Find out information about the Spanish language situation in the world. Currently more than 400 million people in the world today who speak Spanish as a first language.
The expansion of speakers in the world who benefit from speaking Spanish can be attributed to various factors we will mention next. During the 1980's, Spain joined international organizations like O.T.A.N (North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO) and the European Union, and the Spanish language was only studied by Philologists - specialists who were dedicated to the detailed study of a language and its literature. However, this all changed after Spain became an indefinite member of the above mentioned organizations and many other Spanish-speaking countries also began to develop.
According to the latest data provided by the Cervantes Institute, there are currently more than 400 million people in the world today who speak Spanish as a first language. The data, however, keeps changing as the number keeps growing.
In order for the readers to get an idea of what this means, the Summer Institute of Linguistics pointed out in 1986 that the number of Spanish speakers in Mexico was 86,211,000. They calculated that in the year 2001, the number would be 101,000,000. In 1986, Spain was at 28,173,000; and today, Spain exceeds the 44,000,000. Data must always be considered as being on the rise.
The majority of Spanish-speaking nations also coexist with other minority languages: In America, for example, there's the Mayan, the Guaraní, the Aymará, and the Quechua. But Spanish continues its process of expansion among the speakers of these indigenous languages due to its double condition as official language and national language.
In the case of Africa's Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Spanish is the language used in trade between the different native languages that coexist in its territories. Marrakesh in Western Sahara, which used to be a Spanish colony, has about 20,000 Spanish speakers in its territory.
Also present in Asia are about 3,000 people who consider Spanish their mother tongue. The Philippines maintain the Spanish language as a cultural referent since their first written texts are in this language. An attempt can be noted on the party of the authorities and the country's residents, who are willing to recuperate and preserve this valued part of their cultural history. Because of this, the number of students who choose Spanish as a second language has increased immensely over the last few years.
It is calculated that the United States has about 50,000,000 Spanish speakers. The increase of Spanish speakers can be based mostly upon the recent wave of Spanish speaking immigrants, and the need of the 3rd U.S. born generation of Hispanic immigrants wanting to recover their almost forgotten mother tongue. This has placed the country second after Mexico and ahead of Spain in numbers of Spanish speakers in its population.
Jean-Louis Calvet (Jean-Louis Calvet, Pour une écologie des langues du mond, Plon, París, 1999) declares 3 conditions of the state of being of Spanish:
- Hispanidad: Those countries in which Spanish is the mother tongue and a symbol of identity.
- Hispanofonía: Those countries whose inhabitants may use Spanish although they generally do not, such as the United States, Equatorial Guinea and the Philippines. Some places in the United States can classify under the term Hispanidad. Israel and some cities of Africa and the Near East which maintain their Sephardic communities - descendants of Spanish Jews who were expelled in 1492 - are also a part of this group.
- Hispanoproclividad: The countries fitting this category choose Spanish as a second language for practical reasons: Brazil because of its Mercosur agreement and development or China because of its business prospects with South America.
Above all, the panorama looks promising for Spanish. Everyone dedicated to the teaching and diffusion of Spanish hopes that this third group continues to grow and make Spanish the second most studied language in the world.