Hablemos Español: 24 countries that speak Spanish

countries that speak Spanish
Today, there are 21 countries that speak Spanish worldwide. Source: AFP

Approximately 559 million people live in countries that speak Spanish and are fluent in it. It is one of the most spoken languages, falling just behind Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, and English. On the internet, it is the second most used language of all time

It all started in the Iberian Peninsula, where the language was derived from spoken Latin brought by the Romans during their occupation there. After the success of the Reconquista (the reconquest of Spain from Muslim rule) circa the late 15th century, the world saw a global spread of Spain’s influences as conquerors, missionaries, and explorers established the Spanish Empire across vast territories.

These Spaniards brought with them the Spanish language.

Today, Spanish is the official language of more than 20 countries worldwide, mainly in the Americas and, of course, Spain. This binds them together, expanding the unity of Spanish-speaking countries through gastronomy, musical preferences, architectural influences, and cultural celebrations.

It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations and a language of reference in international relations. This plays a significant role in global communication, cultural exchange, media, and trade.

Latin American countries, predominantly Spanish-speaking, are important trading partners, especially in the US. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), those countries, together with the Caribbean, accounted for 22% of US foreign trade in the first half of 2023.

It is a vast, growing market that many other international companies would like to tap into, making the Spanish language one of the most essential languages for business.

countries that speak Spanish

Most of Puerto Rican singer/rapper Bad Bunny’s songs are in Spanish. Source: AFP

The Spanish language is also experiencing a boom in the entertainment world.

The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee song “Despacito” was and still is the number one Spanish song on YouTube, with over eight billion views and counting. Spanish soap operas, more commonly known as telenovelas, like “Yo Soy Betty La Fea” and “La Reina del Sur” had everyone, including non-speakers, glued to their seats. Most recently, the singer/rapper Bad Bunny, whose songs are in Spanish, headlined Coachella in 2023.

Heck, even Dora the Explorer introduces herself in Spanish.

There are exactly 21 nations where Spanish is the official language, plus some others that speak it but not as its native tongue.

Whether you are travelling or attempting to master it, it is important to learn a bit about the places where people speak Spanish on a daily basis. ¡Vamos!

The list of countries that speak Spanish

countries that speak Spanish

Modern-day Spanish is also known as Castilian Spanish. Source: AFP

 1. Spain

Obviously, Spain would be the first on this list simply because it is where the language originated from.

It was derived from Old Castilian Spanish which emerged during the Reconquista as the dominant of various spoken Latin. Modern-day Spanish (also known as Castilian Spanish) was established in a standard written form in the 13th century in Toledo. This can be considered as the point when Spanish became a language of its own.

 2. Central America


Mexico has the largest population of Spanish speakers. Mexican Spanish is the most polite, clear, and easy-to-understand of the many Latin American Spanish dialects. It even uses the polite personal pronoun usted to signify respect towards an older person or someone in a leadership position.

countries that speak Spanish

In terms of countries that speak Spanish, Guatemalan Spanish might be the easiest one to discern. Source: AFP


Guatemalan Spanish may be easier to understand compared to other variations of the language. This is because Guatemalans generally avoid lisping, do not omit letters when pronouncing words, and maintain a steady rhythm in their speech.

That is why Guatemalan Spanish is known throughout Latin America as one of the most phonetically neutral variants of the language.


Cuban Spanish, or Cubano, and Haitian Creole are two languages that most Cubans speak. Cubano is considered a close cousin of the main Spanish language but with some minor differences. The nasal accent, intonations, and sometimes, inclusion of Creole slang are what makes Cubano sound unique.

countries that speak Spanish

The Dominican Republic’s African ancestry does not have a major impact on its Spanish language. Source: AFP

Dominican Republic

Despite the African ancestry among Dominicans (also known as Afro-Dominicans), it did not have as much of an impact on Spanish as one might expect. Dominican Spanish stands out for its slang, accent, and colourful expressions. Other than within the country itself, the language can commonly be heard throughout the northeastern side of the US.


