Portuguese and Spanish are the fastest growing European languages in the world after English. Both are part of a broader group known as West Iberian Romance. Although Portuguese and Spanish are closely related, to the point of having a considerable degree of mutual intelligibility, there are also important differences between them, which can pose difficulties for people acquainted with one of the languages who attempt to learn the other.
With around 420 million native speakers, Spanish ranks as the world’s No. 2 language in terms of how many people speak it as their first language. It is slightly ahead of English (328 million) but far behind Chinese (1.2 billion).
It is expected that within 50 years from now, Spanish will the first language of about 50 % of the Americans.
To the people who speak it, Spanish is sometimes called español and sometimes castellano (the Spanish equivalent of “Castilian”). The labels used vary from region to region and sometimes according to political viewpoint.
Spanish is one of the world’s most phonetic languages. If you know how a word is spelled, you can almost always know how it is pronounced (although the reverse isn’t true).
Portuguese is the seventh most spoken language worldwide, with about 220 million native speakers and 260 million in total. It’s an official language in Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe.
Of the five main Romance languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian), Portuguese is the second most widely spoken after Spanish.
France is the third country in the world with the most Portuguese speakers (after Brazil and Portugal).