List of countries where Spanish is an official language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Countries and territories where the Spanish language holds official status.

The following is a list of sovereign states and dependent territories where Spanish is an official language, the national language or the de facto official language.

Spanish as official language or national language[edit]

Spanish is the majority language in 21 sovereign states and several dependent territories, totaling around 440 million people.[1]

In these countries and territories, Spanish is the main or only language of communication of the vast majority of the population; official documents are written chiefly or solely in that language; and it is taught in schools and utilized as the primary medium of instruction as part of the official curriculum.

Country/Territory Status Population
Regulatory body More information
 Mexico De facto[3] 120,286,655 Academia Mexicana de la Lengua Mexican Spanish
 Philippinesa De jure[4] 100,981,437 Academia Filipina de la Lengua Española Philippine Spanish
 Colombia De jure[5] 48,400,388 Academia Colombiana de la Lengua Colombian Spanish
 Spainb De jure[6] 47,737,941 Real Academia Española Peninsular Spanish
 Argentina De facto[7] 43,024,374 Academia Argentina de Letras Rioplatense Spanish
 Peruc De jure[8] 30,147,935 Academia Peruana de la Lengua Peruvian Coast Spanish
 Venezuela De jure[9] 28,868,486 Academia Venezolana de la Lengua Venezuelan Spanish
 Chile De facto[10] 17,363,894 Academia Chilena de la Lengua Chilean Spanish
 Ecuadord De jure[11] 15,654,411 Academia Ecuatoriana de la Lengua Ecuadorian Spanish
 Guatemala De jure[12] 14,647,083 Academia Guatemalteca de la Lengua Guatemalan Spanish
 Cuba De jure[13] 11,047,251 Academia Cubana de la Lengua Cuban Spanish
 Boliviae De jure[14] 10,631,486 Academia Boliviana de la Lengua Bolivian Spanish
 Dominican Republic De jure[15] 10,349,741 Academia Dominicana de la Lengua Dominican Spanish
Honduras Honduras De jure[16] 8,598,561 Academia Hondureña de la Lengua Honduran Spanish
 Paraguayf De jure[17] 6,703,860 Academia Paraguaya de la Lengua Española Paraguayan Spanish
 El Salvador De jure[18] 6,125,512 Academia Salvadoreña de la Lengua Salvadoran Spanish
 Nicaragua De facto[19] 5,848,641 Academia Nicaragüense de la Lengua Nicaraguan Spanish
 Costa Rica De jure[20] 4,755,234 Academia Costarricense de la Lengua Costa Rican Spanish
 Puerto Ricog De jure[21] 3,620,897 Academia Puertorriqueña de la Lengua Española Puerto Rican Spanish
 Panama De jure[22] 3,608,431 Academia Panameña de la Lengua Panamanian Spanish
 Uruguay De facto[23] 3,332,972 Academia Nacional de Letras Uruguayan Spanish
 Equatorial Guineah De jure[24] 1,722,254 Academia Ecuatoguineana de la Lengua Española Equatoguinean Spanish
Total 541,302,353 Association of Spanish Language Academies

a In the Philippines, Spanish and Arabic are recognized in the constitution as optional languages, while Filipino is the national language and along with English are the official languages. In addition, 19 other languages are recognized as official in the regions they predominate.

b In Spain, Spanish is the sole official language at the national level, while the languages of Basque, Catalan/Valencian, and Galician are co-official alongside Spanish in certain sub-national regions.

c In Peru, Spanish is the sole official language at the national level while Quechua and Aymara hold co-official status in selected regions.

d In Ecuador, Spanish is the sole official language at the national level while the Kichwa (Northern Quechua) and Shuar languages hold co-official status in selected regions.

e In Bolivia, the national constitution recognizes Spanish and various indigenous languages of Bolivia as official at the national level, though Spanish is predominant nationwide.

f In Paraguay, Spanish and the indigenous Guaraní language are recognized as co-official at the national level and both are widely used in society.

g Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the U.S. where Spanish and English are the official languages[21] and Spanish is the primary language.

h In Equatorial Guinea, the Spanish, French, and Portuguese languages all hold official status at the national level, though Spanish is the primary language in the public sphere and several Bantu languages are used at home and family settings.

Population of the Spanish speaking countries (+ Puerto Rico) in 2011

Commonly used language[edit]

Though not an official language at the national level, Spanish is regularly spoken by significant minority populations in each of the nations and territories noted below. In each, public services and information are widely available in Spanish, as are various forms of printed and broadcast media.

Spanish has been spoken in the United States for several centuries, particularly in the Southwest and Florida, which were all once part of New Spain. Spanish is the most studied foreign language in United States schools and is spoken as a native tongue by 41 million people, plus an additional 11 million fluent second-language speakers.[25] It is also de facto official in the U.S. state of New Mexico along with English and is increasingly used alongside English nationwide in business and politics.[26] With over 50 million native speakers and second language speakers, the United States now has the second largest Spanish-speaking population in the world after Mexico.[27] In the United States, it is regulated by the North American Academy of the Spanish Language.

The Spanish language is not official but also holds a special status (in the education system, the media, and some official documents) in the Principality of Andorra and the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, both of which share land borders with Spain.[28] Spanish has no official recognition in the Central American nation of Belize, a Commonwealth realm where English is the official national language. However, the country shares land borders with Spanish-speaking Mexico and Guatemala and, per the 2000 Belizean census, Spanish is spoken by a sizable portion of the population there.[29]

Country Population
Total speakers Percentage Spanish-speaking
 Andorra 85,458 29,907 35%
 Belize 340,844 106,795 31%
 Gibraltar 29,185 23,857 81%
 Trinidad 1,223,916 61,000 5% [30]
 United States 318,892,103 52,000,000 16%

Spanish-based creole language[edit]

The Spanish-based creole language of Papiamentoa is the official language in Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.[citation needed] Chavacano is spoken in the Philippines, and Palenquero is spoken in Colombia; but neither is the official language in their respective countries. Judaeo-Spanish (better known as Ladino) is still spoken by some Sephardi Jews.

