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Spanish language facts for kids

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Quick facts for kids
Region Spain and Latin America (see below)
Native speakers 427 million  (2016)
+80 million as a second language
500 million total
Language family
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.

Spanish (Spanish: español, pronounced "Eh-span-yole", IPA: /espaɲol/), also called Castilian, is a Romance language. It is the most spoken Romance language in the world. As of November 2015, over 360 million people in the world spoke Spanish as their first language.


Spanish is used by many people in the world today, partly because Spain traveled and colonized many different parts of the world and created many new countries and new governments. The countries with 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 common 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 was originally the language of Castile. When the Western Roman Empire collapsed, Latin changed in different ways in different provinces. The Latin spoken in the Iberian Peninsula developed into the Ibero-Romance language in the 6th century. Castilian and Portuguese became separate languages around the 12th century.

In Spain, there are other languages that also came from Latin that are connected to Spanish, like Catalan, and Galician. Basque, also called Euskera or Euskara, is spoken in the Basque region of northern Spain and the southern region of France. Very different from Spanish, Basque is a language isolate since it is not known to have descended from any language family.

Catalan is not a dialect of Spanish and is actually more closely related to French.


Spanish is sometimes called Castilian because Castile is the region in Spain that is the origin of the language. Castile is the region that is considered to speak the 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 usually called "Castellán" or "Castellà" instead of "Spanish". In Spain, the name of the subject in schools is "lengua castellana" (Castilian language). However, in the regions of Spain in which people speak only Spanish, people call their language Spanish.

In Portuguese, the word "castelhano" is common to mention Spanish, however, in informal language, the most preferred name for the language is "espanhol". Portuguese, which is spoken in Portugal and Brazil, has many similarities to Spanish.


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

  1. Chinese: Spoken by about 1.305 billion people
  2. Spanish: Spoken by about 427 million people in 34 different countries
  3. English: Spoken by 339 million people in 108 different countries

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Idioma español para niños

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