Spanish evolved from Vulgar (colloquial) Latin, and is a Romance language from the Indo-European language family. Due to Spanish originating in the Castile region of Spain, it is also known as Castilian (Castellano). Although Spanish and Castilian seem to be synonyms of each other, with organisations using these terms interchangeably, the Spanish Constitution of 1978 defines the official language of Spain as Castilian to differentiate it from the other languages spoken in the country, namely Galician, Basque, and Catalan.
Spanish claims second place on the list of most spoken languages according to number of native speakers, with a 2015 study revealing 470 million people using Spanish as their primary language and a further 90 million speaking it as a second language. Spanish is recorded as the official language in more than 20 countries worldwide, including Spain, Hispanic America, and Equatorial Guinea. It is also commonly spoken in Gibraltar, Switzerland, the United States of America, and Morocco, to name just a few. In addition, Spanish is an official language of the United Nations, and the European and African Unions.
Due to the large geographic area over which Spanish is spoken, many different dialects can be found. Although these regional vernaculars are not dissimilar enough to prevent easy communication, dialects do vary slightly according to location, and the same word can have a different meaning in the various districts. Dialects might also contain terms particular to the people and area in which they are used. It is largely agreed that Portuguese- and Spanish speakers can understand each other with varying degrees of comprehension, with the breakdown in understanding occurring mostly due to pronunciation, and not grammar or vocabulary.
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