Honduras shares a border with three neighbouring countries, which results in a substantial difference in its Spanish language. Honduran Spanish on the Caribbean side sounds a lot like other Caribbean nations, while the Western side is closer to Mexican Spanish.

El Salvador

The language used in El Salvador shares many similarities to Rioplatense Spanish, the one used in Argentina. However, it does have stark differences in pronunciation and usage, like the use of voseo and vos, which are commonly heard on television and seen in publications.

Other Spanish-speaking Central American countries include Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Puerto Rico.

3. South America

countries that speak Spanish

Colombia is a good place to learn Spanish. Source: AFP


Many people say Colombian Spanish sounds the clearest. For this reason, many people believe Colombia is a good place to learn Spanish. Just listen to singer Shakira speak!


As the largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world, Argentina’s first language is one of the most easy-to-identify accents due to its unmistakable pronunciation and vocabulary. People there speak with a Spanish dialect called Rioplatense. It is the most prominent dialect to employ voseo (a second-person singular pronoun) – replacing tuteo – in both speech and writing.


In Peru, there are four main Spanish dialects: Andean Spanish, Amazonic Spanish, Equatorial Spanish, and Peruvian Coastal Spanish. All these dialects have interesting characteristics, but the last is the standard variation. It is spoken in the capital city of Lima and used in media and official documents.

countries that speak Spanish

Venezuela is one of the countries that speak Spanish with shorten words. Source: AFP


One distinct characteristic of Venezuelan Spanish is that it pronounces the letter “s” like an aspirated “h,” especially in the final syllable. For example, adiós becomes adióh. Venezuelan Spanish also shortens words.


Often considered the hardest variation of the language, Chilean Spanish, or Chileno, is one of the fastest-spoken accents among its dialects, with tones that rise and fall in its speech. Even native Spanish speakers would agree that it is sometimes difficult to understand Chileno.


Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in South America with Spanish as its official language Depending on the geographical region, though, the Spanish language here may vary. But one thing people will notice is that it features borrowed words from Quechua, the surviving language of the Inca Empire.

Other Spanish-speaking South American countries include Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

countries that speak Spanish

Equatorial Guinea is the only African country that speaks Spanish. Source: AFP

4. Equatorial Guinea (Africa)

Equatorial Guinea is one of the only countries that speak Spanish in Africa.

Although it was a Spanish colony until 1968, today, more than 85% of its population speak the language, which is used in daily communication, school education, and government offices. However, it is predicted that Equatoguinean Spanish will one day lose its dominance due to French becoming the language of business in that area. Until that day, Equatorial Guinea flourishes as a melting pot of rich African and Spanish cultures influencing its local food and traditional art.

5. Philippines (Asia)

Although the official languages in the Philippines are Filipino and English, Spanish was part of that group for three centuries, mostly due to the Spanish rule in the country until 1987, when the Philippines earned its independence.

Today, less than 1% of the country’s population is proficient in Spanish, but it seems that number is about to grow. In 2007, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced the reintroduction of Spanish, starting with the country’s school systems. By 2012, Spanish was a compulsory subject at some secondary schools, and this number is projected to increase in the future.

countries that speak Spanish

Andorra is one of the few European countries that speak Spanish, although Catalan is its official language. Source: AFP

6. Andorra (Europe)

Nestled between Spain and France, Andorra is one of the few European countries that speak Spanish. Although Catalan is its official language, a huge percentage of the population are Spanish speakers, making it the second most used language in the country.

7. Gibraltar (Europe)

Another unexpected Spanish-speaking territory is Gibraltar. Similar to Andorra, its location is the reason Spanish is widely spoken as it sits at the southern tip of Spain.

Since opening the Gibraltar–Spain border in 1985, it has allowed for easier travel in and out of Spain, with some people commuting to and fro for work.