The following is a list of sovereign states and dependent territories where Spanish is an official language, the national language, or the de facto official language.
Spanish as the official language or national language
Spanish is the majority language in 21 sovereign states and several dependent territories, totaling around 440 million people.
In these countries and territories, Spanish is the main or only 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.
Commonly used 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.
Spanish has been spoken in the United States for several centuries, particularly in the Southwest and Florida, which were all once part of New Spain. 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. It is also de facto official in the U.S. state of New Mexico along with English and is increasingly used alongside English nationwide in business and politics. 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. In the United States, it is regulated by the North American Academy of the Spanish 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 Principality of Andorra and the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, both of which share 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 a working knowledge of the language.
Spanish-based creole language
The Spanish-based creole language of Papiamento is the official language in Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. Chavacano is spoken in the Philippines, and Palenquero is spoken in Colombia; but neither is the official language in their respective countries. Judaeo-Spanish (better known as Ladino) is still spoken by some Sephardi Jews.
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. Despite government promotions 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. In the country, Spanish is regulated by the Philippine Academy of the Spanish Language.
International organizations where Spanish is official
- 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)
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