In European countries other than Flag of Spain Spain, it may be spoken by some of their Spanish-speaking immigrant communities, primarily in the Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands, Flag of Belgium Belgium, Flag of Switzerland Switzerland, Flag of Italy Italy, Flag of France France, Flag of Germany Germany and the Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom where there is a strong community in London. There has been a sharp increase in the popularity of Spanish in the UK over the last few years. It is an important and widely-spoken language in Flag of Andorra Andorra. It is spoken by much of the population of the British colony of Flag of Gibraltar Gibraltar, though English remains the only official language.

Flag of Europe

In Europe, Spanish is the fifth most commonly used language. In the EU, Spanish is the most widely known language besides the mother tongue after English, German and French. 69% indicate their level of English to be ‘very good’ or ‘good’, and 65% of those speaking Spanish respectively. Respondents speaking French or German tend to rate their language skills slightly lower.1

Proficiency of Spanish in European countries

Proficiency of Spanish in European countries
Proficiency of Spanish in European countries Footnote 2



Among the countries and territories in Oceania, Spanish is the sixth most spoken language after English in Flag of Australia Australia, where in the 2001 Australian Census, of the persons who reported they spoke a language other than English at home, around 79,000 reported Spanish.3 According to the 2006 Australian Census there are approximately 58,271 Australians of Spanish full or partial descent, most of which reside within the major cities of Sydney and Melbourne, with lesser but rapidly growing numbers in Brisbane (which has over 15,000) and Perth. Of these 12,276 were born in Spain.4

Spanish is also spoken by the approximately 3,000 inhabitants of Flag of Rapa Nui Chile Easter Island, a territorial possession of Flag of Chile Chile. The island nations of Flag of Guam Guam, Flag of Palau Palau, Flag of the Northern Mariana Islands Northern Mariana Islands, Flag of the Marshall Islands Marshall Islands and Flag of the Federated States of Micronesia Federated States of Micronesia all once had Spanish speakers, but Spanish has long since been forgotten, and now only exists as an influence on the local native languages.


Among other Asian countries Spanish may also be spoken by pockets of ex-immigrant communities, such as Mexican-born ethnic Chinese deported to Flag of the People's Republic of China China or third and fourth generation ethnic Japanese Peruvians returning to their ancestral homeland of Flag of Japan Japan. In the Flag of the Philippines Philippines most native languages are part of the Philippine branch of the Malayo-Polynesian languages, which is itself a branch of the Austronesian language family. The only non-Austronesian language indigenous to the Philippines is Chavacano, a Spanish-based creole which developed in the southern Philippines. The number of Chavacano-speakers was estimated at 1.2 million in 1996.5

Spanish was an official language of the Philippines from the beginning of Spanish rule in 1565 to a constitutional change in 1973. During Spanish colonization (1565-1898), it was the language of government, trade and education, and spoken as a first language by Spaniards and educated Filipinos. In the mid-nineteenth century, the colonial government set up a free public education system with Spanish as the medium of instruction. This increased use of Spanish throughout the islands led to the formation of a class of Spanish-speaking intellectuals called the Ilustrados. However, Spanish was never spoken by the majority of the population.

Despite American administration after the defeat of Spain in the Spanish-American War in 1898, the usage of Spanish continued in Philippine literature and press during the early years of American rule. Gradually, however, the American government began increasingly promoting the use of English, and it characterized Spanish as a negative influence of the past. Eventually, by the 1920s, English became the primary language of administration and education. But despite a significant decrease in influence and speakers, Spanish remained an official language of the Philippines when it became independent in 1946, alongside English and Filipino, a standardized version of Tagalog.

Spanish was removed from official status in 1973 under the administration of Ferdinand Marcos, but regained its status as an official language two months later under Presidential Decree No. 155, dated 15 March 1973. It remained an official language until 1987, with the ratification of the present constitution, in which it was re-designated as a voluntary and optional auxiliary language.6

In the Antarctic, the permanent bases made by Argentina, Chile, Peru and Spain also place Spanish as the official and working language of these enclaves.


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1. Eurobarometer 63.4, Europeans and Languages. European Commission, September 2005 [Online] Cited 14/11/2014
2. Map from “Languages of Europe” on the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 14/11/2014
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics Census 2001 quoted in “Languages of Australia” on the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 14/11/2014
4. Australian Bureau of Statistics Census quoted in “Spanish Australian” on the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 14/11/2014
5. Spanish creole: Quilis, Antonio (1996). “La lengua española en Filipinas” (pdf), Cervantes virtual, pp. 54-55 quoted in “Spanish language” on the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 14/11/2014 Footnote 62
6. Text from “Spanish language” on the Wikipedia website [Online] Cited 14/11/2014