Portuguese is a Romance language that originated in what is now Galicia and northern Portugal.
Today it is one of the world’s major languages, ranked seventh according to number of native speakers (between 191 and 230 million).
Where do they speak Portuguese?
It is the language of about half of South America’s population, even though Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas. It is also a major lingua franca in Portugal’s former colonial possessions in Africa.
It is an official language in nine countries, also being co-official with Cantonese Chinese in Macau and Tetum in East Timor. There are sizeable communities of Portuguese speakers in various regions of North America, notably in the United States and in Ontario, Canada.
Where did the Portuguese language come from?
It is derived from the Latin spoken by the Romanized pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula (namely the Gallic, the Lusitanians, the Celtici and the Conii) around 2000 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 and other parts of India, Macau in China and Timor (north of Australia).
It was used as the exclusive lingua franca on the island of Sri Lanka for almost 350 years. During that time, many creole languages based on Portuguese also appeared around the world, especially in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.
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