The United States has the second highest number of Spanish speakers in the world—more than Spain and second after Mexico, according to a report published this week by the Instituto Cervantes.
It’s a finding that confirms the importance of Spanish in the U.S. and the importance of the U.S. in the Spanish-speaking world, a level of significance that will only rise in the future.
About 470 million people in the world speak Spanish as their native language; another 89 million speak the language to some level. Mexico, with 121 million Spanish speakers, represents far and above the largest population of Spanish speakers, while the U.S. has 53 million Spanish speakers (41 million of those native speakers).
The two North American countries are followed by Colombia (48 million), Spain (47 million), and Argentina (42 million).
By 2050, the U.S. will overtake Mexico as the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, the report predicts, thanks to increased population growth in Latino communities. More than half of the country’s population growth between 2000 and 2010 came from Latinos, the report says, and more than 73 percent of Latino families in the U.S. speak Spanish in their home.
The report also explores the impact of Spanish on the internet: it’s the third top language used on the web, after English and Chinese. It’s also the number two language on Facebook, the number two language on Wikipedia in terms of visits, and the number three language on Twitter after English and Japanese.