Country Creole language Estimated speakers[31] Year Status
 Philippines Chavacano 689,000[32] 1992 Regional.[citation needed]
 Bonaire and  Curaçao Papiamento 185,155[32] 1981 Official.[citation needed]
 Israel Judaeo-Spanish 96,000[citation needed] N/A Not official.[citation needed]
 Aruba Papiamento 60,000[citation needed] N/A Official.[citation needed]

a Papiamento is considered both a Spanish- and Portuguese-based creole language.[33][34]

Optional language[edit]

Spanish was an official language of the Philippines from the beginning of the Hispanic period in 1565 and through independence until a constitutional change in 1973. However, President Ferdinand Marcos had Spanish redesigned as an official language under Presidential Decree No. 156, dated 15 March 1973 and Spanish remained official until 1987, when it was re-designated as a voluntary and optional auxiliary language.[35]

On 8 August 2007, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced that the Philippine government asked help from the Spanish Government in her plan to reintroduce Spanish as a required subject in the Philippine school system.[36] By 2012, the language was a compulsory subject at only a very select number of secondary schools.[37] Despite government promotions of Spanish, less than 0.5% of the population are able to speak Spanish at least proficiently.[38]

While Spanish is designated as an optional government language in the Philippines, its usage is very limited and not present in everyday life.[39] In the country, Spanish is regulated by the Philippine Academy of the Spanish Language.

International organizations where Spanish is official[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  3. ^ Mexico does not have an official language at the federal level [1]; however, Spanish is spoken by the majority.
  4. ^ [2], Art. 14-7
  5. ^ Constitution of Colombia, Art. 10
  6. ^ Spanish Constitution, Art. 3-1
  7. ^ The Argentine Constitution does not establish Spanish as an official language.
  8. ^ Constitution of Peru, Art. 48
  9. ^ Constitution of Venezuela, Art. 9
  10. ^ The Constitution of Chile does not establish Spanish as an official language. However, Chilean legislation establishes that schools must teach students to communicate in the "Castilian language" (General Law on Education (Articles 29 and 30), Chile Library of Congress.)
  11. ^ Constitution of Ecuador, Art. 2
  12. ^ Constitution of Guatemala, Art. 143
  13. ^ Constitution of Cuba, Art. 2
  14. ^ Constitution of Bolivia, Art. 5
  15. ^ The Constitution of the Dominican Republic establish Spanish as it official language.
  16. ^ Constitution of Honduras, Art. 6
  17. ^ Constitution of Paraguay, Art. 140
  18. ^ Constitution of El Salvador, Art. 62
  19. ^ The Constitution of Nicaragua does not establish Spanish as an official language.
  20. ^ Constitution of Costa Rica, Art. 76
  21. ^ a b Constitution of Puerto Rico, Art. 3, Section 5: It is mandatory to be able to read and write in either English or Spanish in order to be a member of the Legislative Assembly.
  22. ^ Constitution of Panama, Art. 7
  23. ^ The Constitution of Uruguay does not establish Spanish as an official language.
  24. ^ Constitution of Equatorial Guinea, Art. 4
  25. ^ "US now has more Spanish speakers than Spain". Retrieved 2016-05-09. 
  26. ^ [3]
  27. ^ "Más 'speak spanish' que en España". Retrieved 2007-10-06.  (Spanish)
  28. ^ <Constitution of Gibraltar
  29. ^ "Population Census, Major Findings" (PDF). Belize: Central Statistical Office, Ministry of Budget Management. 2000. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  30. ^!ut/p/a1/jdDBCoJAEAbgp_HqjIqR3TyYqUFoVLqXUDO1dFd0lR4_9SaWNTCHGb4fhgECPhAadnka8pzRsBhmsro6royqpSl4cFFD2bMkA1VHMT2pB8EEeOa2B4Yq7Zyzgoj_5fFL6T_zx4TCBcgis3EG5meOYOEOG0hasGj8SaDTSFmnQOrkntRJLbZ1v844r5qNgALe2vg5dMrEmJUCfopkrOHgTyVU5cl_WQ-16Pb6GyFokU8!/dl5/d5/L2dBISEvZ0FBIS9nQSEh/?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/gortt/wcm/connect/GorTT%20Web%20Content/ttconnect/home/about+t+and+t/general+information/language
  31. ^ "Ethnologue". Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  32. ^ a b Número de hispanohablantes en países y territorios donde el español no es lengua oficial, Instituto Cervantes.
  33. ^ Attila Narin (June 1998). "Papiamentu Facts". Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  34. ^ Dalby, Andrew (1998). Dictionary of Languages. Bloomsbury Publishing plc. p. 489. ISBN 0-7475-3117-X. 
  35. ^ Article XIV, Sec 7: For purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English. The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein. Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis.
  36. ^ "La presidenta filipina pedirá ayuda a España para oficializar el español" (in Spanish). MSN Noticias. Archived from the original on 2007-10-26. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  37. ^ Legaspi, Amita O. (3 July 2012). "PNoy (President Benigno Aquino III) and Spain's Queen Sofia welcome return of Spanish language in Philippine schools". GMA News. 
  38. ^ Medium projection, Philippine Statistics Authority, 2010 
  39. ^ Constitution of the Philippines, Art. 14