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.
  Spanish is sole official language at the national level
  Spanish a co-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 a national language in 20 sovereign states and one dependent entity, totaling around 442 million people.[1]

In these countries 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.

Regulatory bodyMore information
 MexicoDe facto[3]120,286,655Academia Mexicana de la LenguaMexican Spanish
 SpainDe jure[4]47,737,941Real Academia EspañolaPeninsular Spanish
 ColombiaDe jure[5]46,245,297Academia Colombiana de la LenguaColombian Spanish
 ArgentinaDe facto[6]43,024,374Academia Argentina de LetrasRioplatense Spanish
 PeruDe jure[7]30,147,935Academia Peruana de la LenguaPeruvian Coast Spanish
 VenezuelaDe jure[8]28,868,486Academia Venezolana de la LenguaVenezuelan Spanish
 ChileDe facto[9]17,363,894Academia Chilena de la LenguaChilean Spanish
 EcuadorDe jure[10]15,654,411Academia Ecuatoriana de la LenguaEcuadorian Spanish
 GuatemalaDe jure[11]14,647,083Academia Guatemalteca de la LenguaGuatemalan Spanish
 CubaDe jure[12]11,047,251Academia Cubana de la LenguaCuban Spanish
 BoliviaDe jure[13]10,631,486Academia Boliviana de la LenguaBolivian Spanish
 Dominican RepublicDe jure[14]10,349,741Academia Dominicana de la LenguaDominican Spanish
Honduras HondurasDe jure[15]8,598,561Academia Hondureña de la LenguaHonduran Spanish
 ParaguayDe jure[16]6,703,860Academia Paraguaya de la Lengua EspañolaParaguayan Spanish
 El SalvadorDe jure[17]6,125,512Academia Salvadoreña de la LenguaSalvadoran Castilian
 NicaraguaDe facto[18]5,848,641Academia Nicaragüense de la LenguaNicaraguan Spanish
 Costa RicaDe jure[19]4,755,234Academia Costarricense de la LenguaCosta Rican Spanish
 Puerto RicoaDe jure[20]3,620,897Academia Puertorriqueña de la Lengua EspañolaPuerto Rican Spanish
 PanamaDe jure[21]3,608,431Academia Panameña de la LenguaPanamanian Spanish
 UruguayDe facto[22]3,332,972Academia Nacional de LetrasUruguayan Spanish
 Equatorial GuineaDe jure[23]722,254NoneEquatoguinean Spanish

a Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the U.S. where Spanish and English are the official languages[20] and Spanish is the primary language.

In November 2008 a district court judge ruled that a sequence of Congressional actions have had the cumulative effect of changing Puerto Rico's status to incorporated.[24] However, by April 2011 the issue had not yet made its way through the courts,[25] and in January 2013 the U.S. government still referred to Puerto Rico as unincorporated.[26]

b The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is a partially recognized state which claims the territory of Western Sahara. Spanish and Arabic are its official languages.

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

Commonly used language[edit]

Spanish is the most studied foreign language in the United States. With recent immigration United States is outnumbered by Mexico, Spain, Argentina and Colombia.[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] 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 Andorra and Gibraltar.[30] A similar situation exists in Belize, where Spanish is the first language of more than a third of the population.

CountryPopulationTotal speakers
 United States319,133,00050,579,787

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. Chamorro language is spoken in Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, were it is a co-official language. Judaeo-Spanish is spoken by Sephardi Jews.

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]
 GuamChamorro60,000[citation needed]N/AOfficial.[citation needed]
Flag of the Northern Mariana Islands.svgNorthern Mariana IslandsChamorro60,000[citation needed]N/AOfficial.[citation needed]
 IsraelJudaeo-Spanish96,000[citation needed]N/ANo Official.[citation needed]

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

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 Ferdinand 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.[35]

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.[36] By 2012, the language was a compulsory subject at only a very select number of secondary schools.[37] Despite government promotions of Spanish, less than 0.5% of the population are able to speak Spanish at least proficiently.[38]

While Spanish is designated as an optional government language in the Philippines, its usage is very limited and not present in everyday life.[39] In the country, Spanish is regulated by the Philippine Academy of the Spanish Language.

International organizations where Spanish is official[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 2009-08-11. 
  3. ^ 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]
  4. ^ Spanish Constitution, Art. 3-1
  5. ^ Constitution of Colombia, Art. 10
  6. ^ The Argentine Constitution does not establish Spanish as an official language.
  7. ^ Constitution of Peru, Art. 48
  8. ^ Constitution of Venezuela, Art. 9
  9. ^ 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.)
  10. ^ Constitution of Ecuador, Art. 2
  11. ^ Constitution of Guatemala, Art. 143
  12. ^ Constitution of Cuba, Art. 2
  13. ^ Constitution of Bolivia, Art. 5
  14. ^ The Constitution of the Dominican Republic establish Spanish as it official language.
  15. ^ Constitution of Honduras, Art. 6
  16. ^ Constitution of Paraguay, Art. 140
  17. ^ Constitution of El Salvador, Art. 62
  18. ^ The Constitution of Nicaragua does not establish Spanish as an official language.
  19. ^ Constitution of Costa Rica, Art. 76
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Constitution of Panama, Art. 7
  22. ^ The Constitution of Uruguay does not establish Spanish as an official language.
  23. ^ Constitution of Equatorial Guinea, Art. 4
  24. ^ Consejo de Salud Playa Ponce v. Johnny Rullan, p.28: "The Congressional incorporation of Puerto Rico throughout the past century has extended the entire Constitution to the island ...."
  25. ^ Hon. Gustavo A. Gelpi, "The Insular Cases: A Comparative Historical Study of Puerto Rico, Hawai'i, and the Philippines", The Federal Lawyer, March/April 2011. p. 25: "In light of the [Supreme Court] ruling in Boumediene, in the future the Supreme Court will be called upon to reexamine the Insular Cases doctrine as applied to Puerto Rico and other US territories."
  26. ^ accessed 26 January 2013: "Puerto Rico is a self-governing, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the Caribbean".
  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. 
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ "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. 
  37. ^ Legaspi, Amita O. (3 July 2012). "PNoy (President Benigno Aquino III) and Spain’s Queen Sofia welcome return of Spanish language in Philippine schools". GMA News. 
  38. ^ Medium projection, PH: National Statistics Office, Mid-2010  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  39. ^ <Constitution of the Philippines, Art. 14