Spanish (español or castellano) is a Romance language that originated in northern Spain, and gradually spread in the Kingdom of Castile and evolved into the principal language of government and trade. It was taken most notably to the Americas, and also to Africa and Asia Pacific with the expansion of the Spanish Empire between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Today, 400 million people speak Spanish as a native language, making it the world's second most spoken language in terms of native speakers. However, it is fourth in terms of total speakers. Mexico contains the largest population of Spanish speakers.
Spanish is growing increasingly popular as a second or third language in a number of countries because of logistical, economic, and touristic interest towards the many nations which chiefly use Spanish as the primary language.
Spanish is recognized as one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization of American States, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the African Union, the Union of South American Nations, the Latin Union, and the Caricom - and has legal status in the North American Free Trade Agreement.
For a list of countries where Spanish is spoken see Category:Spanish-speaking_countries