Wikipedia says: (From wikipedia.org)
Spanish (español) is a Romance language that originated in Spain and now has more native speakers worldwide than any language other than Mandarin Chinese. It is also called Castilian (castellano) after the particular region of Spain, Castile, where it originated. According to Ethnologue, there are approximately 328.5 million people speaking Spanish as a native language (mainly using population datas of 1995 or before) and including second language speakers a total of 388 million speakers worldwide. Some other sources estimate as many as 400 to 500 million people. Mexico contains the largest population of Spanish speakers. Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, and is used as an official language by the European Union and Mercosur.
Spanish is a part of the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several dialects of spoken Latin in central-northern Iberia around the ninth century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile (present northern Spain) into central and southern Iberia during the later Middle Ages. Early in its history, the Spanish vocabulary was enriched by its contact with Basque and Arabic, and the language continues to adopt foreign words from a variety of other languages, as well as developing new words. Spanish was taken most notably to the Americas as well as to Africa and Asia-Pacific with the expansion of the Spanish Empire between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries, where it became the most important language for government and trade.
Spanish is the most popular second language learned by native speakers of American English. In many other countries as well, in the 21st century, the learning of Spanish as a foreign language has grown significantly.
Spanish is the most widely understood language in the Western Hemisphere, with significant demographics of native Spanish speakers ranging from the tip of Patagonia to as far north as New York City and Chicago. Additionally, there are over 10,000,000 fluent second language speakers in both Brazil and the United States. Since the early 21st century, it has arguably superseded French in becoming the second most studied language and second language in international communication, after English, in the world.
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