of Mozambique and serves as a lingua franca between the various ethnic groups in the country. Slightly over 40% of the population are native speakers of Portuguese, while 70% professes fluency.[17] Most of Mozambican media is available solely in Portuguese, and the country receives several Portuguese and Brazilian television stations.


Despite being the sole official language, only 50% of the population professes fluency in Portuguese.[18] However, a Portuguese-based creole called Guinea-Bissau Creole (Kriol) is spoken by the nearly the whole population.

Cape Verde[edit]

Similar to Guinea-Bissau, although Portuguese is the only official language, a Portuguese-based creole known as Cape Verdean Creole is spoken by the majority of the population. Most Cape Verdeans are fluent in Portuguese as well. Education and media are available largely in standard European Portuguese only.

São Tomé and Príncipe[edit]

In São Tomé and Príncipe, Portuguese is by far the most spoken language, with around 95% of the population speaking it at home or professing fluency.[a] A Portuguese-based creole called Forro is also spoken.

Equatorial Guinea[edit]

Equatorial Guinea was a Spanish colony between 1778 and 1968 and was originally a group of Portuguese colonies between 1474 and 1778. A Portuguese creole is spoken by locals on the island of Annobón.

In 2007, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema announced a decision to make Portuguese the third official language of the country after Spanish and French. This was in an effort by the government to improve its communications, trade, and bilateral relations with Portuguese-speaking countries.[19] Despite government promotions, Portuguese remains rarely spoken in Equatorial Guinea, but increased political and trade relations with Portuguese-speaking nations i.e., Brazil, Angola, Portugal, will soon increase the numbers of Portuguese speakers in this country. News, sports, and entertainment media in Portuguese will undoubtedly also facilitate increased comprehension.[20] The majority of the population (~90%)[citation needed] still speaks Spanish as its primary language, and Spanish is still the administrative language and that of education, while French is the second official language.[21]

Rest of Africa[edit]

Large Portuguese-speaking communities are found in Senegal, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia due to large immigration from the Lusophone African countries. Portuguese is also being taught as a second language in the schools of these countries as part of the curriculum.

Asia & Oceania[edit]

East Timor[edit]

Portuguese is co-official with Tetum in East Timor and was introduced during the colonial period. A little under 39% of the population professes fluency in Portuguese. The local Tetum language has been heavily influenced by Portuguese through loanwords, and code-switching between the two languages is common.[22]


A sign in Macau translated in both official languages, Portuguese and Cantonese

Due to the one country, two systems policy of China regarding its special administrative regions, Macau is able to retain Portuguese as an official language alongside Cantonese. Portuguese was first introduced to Macau when Portuguese traders established a permanent settlement there in 1537. Despite being a Portuguese colony for over four centuries, the Portuguese language was never widely spoken in Macau and remained limited to administration and higher education and was spoken primarily by the Portuguese colonists, Macanese people of mixed ancestry and elites of pure Chinese blood. As a consequence, when Macau was handed back to China in 1999, Portuguese did not have a strong presence like English had in Hong Kong and continued its decline which began when Portuguese rule was still occurring. Ironically, it was only after Portuguese rule ended when the Portuguese language in Macau began to see an increase in speakers due to China's increased trading relations with Lusophone countries. Portuguese is being taught as a second language in many big cities in China, especially in the territory of Macau. Today, about 3% of Macau's population speaks Portuguese as a first language and 7% of the population professes fluency.[23] A Portuguese creole called Macanese (Patuá) was spoken by Macanese of mixed ancestry but is near extinction today.

Goa (India)[edit]

Portuguese is present in the enclave of Goa, which was a Portuguese colony until 1961. Although it was the sole official language during Portuguese colonial rule, it is mostly spoken by the elderly and educated populations today and is not an official language. Rather, Goa's official state language is Konkani, which has however picked up some Portuguese vocabulary as a legacy of Portuguese influence. Attempts to make Konkani be written in the Portuguese alphabet and possibilities of reintroducing Portuguese as a co-official language of Goa have been made in recent years.[24]

Portuguese rule in Daman and Diu has also left a smaller Portuguese influence on the territory. A Portuguese-based creole called Língua da Casa is spoken in the territory. As a result of the renewed interest in the Portuguese language and culture, the Portuguese language is making an impressive comeback. Portuguese is still taught in some schools in Goa.

Portuguese were also in the area of Vasai (present), previously Bassein or Bacaim since 1560 until 1739. Though the Portuguese were defeated by Marathas, there are some words which are used by the locals which are words in the Portuguese language. Today there is a large Catholic population, and many churches built during those days are still being used for worship.

Rest of Asia[edit]

Portuguese is spoken in Japan among returned immigrants (500,000) or migrant workers from Brazil known as dekasegi.[25] Portuguese loanwords are also present in the Japanese language due to trading relations between Japan and the Portuguese Empire in the 16th century.

In Malacca, Malaysia, a Portuguese creole known as Papiá Kristang or Cristão is still spoken by some of the Eurasian population.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 99.8% declared speaking Portuguese in the 1991 census


  1. ^ "The World Factbook -- Field Listing - Population - CIA". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2015-03-07. 
  2. ^ "Special Eurobarometer 243 "Europeans and their Languages"" (PDF). European Commission. 2006. p. 6. Retrieved 11 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "Geography of Brazil". Central Intelligence Agency. 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-03. 
  4. ^ Darcy Ribeiro. O Povo Brasileiro, Vol. 07, 1997 (1997).
  5. ^ "Portuguese language in Brazil". Retrieved 2012-07-23. 
  6. ^ "Hunsrückish". Ethnologue. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  7. ^ "Standard German". Ethnologue. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  8. ^ "Olivet Second Most Spoken Languages Around the World". Retrieved 29 March 2016. 
  9. ^ Logan Gaspar (2006-08-07). Portuguese For Dummies. Wiley. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-470-04973-0. 
  10. ^ Anthony Julius Naro and Maria Marta Pereira Scherre. Origens do Português Brasileiro. 
  11. ^ "Portuguese emigration from Madeira to British Guiana". 2000-05-07. Retrieved 2015-08-12. 
  12. ^ [1] Archived October 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "United States - Selected Population Profile in the United States (Brazilian (360-364))". 2008 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  14. ^ Population: Ancestry, Language Spoken At Home, U.S. Census Bureau, retrieved 2011-12-27 
  15. ^ "Ethnic Origin, Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses and Sex for the Population of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census - 20% Sample Data". Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  16. ^ a b "A língua portuguesa". Retrieved 2015-08-12. 
  17. ^ "A língua portuguesa". Retrieved 2015-08-12. 
  18. ^ "A língua portuguesa". Retrieved 2015-08-12. 
  19. ^ "Equatorial Guinea Adds Portuguese as the Country's Third Official Language". PRNewsWire. 2011-10-14. Retrieved 2010-11-15. 
  20. ^ Público (Lisbon), 2012-07-20
  21. ^ "VILLAGES AND CULTURES - Official Web Page of the Government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea". Retrieved 2015-08-12. 
  22. ^ "Timor Leste, Tetum, Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia or English?". April 20, 2012. 
  23. ^ Leach, Michael (2007), "talking Portuguese; China and East Timor", Arena Magazine, retrieved 2011-05-18 
  24. ^ "Konkani:The Tussule over the script". Navhind Times. Retrieved 18 October 2008. 
  25. ^ [2] Archived January 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.