The U.S. Is Now the World’s Second-Largest Spanish-Speaking Country

Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines

Posted on Jun 29, 2015

Paul NarvaezCC BY 2.0

On a global scale, Mexico is now the only country with more Spanish speakers than the United States, according to a new study published by the Instituto Cervantes.

The U.S. has 41 million native speakers, and 11 million people who are bilingual, with the largest concentrations of Spanish speakers living in the states of New Mexico, California, Texas and Arizona.

The Guardian reports:

This puts the US ahead of Colombia (48 million) and Spain (46 million) and second only to Mexico (121 million).

Among the sources cited in the report is the US Census Office which estimates that the US will have 138 million Spanish speakers by 2050, making it the biggest Spanish-speaking nation on Earth, with Spanish the mother tongue of almost a third of its citizens.

By state the highest concentration is in the former Spanish colonies of the south and south-west, with New Mexico top at 47%, followed by California and Texas (both 38%) and Arizona (30%). Some 18% of New Yorkers speak Spanish while only 1.3% of West Virginians do. Perhaps surprisingly, more than 6% of Alaskans are Spanish speakers.

The Index of Human Development ranks Spanish as the second most important language on earth, behind English but ahead of Mandarin. It is also the third most widely used language on the internet, although less than 8% of internet traffic is in Spanish. The report says that Spanish is the second most used language on Twitter in London and New York. It also comes second on Facebook, a long way behind English though well ahead of Portuguese, Facebook’s third language.

Read more here.

—Posted by Roisin Davis


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