Number of Portuguese Speakers

The global count of Portuguese speakers is estimated to be around 250 million.

Number of Portuguese Speakers
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Published on
Oct 12, 2023
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Portuguese is a widely spoken language, with an estimated 260 million people speaking it across the world. While it is the official language of Portugal, Brazil, and several other countries, Portuguese is also spoken as a second language by many people in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

In this section, we will explore the global reach of the Portuguese language and delve into the diverse communities of people who speak Portuguese around the world. From native speakers to those who have learned the language as a second language, Portuguese continues to connect people and communities worldwide.

Key Takeaways:

  • Portuguese is spoken by an estimated 260 million people globally.
  • It is the official language of Portugal, Brazil, and several other countries.
  • Portuguese is also spoken as a second language worldwide.
  • Portuguese connects people and communities worldwide.

Portuguese Language Proficiency

Portuguese language proficiency is measured by a person's ability to speak, read, write, and understand the Portuguese language. There are millions of bilingual speakers of Portuguese around the world, ranging from those who have basic conversational skills to those who are fluent in the language.

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is a widely recognized system for measuring language proficiency. It divides learners into six levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. A1 and A2 are considered basic proficiency, B1 and B2 are intermediate proficiency, and C1 and C2 are advanced proficiency.

Proficiency in the Portuguese language can be achieved through various means, including formal language courses, immersion programs, self-study, and language exchange programs. A person's Portuguese language skills can be enhanced through consistent practice and exposure to the language.

Portuguese-Speaking Communities

Portuguese-speaking communities are scattered throughout the world, creating vibrant corners where the language thrives. These communities are diverse, ranging from native speakers to those who have embraced the language as their own.

Brazilian Portuguese-Speaking Community

The largest Portuguese-speaking community is in Brazil, where Portuguese is the official language. With a population of over 200 million, Brazil has over 170 million Portuguese speakers, making it the largest Portuguese-speaking nation in the world. The Brazilian Portuguese dialect is distinct from the European Portuguese dialect, with differences in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.

Portuguese-Speaking Communities in Europe

Portuguese is also spoken widely throughout Europe, particularly in Portugal, where it is the official language. Other European countries with significant Portuguese-speaking communities include France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Andorra.

Portuguese-Speaking Communities in Africa

Portuguese is widely spoken in several African nations, including Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and Sao Tome and Principe. These communities are a combination of native speakers and those who have learned Portuguese as a second language due to colonial pasts.

Portuguese-Speaking Communities in Asia

Portuguese is spoken in several Asian countries, including East Timor, Macau, and Goa. In these places, Portuguese has been influenced by local languages, resulting in unique dialects and vocabularies.

Overall, the Portuguese language has created thriving communities across the globe, connecting people through shared culture and heritage.

The Global Impact of Portuguese

The Portuguese language has a significant impact on global trade, international relations, and cultural exchanges. As one of the world's major languages, Portuguese is the official language of nine countries, spanning across four continents. With over 260 million people speaking Portuguese worldwide, it is the fifth most spoken language in the world, and the third most spoken language in the Western Hemisphere, after Spanish and English.

Portuguese plays a crucial role in the global economy, with countries such as Brazil, Angola, and Portugal among the world's top emerging markets. In recent years, Portuguese has gained importance in international trade, and countries such as China, Japan, and the United States have started to invest in Portuguese language education and cultural exchanges to strengthen their economic ties with Portuguese-speaking nations.

Additionally, Portuguese is a significant language in diplomatic relations. Countries such as Brazil and Portugal have been advocating for Portuguese to become an official language within the United Nations, emphasizing its relevance as a global language and its contribution to cultural diversity.

Furthermore, the Portuguese language has a rich cultural heritage, with notable literary figures such as Fernando Pessoa and Nobel Prize laureate José Saramago. Portuguese language and culture are also celebrated annually on June 10th, on Portuguese Language Day, which recognizes the importance of the Portuguese language in cultural diversity and encourages the promotion of the language through education and cultural activities.

The Growing Importance of Portuguese

The Portuguese language is becoming increasingly popular among language learners, with a growing demand for Portuguese language courses and resources. With the rise of Portuguese-speaking economies, the language has gained relevance in fields such as business, finance, and tourism.

Moreover, the increasing global importance of Portuguese has created new opportunities for Portuguese language professionals, including translators, interpreters, and language teachers, who are in high demand both in Portuguese-speaking countries and internationally.

