Spanish language facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Pronunciation [espaˈɲol], [kasteˈʎano]
Region Spain and Latin America (see below)
Native speakers 427 million  (2016)
+80 million as a second language
Language family
  • Italic
    • Romance
      • Western Romance
        • Gallo-Iberian
          • Ibero-Romance
            • West-Iberian
              • Castilian languages
                • Spanish
Early forms:
Old Spanish
  • Spanish
Writing system Latin (Spanish alphabet)
Spanish Braille
Official status
Official language in
Regulated by Association of Spanish Language Academies
(Real Academia Española and 21 other national Spanish language academies)
Linguasphere 51-AAA-b
Map-Hispanophone World.png
     Countries where Spanish has official status.

     Countries and U.S. states where Spanish has no official status but is spoken by 25% or more of the population.      Countries and U.S. states where Spanish has no official status but is spoken by 10–20% of the population.

     Countries and U.S. states where Spanish has no official status but is spoken by 5–9.9% of the population.

The Spanish language is one of the Romance languages that came from the Latin language. It is the most commonly spoken Romance language in the world. As of November 2015, over 360 million people in the world spoke Spanish as their first language.


The Spanish language is used by many people in the world today. This is partly because the people of Spain traveled and colonized many different parts of the world. They created many new countries, and also new governments, in some old countries. The countries that have Spanish as an official language are called the Hispanic countries. Most of them are in the Americas, which make up Latin America. They include the following:

In North America, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands:

In the United States and Belize, most people use English, but Spanish is the second most-used language.

In South America:

Many Brazilians learn Spanish as a second language, even though Brazil's official language is Portuguese.

In other parts of the world:

Related languages

The Spanish language has originally been the language of Castile. When the Western Roman Empire collapsed, the Latin language began to develop in different ways in different provinces. The Latin spoken in Iberian peninsula developed first into Ibero-Romance language in the 6th century. Castilian and Portuguese became separate languages in the 12th century.

In Spain, there are other languages that also came from Latin that are connected to Spanish, like Basque (euskera), Catalan, and Galician.

Catalan language is not a dialect of Spanish. It is more closely related to French than to Spanish.

In parts of northern Spain and southern France, people speak Basque (also called Euskara or Euskera). It is very different than Spanish.

Therefore, the Spanish language is sometimes called Castilian, named after Castile, the region in Spain where the language came from. Castilian Spanish is considered the original and most proper form of Spanish.

The Spanish word for Spanish is "español", and the Spanish word for Castilian is "castellano". In the other Romance languages spoken on the Iberian Peninsula, such as Galician, Catalan, Asturian, and others, Spanish is called "Castellán" or "Castellà"., and the word "Spanish" is rarely used to refer the language. In Spain, the name of the subject in schools is "Lengua Castellana" (Castilian Language). However, in zones of Spain where people only speak Spanish, people do call their language Spanish.

In Portuguese, it's common to use the word "castelhano" when talking about this language too. Portuguese, which is spoken in Portugal and Brazil, is very similar to Spanish.


In 2009, for the first time in history, Spanish was the first "mother tongue" language of the western world, more common than English. It was also the second most commonly spoken language on Earth, after Chinese. As of 2016, the three most common languages in the world are:

  1. Chinese: Spoken by about 1.302 billion people
  2. Spanish: Spoken by about 427 million people in 31 different countries
  3. English: Spoken by 339 million people in 106 different countries

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Spanish language Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.