Which countries speak Spanish as their first language?

Spanish speaking countries

Where is Spanish spoken?

I recently wrote an article about which language, out of Spanish and Mandarin, is best to learn? In the article I compared the number of countries that each language is spoken in – as opposed to simply the number of people that speak them and this comparison sparked some interest. Thinking about it a bit more, I realized that this information is rarely mentioned in the debate about which language is best to learn – and yet in many ways it is a more significant figure.

How many people speak Spanish?

In absolute terms, about 400 million people speak Spanish – the third most spoken language. This compares with Mandarin’s 1 billion speakers. But what happens when we compare where these languages are spoken?

Where is Spanish spoken?

learn to speak Spanish

Many people choose to learn Spanish

When we look at how these languages are globally distributed, the more wide spread nature of Spanish emerges. Mandarin is highly concentrated, spoken as a first language in just  two countries: China and Taiwan. Spanish, on the other hand, is much more wide spread, being spoken in 24 countries and has a strong representation on three continents: Europe, where it is spoken in Spain of course; South America where it is spoken in most countries; and, in North America where it is the second most spoken language of the USA (and is an official language).

It’s geographical distribution means that most people are more likely to come across Spanish more often than Mandarin and I would argue its wide distribution makes it a better language to learn. (That coupled with the fact that for English monolinguals at least, Spanish is a much, much easier language to learn than Mandarin).

Anyway here is the definitive list of countries that Spanish is spoken in as a first language:











El Salvador

Costa Rica


Equatorial Guinea

Puerto Rico




Domincan Republic



Wow, that’s 21 countries! Some great holiday destinations too!

How many countries speak English as a first language?

English is the 1st language of 8 countries: USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Wales, Scotland and Republic of Ireland.

English scores more highly than Spanish, as an “official” language, as opposed to first language, with 55 countries and territories giving it official status. India for instance has the second most English speakers in the world after the USA.

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Learn to speak Spanish with KLOO's Race to Madrid Board Game

KLOO’s Race to Madrid to learn Spanish

If you are looking to learn Spanish, then consider KLOO – an award winning language game. Within seconds, players learn how to make proper sentences in Spanish using Discovery Learning techniques to rapidly build their vocabulary. KLOO was created by a specialist games designer working with MFL teachers and language experts. The game was launched in October 2010. In 2011 it won ToyTalk Best Board Game as well as Dr Toy Best Travel Game.

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