A multilingual country
Spain is a south-western European country of almost 47M citizens whose territorial organisation includes seventeen autonomous communities and two extra autonomous cities, including the peninsular territory, 2 archipelagos and 2 cities in the north of Africa. However, despite being a unified country, it does not only have one official language.
According to the Spanish Constitution of 1978, it is specified that Spanish is the official language of the country and, that all Spanish inhabitants must know this official language and have the right to use it. Nevertheless, depending on the region you live in, you can also find several co-official languages that contributes to the cultural diversity of Spain. So, what are these languages?
Catalan is the second most spoken language in Spain. This language counts more than 10M native speakers including all the existing dialects and varieties. It is spoken not only in four autonomous communities in Spain, as it is also spoken in some other countries like Andorra, France and Italy:
- Catalonia: 97.4% of people understand it and 84.7% are native speakers.
- Valencian Community: 78.1% of people understand it and 57.5% are native speakers.
- Balearic Islands: 93.1% of people understand it and 74.6% are native speakers.
- “Franja de Poniente”: located next to Catalonia, in Aragon Community.
- Aran Valley: located in the Pyrenees, we can find that they speak Catalonian, Spanish and “Aranés”, an Occitan dialect.
- Occitanie: this region is located in the south of France, whose main city for Catalonian speakers is Perpignan. It is almost spoken by more than 150 000 inhabitants.
- Andorra: it is a small country located in the Pyrenees, between Spain and France. In here, Catalan is the only official language.
- Alghero: it is a small town of 45 000 inhabitants located in the Italian island of Sardinia, in the Mediterranean Sea. Currently, 25% of the population has it as their mother tongue.
Galician is the second most spoken co-official language in Spain. This language accounts for approximately 2M native speakers. In the past, it was part of the same linguistic block as Portuguese. Now, it is mostly spoken in Galicia (Spanish autonomous community), but also in some bordering places with Portugal or Galicia (some cities from Extremadura or “Castilla y León”).
Basque is the third most spoken co-official language in Spain. It is one of the non-Indo-European languages in Europe and it has an unknown origin. This language accounts for more than 1M native speakers including all the existing dialects and varieties, although the most used dialect is Euskera Batua. During the years, it has been absorbing some lexicon from Spanish and, in a minor scope, from French.
Let’s see where it is spoken:
- Basque country: it is a co-official language in this autonomous community located in the north of Spain.
- Chartered Community of Navarre: it is a co-official language in this autonomous community located in the north of Spain, next to Basque country and bordering with France.
- Treviño Enclave and Villaverde Valley: located in “Castilla y León” and Cantabria, respectively.
- Atlantic Pyrenees: this region is located in the southwest of France, in the Bay of Biscay and next to the Pyrenees.