The diverse and far-flung group of Portuguese speaking countries is a legacy of the Portuguese Empire, the first of the European colonial empires and one of the longest-lived and most influential. Portuguese naval exploration began in the early 15th Century. Colonies were set up over the following centuries, usually in coastal locations, from Brazil in the west to India and South-East Asia in the east, turning Portugal into a world power. Although Portuguese influence declined in later centuries, its legacy survives today in the Portuguese speaking countries across the world, particularly the developing power of Brazil.
In total, Portuguese is an official language in ten countries, nine of which are independent nations (Macau being a territory of China). Three of those have native Portuguese speaking majority populations, and it is the sole official language in four additional countries. The total global population of Portuguese speakers is 260 million, 215-220 million of whom are native speakers, so it’s a highly relevant language that is well worth learning. Learn with an expert here.
In this post, we’ll briefly explore the various Portuguese speaking countries, their history and where and how Portuguese is spoken.
Majority Portuguese Speaking Countries
The birthplace of the Portuguese language, which began to evolve from Galician-Portuguese upon the formation of Portugal as an independent nation in the 12th Century. Modern Portugal has a population of somewhere over ten million people, the overwhelming majority of whom are native Portuguese speakers. Although there are distinct differences of pronunciation between North and South Portugal, the language is essentially the same across the country.
Brazil, which until its independence in 1822 was the jewel in the crown of the Portuguese Empire, is by far the largest and most populous of the Portuguese speaking countries. The vast majority of Brazil’s huge population of over 207 million(!) are speakers of Brazilian Portuguese, which has some differences in grammar from European Portuguese, and numerous distinct regional accents.
São Tomé & Príncipe
A small island nation off the west coast of Africa, São Tomé and Príncipe is divided between native speakers of modern European Portuguese, a local variant which is more like Brazilian, and speakers of Portuguese creoles.
Countries Where Portuguese Is the Sole Official Language
The West African nation of Angola is the second-most populous of the Portuguese speaking countries after Brazil, with a population of over 29 million. Portuguese is the official language and spoken by most people, but only 20% of the population speak it as a first language, the rest speaking African languages such as Kikongo and Kimbundu.
Mozambique, in East Africa, is the third-most populous of the Portuguese speaking countries, with a population of more than 26 million. Although Portuguese is the official language, only 40% of the population speak it, and only about 6.5% consider it their mother tongue.
The people of this small West African nation mostly speak either native languages or a Portuguese-derived creole. Only 11% of the population speak Portuguese; it is, however, the official language, used for administrative purposes and taught in schools.
The people of this small Atlantic island mostly speak a Portuguese creole, but Portuguese is the official language, used for official purposes, in schools and the media. People use Portuguese in official situations, and creole in informal ones.
Other Portuguese Speaking Countries
Portuguese is also a co-official language in Equatorial Guinea, East Timor and the Chinese territory of Macau. There are also significant Portuguese speaking minorities in India, Andorra, Luxembourg, Japan, Paraguay, Uruguay, Canada and various locations in the USA, such as Florida, New York and California.
As you can see, Portuguese is one of the most widely-spoken and relevant modern languages. Portuguese is valuable and in-demand, and learning it will enable you to communicate with a huge variety of people all over the world. The expert tutors at PortugueseTutoring.com can help you to learn it the best possible way. Learn Portuguese online here.