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Spanish i/ˈspænɪʃ/ (español), also called Castilian i/kæsˈtɪliən/ (castellano listen (help·info)), is a Romance language that originated in Castile, a region of Spain. Approximately 414 million people speak Spanish as a native language, making it second only to Mandarin in terms of its number of native speakers worldwide. There are more than 500 million Spanish speakers as a first or second language, and 20 million students of Spanish as a foreign language. Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations, and it is used as an official language by the European Union, Mercosur, and thePacific Alliance. Spanish is spoken fluently by 15% of all Europeans, making it the 5th-most spoken language in Europe.
Spanish is a part of the Ibero-Romance group of languages, which evolved from several dialects of common Latin in Iberiaafter the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century. It was first documented in central-northern Iberia in the ninth century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia. From its beginnings, Spanish vocabulary was influenced by its contact with Basque, as well as by other Ibero-Romance languages, and later it absorbed many Arabic words during the Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula. It also adopted many words from non-Iberian languages, particularly the Romance languages Occitan, French, Italian and Sardinian and increasingly fromEnglish in modern times, as well as adding its own new words. Spanish was taken to the colonies of the Spanish Empire in the sixteenth century, most notably to the Americas as well as territories in Africa, Oceania and the Philippines.