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21 Countries with Most Spanish Speakers Heading into 2024

In this article, we will discuss the 21 countries with most Spanish speakers heading into 2024. If you want to skip our discussion on global language trends, you can go directly to the 5 Countries with Most Spanish Speakers Heading into 2024.

Spanish is one of the most popular languages in the world. It is the official language in 21 countries globally, across 4 continents. Currently, the US has almost 57 million Spanish speakers, out of which 42 million are native Spanish speakers while the rest are bilingual. Around 10 million of these Spanish speakers are from California. It comes as no surprise that Spanish is the second most spoken language in the US. According to a report by Cervantes Institute, there are 496 million native Spanish speakers in the world in addition to almost 100 million non-native Spanish speakers. The total Spanish-speaking population in the world amounts to 595 million, out of which 21% reside in Mexico, making it the country with the most Spanish speakers in the world. This is one of the reasons why North America has more native and non-native Spanish speakers than South America, despite the latter having a combination of Hispanic countries. The largest Spanish-speaking country in South America is Columbia, with a total of 52 million Spanish speakers.

Spanish ranks second in the list of the most spoken native languages, right behind Mandarin Chinese. It is also the fourth most spoken language in the world, following English, Mandarin Chinese, and Hindi. Notably, it is recognized as one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Additionally, when considering usage on the internet and social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Wikipedia, Spanish ranks as the second most used language on the former and the third most used on the latter.

Language Dynamics in a Globalized World

Besides the Americas and the Caribbean, Spanish is also spoken widely in parts of Africa and Europe. Equatorial Guinea stands as the sole African country with Spanish as its official language. Approximately 68% of the country's population are Spanish speakers. While Spanish may not be the primary language, it is commonly used in Northern Africa, particularly in Morocco, which shares a close geographical proximity with Spain. Moving to Asia, while Spanish is not the official language in any Asian country, the Philippines has approximately 3 million Spanish speakers at present. This is because the Philippines was a Spanish colony from 1565 to 1898 and had Spanish as a co-official language along with English till 1987.  It's interesting to note that Spain accounts for less than 10% of the total Spanish speakers in the world. According to the Cervantes Institute, Spanish is experiencing growth as a native language, a contrast to the declining trends seen in other languages such as English, French, and Chinese in terms of native speakers. Currently, 7.6% of the world’s population speaks Spanish, and this number is expected to increase by 0.1% by 2050. This means that there will be almost 750 million Spanish speakers in the world within the next three decades. You can read about the 50 Most Spoken Languages in the World here.

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Given the growing popularity and demographic influence of Spanish, it is evident that there are many opportunities for individuals to learn the language worldwide. This is particularly true for those residing in the US, where a significant portion of the population speaks Spanish. The importance of Spanish proficiency is also emphasized by the strong trade connections, notably with Mexico, the United States' largest trading partner, accounting for $600 billion in trade during the first nine months of 2023. Due to trade tensions between the US and China, analysts predict that Mexico is likely to experience a significant increase in employment opportunities and business growth as American companies explore the relocation of manufacturing operations and shift supply-chain reliance from China to Mexico. Among the top Mexican companies engaging in trade with the US is Grupo Simec, S.A.B. de C.V. (BMV:SIMECB), specializing in steel manufacturing for the automotive, construction, and manufacturing sectors in the US and Canada. Additional successful Mexican trade partners in the American market include Coca-Cola FEMSA, S.A.B. de C.V. (NYSE:KOF) and Gruma, S.A.B. de C.V. (BMV:GRUMAB).

Here's what Harding Loevner said about Coca-Cola FEMSA, S.A.B. de C.V. (NYSE:KOF) in its Q1 2023 investor letter:

“The Consumer Staples sector delivered the strongest relative performance, with cosmetics producer L’Oréal and Coke bottler and convenience store operator Coca-Cola FEMSA, S.A.B. de C.V. (NYSE:KOF) especially strong. FEMSA rallied after announcing a strategic review, which will refocus the company on its strongest businesses and divest non-core assets, punctuated by cutting its large stake in Heineken. In terms of geographical performance, the eurozone emerged as the top-performing region, and our stocks did better still, fueled by the strong performance of Infineon, L’Oréal, and Schneider Electric. EMs, which lagged the index, were boosted by the improving outlook for semiconductor companies TSMC and Samsung. Mexico’s FEMSA also contributed strongly to relative returns.”

21 Countries with Most Spanish Speakers Heading into 2024
21 Countries with Most Spanish Speakers Heading into 2024

Our Methodology

To shortlist the countries with most Spanish speakers heading into 2024, we consulted a report by the Instituto Cervantes, a non-profit Spanish public institution established in 1991. Interestingly, some non-Hispanic countries have a higher number of Spanish speakers than some Hispanic countries. We have ranked the countries in ascending order of the total number of Spanish speakers as of 2023.

