A total of 585 million people speak Spanish in the world, 7.5% of the world’s population. Of these, 489 million – six million more than a year ago – are native Spanish speakers. These data confirm the positive evolution of Spanish in the last decade, in which potential users have grown more than 30% and study it 60% more than in 2010.
Furthermore, Spanish is the second mother tongue by number of speakers after Mandarin Chinese, and the third language in a global count of users after English and Mandarin Chinese. On the Internet, Spanish is the third most used: 7.9% of users communicate in Spanish. It is the second language, behind English, in the publication of scientific texts. More than 907,000 foreigners come each year to study it, and they choose Spain for three main reasons: the cultural offer, the weather and the attractiveness of the country.
These are some of the most outstanding data of the «Yearbook 2020 Spanish in the World 2020» presented today by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, and the director of Instituto Cervantes, Luis García Montero. The academic director of Cervantes, Carmen Pastor; the Minister of Language Policies of Paraguay, Ladislaa Alcaraz, and professor David Fernández Vítores, author of the 2020 report Spanish, a living language.
The most significant figures for 2020 are the following:
• Almost 489 million people speak Spanish as their mother tongue, six million more than last year.
• The group of potential users of Spanish (native Spanish speakers plus users of limited competence and foreign language learners) exceeds 585 million, five million more than in 2019. They represent 7.5% of the world population.
• Spanish is the second mother tongue in the world by number of speakers, after Mandarin Chinese.
• It is the third language in a global tally of speakers (native proficiency + limited proficiency + Spanish students), after English and Mandarin Chinese.
• In the last decade (since this annual report was written) the positive evolution of Spanish has been confirmed:
◦ The number of potential speakers has grown more than 30%.
◦ The group of students as a foreign language has expanded by almost 60%.
◦ The role of Spanish is reinforced to the detriment of more established languages such as French and German.
• The number of Spanish speakers will continue to grow in the coming decades. In the second half of the century, its relative weight will begin to decrease progressively.
• In the year 2100, 6.3% of the world’s population will be able to communicate in Spanish.
• More than 22 million students study Spanish as a foreign language in 2020. Specifically, a total of 22,329,275.