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This particular resource links to the Wikipedia entry on the Portuguese language. This entry contains loads of information for the curious reader as well as for the serious Portuguese language learner, including historical and linguistic data.
Use this resource to become familiar with the Portuguese language and its context in today's world, to discover facts and linguistic data about Portuguese and its many varieties, access further information about and resources for learning Portuguese, and much more.
Portuguese (português or língua portuguesa) is a Romance language that originated in what is now Galicia (Spain) and northern Portugal from the Latin spoken by romanized Celtiberians about 1000 years ago. It spread worldwide in the 15th and 16th centuries as Portugal established a colonial and commercial empire (1415–1999) which spanned from Brazil in the Americas to Goa in India and Macau in China. During that time, many creole languages based on Portuguese also appeared around the world, especially in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
Today it is one of the world's major languages, ranked sixth according to number of native speakers (over 200 million). It is the language with the largest number of speakers in South America (188 million, over 51% of the continent's population), and also a major lingua franca in Africa. It is the official language of nine countries (see the table on the right), being co-official with Spanish and French in Equatorial Guinea, with Chinese in the Chinese special administrative region of Macau, and with Tetum in East Timor.
In July 2007, President Teodoro Obiang Ngumema announced his government's decision to make Portuguese Equatorial Guinea's third official language, in order to meet the requirements to apply for full membership of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. This upgrading from its current Associate Observer condition would result in Equatorial Guinea being able to access several professional and academic exchange programs and the facilitation of cross-border circulation of citizens. Its application is currently being assessed by other CPLP members.
Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes once called Portuguese "the sweet language", whereas Brazilian writer Olavo Bilac poetically described it as a última flor do Lácio, inculta e bela: "the last flower of Latium, wild and beautiful".
Portuguese is the official language of Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe and Mozambique. It is also one of the official languages of Equatorial Guinea (with Spanish and French), East Timor (with Tetum) and of the Chinese S.A.R. of Macau (with Chinese). It is widely spoken, but not official, in Andorra, Luxembourg, Namibia and Paraguay (in the latter country there were 112,520 native Portuguese speakers according to the 2002 census), and in the U.S. states of California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. There is also a statistically significant Portuguese-speaking community (approximately 10,000 people) in Jersey. Portuguese Creoles are, while not officially recognized, the standard language for communication in Cape Verde and part of Guinea-Bissau's population. In Cape Verde most also speak standard Portuguese and have native level proficiency. There are also significant populations of Portuguese speakers in Canada (mainly concentrated in and around Toronto) and Bermuda. There are also small populations of speakers in the former Portuguese colonies of Goa and Daman and Diu which are now part of India.