Spanish is a Western Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is usually considered a global language and the world’s second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.
It is estimated that more than 437 million people speak Spanish as a native language, which qualifies it as second on the lists of languages by number of native speakers. Instituto Cervantes claims that there are an estimated 477 million Spanish speakers with native competence and 572 million Spanish speakers as a first or second language—including speakers with limited competence—and more than 21 million students of Spanish as a foreign language.
Spanish is the official or national language in Spain, Equatorial Guinea, and 19 countries in the Americas. Speakers in the Americas total some 418 million. It is also an optional language in the Philippines as it was a Spanish colony from 1569 to 1899. In the European Union, Spanish is the mother tongue of 8% of the population, with an additional 7% speaking it as a second language. Spanish is the most popular second language learned in the United States. In 2011 it was estimated by the American Community Survey that of the 55 million Hispanic United States residents who are five years of age and over, 38 million speak Spanish at home.