List of countries where Spanish is an official language

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Map highlighting countries where Spanish is an official language, or a de facto official language.

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 official or national language[edit]

Spanish is an official language in 20 sovereign states and one dependent entity, totalling around 423 million people.

Official And National Language[edit]

Sovereign states where Spanish is an official language.

CountryPopulation (2011)[1]
Honduras Honduras[10]8,143,564
 El Salvador[12]6,071,774
 Costa Rica[13]4,576,562
 Equatorial Guinea[15]1,622,000

Dependent entities where Spanish is an official language.

NamePopulation (2011)[1]
 Puerto Ricoa[16]3,989,133

De facto official and national language[edit]

Sovereign states where Spanish is a de facto official language. 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 spoken and taught in schools as part of the official curriculum; yet, it is not established by legislation as an official language.

CountryPopulation (2011)[1]
 Dominican Republic[20]9,956,648

a Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the U.S. where Spanish and English are the official languages[16] and Spanish is the primary language.

Population of the Spanish speaking countries (+ Puerto Rico) in 2011

Former official language[edit]

Spanish was an official language of the Philippines from the beginning of Spanish colonial rule in 1565 and through independence until a constitutional change in 1973. However, President Marcos had Spanish redesignated as an official language under Presidential Decree No. 155, dated 15 March 1973 and Spanish remained official until 1987, when it was re-designated as a voluntary and optional auxiliary language.[23]

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.[24] By 2012, the language was a compulsory subject at only a very select number of secondary schools.[25] Furthermore, despite government promotions of Spanish, less than 0.5% of the population are able to speak Spanish at least proficiently.[26]

Commonly used language[edit]

Spanish is the most studied foreign language in the United States and many important public documents are published in both English and Spanish.[27] Spanish 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.[28] 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.[29] The Spanish language is not official but also holds a special status (in the education system, the media, and some official documents) in Andorra and Gibraltar.[30] Spanish is used for international commerce in Brazil due to being surrounded mostly by Spanish-speaking countries and Spanish is widely taught as a foreign language. A similar situation exists in Belize, where Spanish is the first language of almost half of the population.

CountryPopulationNative speakers
 United States314,687,36937,579,787

Spanish-based creole language[edit]

The Spanish-based creole language of Papiamentoa is official in Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.[citation needed] Chavacano is spoken in the Philippines, and Palenquero is spoken in Colombia but are not official.

CountryCreole languageEstimated speakers[31]YearStatus
 PhilippinesChavacano689,000[32]1992Regional.[citation needed]
 Bonaire and  CuraçaoPapiamento185,155[32]1981Official.[citation needed]
 ArubaPapiamento60,000[citation needed]N/AOfficial.[citation needed]

a Papiamento is considered both a Spanish- and Portuguese-based creole language.[33][34]

International organizations where Spanish is official[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  2. ^ Spanish Constitution, Art. 3-1
  3. ^ Constitution of Colombia, Art. 10
  4. ^ Constitution of Peru, Art. 48
  5. ^ Constitution of Venezuela, Art. 9
  6. ^ Constitution of Ecuador, Art. 2
  7. ^ Constitution of Guatemala, Art. 143
  8. ^ Constitution of Cuba, Art. 2
  9. ^ Constitution of Bolivia, Art. 5
  10. ^ Constitution of Honduras, Art. 6
  11. ^ Constitution of Paraguay, Art. 140
  12. ^ Constitution of El Salvador, Art. 62
  13. ^ Constitution of Costa Rica, Art. 76
  14. ^ Constitution of Panama, Art. 7
  15. ^ Constitution of Equatorial Guinea, Art. 4
  16. ^ a b Constitution of Puerto Rico, Art. 3, Section 5: It is mandatory to be able to read and write in either English or Spanish in order to be a member of the Legislative Assembly.
  17. ^ Mexico does not have an official language at the federal level [1]; however, Spanish is the national language and spoken by the majority.[citation needed]
  18. ^ The Argentine Constitution does not establish Spanish as an official language.
  19. ^ The Constitution of Chile does not establish Spanish as an official language. However, Chilean legislation establishes that schools must teach students to communicate in the "Castilian language" (General Law on Education (Articles 29 and 30), Chile Library of Congress.)
  20. ^ The Constitution of the Dominican Republic does not establish Spanish as an official language.
  21. ^ The Constitution of Nicaragua does not establish Spanish as an official language.
  22. ^ The Constitution of Uruguay does not establish Spanish as an official language.
  23. ^ Article XIV, Sec 7: For purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English. The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein. Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis.
  24. ^ "La presidenta filipina pedirá ayuda a España para oficializar el español" (in Spanish). MSN Noticias. Archived from the original on 2007-10-26. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  25. ^ Legaspi, Amita O. (July 3, 2012). "PNoy (President Benigno Aquino III) and Spain’s Queen Sofia welcome return of Spanish language in Philippine schools". GMA News. 
  26. ^ Medium projection, PH: National Statistics Office, Mid-2010 
  27. ^ "Language Rights and New Mexico Statehood", The Excluded Student: Educational Practices Affecting Mexican Americans in the Southwest, Mexican American Education Study, Report III, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1972, pp. 76–82[dead link]
  28. ^ [2]
  29. ^ "Más 'speak spanish' que en España". Retrieved 2007-10-06.  (Spanish)
  30. ^ Constitution of Gibraltar
  31. ^ "Ethnologue". Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  32. ^ a b Número de hispanohablantes en países y territorios donde el español no es lengua oficial, Instituto Cervantes.
  33. ^ Attila Narin (June 1998). "Papiamentu Facts". Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  34. ^ Dalby, Andrew (1998). Dictionary of Languages. Bloomsbury Publishing plc. p. 489. ISBN 0-7475-3117-X.