Portuguese (português or língua portuguesa) is a Romance language that originated in what is now Galicia (Spain) and northern Portugal from the Latin spoken by romanized Celts about 2000 years ago. It spread worldwide in the 15th and 16th centuries as Portugal established a colonial and commercial empire (1415–1999) which spanned from Brazil in the Americas to Goa in India and Macau in China. During that time, many creole languages based on Portuguese also appeared around the world, especially in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
Today it is one of the world’s major languages, ranked sixth according to number of native speakers (approximately 250 million). It is the language with the largest number of speakers in South America, spoken by nearly all of Brazil’s approximately 183 million population, which accounts to over 51% of the continent’s population even though it is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas. It is also a major lingua franca in Portugal’s former colonial possessions in Africa. It is the official language of nine countries, being co-official with Spanish and French in Equatorial Guinea, with Chinese in the Chinese special administrative region of Macau, and with Tetum in Timor-Leste.
Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes once called Portuguese “the sweet language”, while Brazilian writer Olavo Bilac poetically described it as a última flor do Lácio, inculta e bela: “the last flower of Latium, wild and beautiful”.
Official Language of: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea Bissau, Chinese S.A.R. of Macau, Mozambique, Portugal and São Tomé and Príncipe.
Total number of speakers: 230 million
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