There are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the US plus a further 11.6 million who are bilingual, mainly the children of Spanish-speaking immigrants. This puts the US ahead of Colombia (48 million) and Spain (46 million) and second only to Mexico (121 million).
US Census Office estimates that The United States 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. And more than 6% of Alaskans are Spanish speakers.
There are 559 million Spanish speakers worldwide (470 million native speakers and those with some command of the language). The Instituto Cervantes estimates that 21 million people are currently studying Spanish (The US leads with 7.8 million learning the language, followed by Brazil and France).
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. Spanish is also 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.
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