List of countries where Spanish is an official language
The following is a list of countries where Spanish is an official language, plus a number of countries where Spanish, or any language closely related to it, is an important or significant language.
Official or national language
Spanish is the official language (either by law or de facto) in 20 sovereign states and one dependent territory, totaling around 442 million people. It is additionally the main official language in Equatorial Guinea.
In these countries and territories, Spanish is the main or mostly used 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.
d In Bolivia, the national constitution recognizes Spanish and various indigenous languages of Bolivia as official at the national level, though Spanish is predominant nationwide.
e In Paraguay, Spanish and the indigenous Guaraní are recognized as co-official at the national level and both are widely used in society.
g 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 while Fang, Bube, Kombe, and other Bantu languages, as well as an English-based creole, are used at home and family settings. See Equatorial Guinea#Languages.
Significant minority language
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.
|Total speakers||Percentage Spanish-speaking|
|United States of America||318,892,103||52,000,000||16%|
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 which shares land borders with Spain.
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 2010 Belizean census, Spanish is spoken by a sizable portion of the population; 30% claim Spanish as a mother tongue and about 50% of the population has working knowledge of the 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 British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, which share land borders with Spain.
Spanish has been spoken in the United States for several centuries in the Southwest and Florida, which were all once part of New Spain. However, today only a tiny minority of Spanish speakers in the US trace their language back to those times; the overwhelming majority of speakers come from recent immigration. Only in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado has Spanish maintained speaking communities uninterruptedly since colonial times.  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. Though not official, Spanish has a special status for education in the U.S. state of New Mexico.  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. Spanish is increasingly used alongside English nationwide in business and politics. In the United States, the language is regulated by the North American Academy of the Spanish Language.
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.
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. By 2012, the language was a compulsory subject at only a very select number of secondary schools. In spite of government promotion of Spanish, less than 0.5% of the population are able to speak Spanish at least proficiently.
While Spanish is designated as an optional government language in the Philippines, its usage is very limited and not present in everyday life. Despite this, Tagalog and other native Philippine languages incorporate a large number of Spanish loanwords, as a result of 300 years of Spanish influence. In the country, Spanish is regulated by the Philippine Academy of the Spanish Language.
Spanish is a secondary official language, alongside Arabic, in the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, a former Spanish colony and now a partially recognized state, most of whose territory is occupied by Morocco. Spanish is not a native language in that country.
There are a number of Spanish-based creole languages. Chavacano is spoken in Zamboanga City in the Philippines and is a regional language. Papiamento is the official language in Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao; it has been classified as either a Spanish-based or a Portuguese-based creole.
|Country||Creole language||Estimated speakers||Year||Status|
- United Nations (UN)
- European Union (EU)
- Union of South American Nations (UNASUR)
- African Union (AU)
- Central American Integration System (SICA)
- Latin American Parliament (Parlatino)
- United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
- Organization of American States (OAS)
- Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
- Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI)
- World Trade Organization (WTO)
- North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
- Andean Community of Nations (CAN)
- Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
- Latin American Integration Association (ALADI)
- Antarctic Treaty Secretariat (ATS)
- International Labour Organization (ILO)
- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
- International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
- Latin Union
- Pacific Alliance
- Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 31 August 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
- Mexico does not have an official language at the federal level ; however, Spanish is spoken by the majority.
- Constitution of Colombia, Art. 10
- Spanish Constitution, Art. 3-1
- The Argentine Constitution does not establish Spanish as an official language.
- Constitution of Peru, Art. 48
- Constitution of Venezuela, Art. 9
- 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.)
- Constitution of Ecuador, Art. 2
- Constitution of Guatemala, Art. 143
- Constitution of Cuba Archived 2 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine, Art. 2
- Constitution of Bolivia, Art. 5
- The Constitution of the Dominican Republic establish Spanish as it official language.
- Constitution of Honduras, Art. 6
- Constitution of Paraguay, Art. 140
- Constitution of El Salvador, Art. 62
- The Constitution of Nicaragua does not establish Spanish as an official language.
- Constitution of Costa Rica, Art. 76
- Constitution of Puerto Rico Archived 19 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine, 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.
- Constitution of Panama, Art. 7
- The Constitution of Uruguay does not establish Spanish as an official language.
- Constitution of Equatorial Guinea Archived 1 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Art. 4
- "Observatori de l'Institut d'Estudis Andorrans" (in Catalan). Archived from the original on 17 July 2007. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
- Statistical Institute of Belize: Belize Population and Housing Census 2010. Country Report. Belmopan 2013.
- <Constitution of Gibraltar Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Canfield, Delos Lincoln (1981). Spanish Pronunciation in the Americas. The University of Chicago Press. p. 80.
The main nuclei of Spanish speech in the United States are northern New Mexico / southern Colorado, the border territories from California through Texas, the Florida peninsula, New York City, and other large cities of the Northeast and Midwest. Only one of these, the New Mexico / Colorado dialect area, has maintained linguistic continuity since colonial days, and its speech goes back to about 1600.
- "US now has more Spanish speakers than Spain". theguardian.com. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
- Language Rights and New Mexico Statehood By the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
- "Más 'speak spanish' que en España". Retrieved 6 October 2007. (Spanish)
- 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.
- "La presidenta filipina pedirá ayuda a España para oficializar el español" (in Spanish). MSN Noticias. Archived from the original on 26 October 2007. Retrieved 30 August 2007.
- 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.
- Medium projection, Philippine Statistics Authority, 2010, archived from the original on 11 August 2011
- Constitution of the Philippines, Art. 14
- "Como saharauis queremos conservar el español". Lavozdegalicia.es. 13 March 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "EL ESPAñOL EN LOS CAMPAMENTOS DE REFUGIADOS SAHARAUIS (TINDUF, ARGELIA)" (PDF). Cvc.cervantes.es. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
- DepEd adds 7 languages to mother tongue-based education for Kinder to Grade 3. GMA News. July 13, 2013.
- Attila Narin (June 1998). "Papiamentu Facts". Retrieved 13 June 2008.
- Dalby, Andrew (1998). Dictionary of Languages. Bloomsbury Publishing plc. p. 489. ISBN 0-7475-3117-X.
- Topping, Donald (1973). Chamorro Reference Grammar. University Press of Hawaii. pp. 6 and 7. ISBN 978-0-8248-0269-1.
- "Ethnologue". Retrieved 13 June 2008.
- "Language" - Government of Aruba (official site) - 2010
- Migge, Bettina; Léglise, Isabelle; Bartens, Angela (2010). Creoles in Education: An Appraisal of Current Programs and Projects. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 268. ISBN 978-90-272-5258-6.
- "Tijdelijke wet officiële talen BES" (in Dutch). wetten.nl. Retrieved 24 October 2010.
Artikel 2: De officiële talen zijn het Engels, het Nederlands en het Papiamento. (English: Article 2: The official languages are English, Dutch and Papiamento)
- Número de hispanohablantes en países y territorios donde el español no es lengua oficial Archived 29 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Instituto Cervantes.
- "Nieuwsbrief 070313 – Papiaments officieel erkend". Nieuws.leidenuniv.nl. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- EJP | News | Western Europe | Judaeo-Spanish language revived Archived 29 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Ejpress.org (19 September 2005). Retrieved on 19 October 2011.