How Many People Speak Spanish in the World?
Can you imagine how many people speak Spanish in the world?
The numbers will surprise you.
Spanish is one of the top five most spoken languages in the world, thriving in the minds of travelers, business people, politicians, and language enthusiasts around the globe.
If the question of “how many people speak Spanish in the world?” has been racking your brain—I’m here to switch out the noise for some mind-blowing statistics, facts on Spanish-speaking countries, numbers of native speakers, and future projections of this influential language.
By the end of this article, you’ll be certain about how many people speak Spanish in the world, and your worldview will benefit from it!
How Many People Speak Spanish in the World?
As of today, around 580 million people in the world speak Spanish, which represents 7.6% of the entire population.
Of these, around 483 million are native Spanish speakers, making this language the world’s second mother tongue by number of speakers—after Mandarin Chinese, with 950 million native speakers (compared to English, in third place, with around 379 million native speakers).
Spanish is a national, multi-ethnic, and multicultural language of communication. In fact, according to the Cervantes Institute, it’s the language that is growing the most in the world (I’ll discuss the numbers later on in this post).
Thanks to these informative stats, we can agree with what the past director of the Cervantes Institute, Juan Manuel Bonet, said:
“People are not leaving the Americas like before. Now people want to work there and it draws people in. Spanish is very useful. It opens markets around the world.”
Keeping this quote in mind, let’s check out major Spanish-speaking countries and their statistics, so you can see for yourself how many people speak Spanish in the world!
Countries with Native and Non-Native Spanish Speakers
- Argentina (41 million)
- Bolivia (6.8 million)
- Chile (17 million)
- Colombia (46 million)
- Costa Rica (4 million)
- Ecuador (13.5 million)
- El Salvador (6 million)
- Mexico (121 million)
- Guatemala (13.7 million)
- Honduras (6 million)
- Nicaragua (5.3 million)
- Panama (2.5 million)
- Paraguay (6 million)
- Peru (26 million)
- Uruguay (3 million)
- Venezuela (21 million)
- Cuba (11 million)
- Dominican Republic (9 million)
- Puerto Rico (3 million)
- Spain (46 million)
- Equatorial Guinea (737,000)
Non-Native Spanish Speakers
On the other hand, about 110 countries around the world have non-native Spanish speakers. That is, people who don’t have Spanish as a mother tongue.
At this very second, people the world over are learning Spanish. In fact, according to the Cervantes Institute, Spanish is the most studied language at all levels of education in the United States, and is perceived as the most important language for the future in the United Kingdom. That’s a pretty influential status for any language!
What’s more—in regards to the European Union—France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Germany are the countries with the highest number of Spanish students.
But it’s not just in Europe. The teaching of Spanish as a second language in English-speaking countries such as Canada (with 90,000 students), Ireland (47,000 students), Australia (34,000) and New Zealand (36,000) has also grown significantly in recent years.
So, How Many People Speak Spanish in the World?
If we combine native and non-native Spanish speakers around the world, then approximately 130 out of 194 countries in the world have Spanish speakers.
That’s a mind-blowing 67% of the planet!
How Many People Speak Spanish in the World of the Future?
Let’s dive into some statistical projections.
As I mentioned above, around 7.6% of the world’s population speaks Spanish. According to the annual review of the Cervantes Institute, an additional 4.5 million people learn to speak Spanish on a yearly basis, meaning that this percentage (7.6%) is expected to increase one tenth (7.7%) globally by 2050.
A study carried out at the University of Alcalá found that in addition to the amount current native Spanish speakers, an extra 73.7 million people have some working knowledge of this language, and another 21.2 million people study Spanish as a foreign language.
In other words, a total of 572.6 million people are either studying Spanish, or know a little of it. This number is expected to rise to 754 million people by 2050, influenced by both the population growth in Spanish-speaking countries (provoking global Spanish learning for communication purposes), and the growing number of Spanish speakers in countries like the United States.
A final projection anticipates that in 2060, the United States will be the second Spanish-speaking country in the world after Mexico—projecting that almost one in three Americans will be Hispanic.
Impact of Spanish in the Economic and Publishing Fields
The Cervantes Institute emphasizes that Spanish is the fourth most powerful language in the world, behind French, Chinese, and English.
This is in accordance with factors like the dispersal and geographic extension, economic weight, its use as a spreader of knowledge, and its use in the field of diplomacy.
To be more specific, the contribution of all Spanish-speaking countries to the world’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product: the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one year) is 6.9%, a percentage higher than that generated by countries whose official language is French.
In the publishing field, Spanish is also in the global top rankings.
In fact, the International Publishers Association tells us that Spain is the third highest exporter of books, behind the United Kingdom and the United States.
What’s more, Spain—along with Argentina—are among the top 15 book producers in the world, collaborating in their influence of the world’s economy as well as the expansion of knowledge.
Surprisingly, (despite being a small country) Spain occupies the eighth place in the entire book production, and the ninth in the market value of the publishing sector.
Finally, the Cervantes Institute makes clear that the third most common language in magazine publications is Spanish, behind English and French.
In regards to the scientific culture, Spanish is the second language in which most scientific documents are published, right behind English.
Aside from our question of how many people speak Spanish in the world, now we should start asking how many people read Spanish in the world!
Join the Spanish-Speaking Club!
Knowing how many people speak Spanish in the world enriches our worldview and opens new outlets for fresh knowledge.
Spanish is a powerful language that opens doors, creates new relationships, and enlarges our networks. So, are you ready to join the club? Learning Spanish is fun, especially with native Spanish-speaking teachers who are friendly, engaging, and professionally certified.
Sign up for a free class to join the ranks of global Spanish learners, and next time someone asks how many people speak Spanish in the world, they can count you in!
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