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Portuguese Language Blog

Portuguese-Speaking Countries Posted by on Nov 19, 2010 in Geography

While Transparent’s Portuguese Blog’s main focus is on Brazil and Brazilian Portuguese, it’s also important to know where else Portuguese is spoken in the world!


Here are the countries where Portuguese is the official language:

1. Portugal (population: 10 million) The birthplace of this beautiful language, there are around twelve dialects, ranging from Açoriano to Lisboeta.

2. Brazil (population: 201 million) The largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world, there are at least 13 dialects. Brazilian Portuguese is quite different from continental Portuguese, especially spoken Brazilian Portuguese, but grammar and written Brazilian Portuguese more closely follow European Portuguese.

3. Angola (population: 13 million) This African nation was colonized by the Portuguese and was ruled by Portugal for centuries – it didn’t become an independent country until 1975. Though Portuguese is the official language, there are four regional indigenous languages as well. There are around four recognized Portuguese dialects

4. Mozambique (population: 22 million) Colonized by the Portuguese in the 1500s and recognized as independent in 1975, this East African country’s official language is Portuguese, but Swahili, Makhuwa, and Sena are also spoken. The country is divided into 11 provinces, including the capital.

5. Cape Verde (population: 508,600) These islands were colonized by the Portuguese in the 1400s, and became independent in 1975. Portuguese is the official language, but people also speak Crioulo, a mixture of Portuguese and West African vocabulary.

6. Guinea-Bissau (population: 1.6 million) This small West African national was a part of the Mali Empire until it was conquered by the Portuguese in the 1800s. Like in Cape Verde, Portuguese is the official language, but people also speak a Portuguese Creole known as Kriol, as well as languages native to the region.

7. São Tomé and Príncipe (population: 163,00) The smallest Portuguese-speaking country in the world, this country was settled by the Portuguese in the 1470s and gained its independence in 1975.

Other Portuguese-speaking regions

Equitorial Guinea – Portuguese is one of three official languages in this small West African nation (Spanish and French are the other two). The Spanish and Portuguese both colonized here, and the country gained its independence in 1968 from Spain.

East Timor – Portuguese is one of two official languages (Tetum is the other) in this southeast Asian state. It was colonized by the Portuguese in the 1500s and declared independence in yes, you guessed it, 1975.

Macau – an administrative region of China, the Portuguese first settled this coastal region in the 1500s. Portugal “administered” Macau until 1999, when it was turned over to China, though it remains a semi-autonomous region. Though Portuguese is still spoken there, Cantonese is the most commonly spoken language.

Goa – this is a western state in India where the Portuguese settled in 1510.  Portuguese is less common now, since Konkani is the most spoken language.

Uruguay – in the border region near Brazil, some people speak Riverense Portunhol, a mixture of Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish.

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