21 Countries with Most Spanish Speakers Heading into 2024

21. Uruguay

No. of Spanish Speakers = 3,429,389

Total Population = 3,485,151

Uruguay is a South American country with Spanish as its official language. English, Portuguese, and Italian are also spoken in Uruguay. The Spanish dialect of Uruguay is called Rioplatense Spanish.

20. Panama

No. of Spanish Speakers = 4,026,671

Total Population = 4,381,579

Panama, situated in Central America, has Spanish as its official language. It is spoken by around 92% of the population, amounting to 4 million Spanish speakers.

19. United Kingdom

No. of Spanish Speakers = 4,830,586

Total Population = 67,886,011

The United Kingdom, consisting of Wales, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, is an island nation in Europe. English is widely spoken in the UK. Around 7% of the population in the UK speaks Spanish, amounting to almost 5 million Spanish speakers.

18. Paraguay

No. of Spanish Speakers = 5,014,772

Total Population = 7,353,038

Paraguay is a landlocked country in South America with Spanish and Guarani as its two official languages. The majority of the Paraguay population is bilingual and speaks both languages, with about 68% speaking Spanish.

17. Costa Rica

No. of Spanish Speakers = 5,126,897

Total Population = 5,163,038

Costa Rica is a Central American country covered by lush rainforests. The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish, with about 99% of the population speaking it. Costa Rican Spanish is slightly distinct from Central American Spanish dialects.

16. El Salvador

No. of Spanish Speakers = 6,498,944

Total Population = 6,518,499

El Salvador is another Central American country with Spanish as its official language. Salvadorian Spanish is distinct from other Central American dialects due to differences in pronunciation and usage. The country has secured ninth place on our list of countries, with most Spanish speakers heading into 2024.

15. Nicaragua

No. of Spanish Speakers = 6,508,016

Total Population = 6,702,385

Nicaragua is a Central American country with Spanish as its official language. Around 97% of the population speaks Spanish. The Nicaraguan Spanish is often referred to as Nicanol.

14. Honduras

No. of Spanish Speakers = 9,327,852

Total Population = 9,450,711

Honduras is a Hispanic country in Central America where a variety of languages is spoken. However, Spanish is the official language of the country, with almost 99% of the population being fluent in it.

13. Bolivia

No. of Spanish Speakers = 9,791,723

Total Population = 11,797,257

Bolivia is a South American country with multiple official languages, including but not limited to Spanish, Paraguayan Guarani, Moore, and Ignaciano. However, the majority of the population speaks Spanish, with 83% Spanish speakers.

12. Dominican Republic

No. of Spanish Speakers = 10,282,682

Total Population = 10,535,535

The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation known for its magnificent beaches. The official language of the country is Spanish, with 97.6% of the population speaking Spanish. A very small group of people also speak Haitian Creole.

11. Cuba

No. of Spanish Speakers = 11,294,870

Total Population = 11,317,505

Cuba, located in the northern Caribbean Sea, is an island country where the predominant language spoken by the majority of the population is Spanish. Cuban Spanish is a variant of Caribbean Spanish, which is characterized by its distinctive accent, vocabulary, and grammar. The country is at the eleventh position on our list of countries with most Spanish speakers heading into 2024.

10. Guatemala

No. of Spanish Speakers = 13,396,931

Total Population = 17,109,746

Guatemala is a Central American country known for its volcanoes, Mayan ruins, and colorful colonial cities. The official language of Guatemala is Spanish. Besides Spanish, there are 22 other Mayan languages spoken in Guatemala.

9. Ecuador

No. of Spanish Speakers = 15,475,871

Total Population = 16,154,354

Ecuador is a South American country known for its diverse landscapes, including the Andes Mountains, the Amazon rainforest, and the Galapagos Islands. The country’s official language is Spanish, but several other indigenous languages are spoken by the natives.

8. Chile

No. of Spanish Speakers = 18,871,550

Total Population = 19,678,363

Chile is a South American nation known for its diverse geography and rich cultural heritage. Spanish serves as the official language of the country, spoken by nearly 96% of the entire population.

7. Peru

No. of Spanish Speakers = 28,707,048

Total Population = 33,149,016

Peru is a South American country, with 87% of the population speaking its official language, Spanish. In addition to Spanish, Peru also has a number of indigenous languages, including Quechua and Aymara.

6. Venezuela

No. of Spanish Speakers = 32,095,147

Total Population = 32,985,763

Venezuela is a South American country known for its oil reserves, beautiful beaches, and Angel Falls, which is the world's highest waterfall. The country’s official language is Spanish, but a small group of people also speak different indigenous languages.

Connecting to the economic landscape, prominent Mexican companies actively involved in trade with the US include Grupo Simec, S.A.B. de C.V. (BMV:SIMECB), Coca-Cola FEMSA, S.A.B. de C.V. (NYSE:KOF) and Gruma, S.A.B. de C.V. (BMV:GRUMAB).

 

Click to continue reading and see the 5 Countries with Most Spanish Speakers Heading into 2024.   Suggested articles:

Disclosure: None. 21 Countries with Most Spanish Speakers Heading into 2024 is originally published on Insider Monkey.