According to the latest annual report from the Spanish Language institute, the Instituto Cervantes, more than 577 million people around the world speak Spanish, some 7.6% of the global population. By 2050, the Spanish speaking population is expected to increase to 756 million, an increase of 0.1%. This makes it the second most widely spoken native language on the planet, just after Mandarin Chinese.
This group of over half a billion people consists of the native speakers, second language speakers and foreign learners. Out of these, 480 million speak Spanish as their mother tongue while almost 22 million people across 107 countries around the world are learning the language. This figure regarding the use of foreign learners is expected to be approximately 25% larger as it does not account for private study.
The yearbook, which began operation in 1998, analyzes the current position of the Spanish language and its projections for the future. Its figures help the Instituto Cervantes to make decisions on issues such as opening new centers, prioritizing academic work or cultural dissemination, or promoting Spanish in international forums.
In the online world, Spanish is the third most widely used language after English and Chinese, comprising 8.1% of all online communication. It is also the third most widely learned foreign language, also after English and Chinese, with a particularly high level of popularity in the Anglophone world. In the United States, it is the most popular foreign language to study while it is perceived as the most important language to study for the future in the United Kingdom. France, Sweden and Denmark also demonstrate a keen interest in studying Spanish as a foreign language.
In terms of the sciences, despite the continued dominance of the English language, Spanish remains important and its use in global science has increased constantly since 1996, largely focusing on social sciences, medical sciences, and the arts and humanities.
With respect to film production, Spain, Argentina and Mexico are three Spanish-speaking countries that are among the top fifteen 15 in the world. Spain is also the third largest exporter of books and is among the leading book publishers, along with Argentina. Spanish is the third most popular language in which magazines are published, although it is far below English and French.
The director of the Instituto Cervantes, Luis García Montero, also noted when presenting the report that “the GDP generated of all Spanish-speaking countries (6.9% of world GDP) is higher than that generated by all countries whose official language is French”.
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