In conclusion, the global impact of the Portuguese language is significant, with its influence extending beyond its native regions, connecting people globally and enriching cultural exchanges. Its growing importance in international relations, trade, and cultural diversity underscores the need for continued investment in Portuguese language education and promotion.

Native Portuguese Speakers

The number of native Portuguese speakers worldwide is estimated to be around 220 million, making it the sixth most spoken language in the world. The majority of these speakers reside in Brazil, where Portuguese is the official language. In fact, Brazil accounts for approximately 80% of all native Portuguese speakers.

Other countries with significant native Portuguese-speaking populations include Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde. Portuguese is also widely spoken in several former Portuguese colonies in Asia, including East Timor and Macau.

  • Brazil: 210 million
  • Portugal: 10 million
  • Angola: 3 million
  • Mozambique: 2 million
  • Cape Verde: 500,000

Native Portuguese speakers are not limited to these countries, however. There are also millions of Portuguese speakers in the United States, Canada, and other countries around the world with significant Portuguese-speaking communities.

It is worth noting that within the Portuguese language itself, there are several regional dialects that vary in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. For instance, Brazilian Portuguese differs from European Portuguese in pronunciation and vocabulary, among other things.

Portuguese Language Experts

There are many individuals who have achieved expertise in the Portuguese language, from linguists and translators to language professors and researchers.

One such expert is Dr. Ana Maria Carvalho, a linguistics professor at the University of Arizona who focuses on Portuguese and its dialects. She has published numerous articles and books on the topic, including "Portuguese Syntax" and "The Handbook of Portuguese Linguistics."

Another well-known expert is Maria Augusta da Costa Vieira, a Brazilian translator who has worked on many literary works from Portuguese to English, including books by Paulo Coelho and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

There are also many Portuguese language schools and programs around the world, such as the Lisbon School of Economics and Management and the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, that employ experts in the language to teach students at various proficiency levels.

These experts play a crucial role in advancing the study and understanding of the Portuguese language, as well as its cultural and historical significance.

Portuguese Language Learning Trends

The popularity of learning the Portuguese language has been on a steady rise in recent years, with a growing number of language schools and online courses offering Portuguese language classes. According to a report by the British Council, Portuguese is one of the top ten languages to learn for business purposes, with over 220 million speakers worldwide.

Portuguese language proficiency is highly valued, especially in industries such as technology, finance, and tourism. Many businesses are seeking bilingual speakers of Portuguese to expand their operations and reach a wider audience.

Moreover, the motivation to learn Portuguese goes beyond business purposes. Portuguese is a beautiful and melodious language, making it a popular choice for cultural and linguistic enthusiasts. Additionally, individuals who plan to visit or live in Portuguese-speaking countries often take Portuguese language courses to enhance their experience and communicate effectively with the local people.

With the increasing demand for Portuguese language proficiency, there are now many online resources available for learners to improve their skills. These include language exchange platforms, mobile apps, and podcasts. Many learners also choose to take the official proficiency exam, which is recognized by employers and universities globally.

Online Learning

  • Online Portuguese language courses are now available for learners of all levels, from beginner to advanced.
  • Learning materials such as interactive exercises, audio recordings, and video tutorials are easily accessible online.
  • Online language exchange platforms allow learners to practice their conversation skills with native speakers.

Portuguese Language Proficiency Exams

  • The Diplomas de Português como Língua Estrangeira (DPLE) is the official proficiency exam for Portuguese language learners.
  • The DPLE is recognized by universities, employers, and government entities worldwide.
  • The exam is available for learners of all levels, from beginner to advanced.

Overall, the popularity of Portuguese language learning is expected to continue to rise as more people recognize the benefits of being bilingual in Portuguese. With the availability of online resources, it is now easier than ever to learn this widely spoken language and open countless new opportunities for personal and professional growth.


In conclusion, the Portuguese language has a global reach that extends far beyond Portugal. With over 250 million people speaking Portuguese worldwide, the language serves as a means of communication and connection between diverse communities.

From native Portuguese speakers in Brazil to Portuguese language experts in Angola, the language has a significant impact on global culture, trade, and international relations. As the popularity of Portuguese language courses continues to grow, we can expect to see the number of people speaking Portuguese increase in the coming years.

Overall, the Portuguese language is a vital part of our global community, enabling us to connect and communicate across borders and cultures. The rich history and cultural significance of the language will continue to inspire new generations to embrace Portuguese and become part of the dynamic and growing community of people speaking Portuguese.