Portuguese Language Data Points (and Fun Facts)

Portuguese is a western Romance language with approximately 215 to 220 million native speakers and 260 million total speakers. Portuguese is usually listed as the sixth most natively spoken language in the world and the third-most spoken European language in the world, in terms of native speakers.

Here is a collection of Portuguese language data points and fun facts to help you on your global journey:

  • Universally Portuguese. According to estimates by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Portuguese is the fastest growing European language after English.
  • Portuguese nations. There are eight members in the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa (CPLP): Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, The Republic of Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and East Timor.
  • Going online. There are 158 million Portuguese speakers online, making it the 5th most common language used on the internet.
  • Romance language. Many aspects of the Portuguese language are shared with all the Romance languages (languages that come from Latin), such as Spanish, Italian, Romanian and French.
  • By the numbers. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, in 2011, 673,000+ people spoke Portuguese at home.
  • Galician. The Romance language also known as Galego is spoken by about 3 million Spanish people in Galicia, the northwest corner of Spain (border with Portugal). It is considered the closest language to Portuguese and it shares the same origins.
  • Clinical trials. There are over 1,700 current clinical trials underway in Brazil and 775 in Portugal.


And for a few fun facts:

  • Get hired. The top social media channels for recruiting Portuguese professionals are, in order: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The top job boards are: net-empregos.com, emprego.sapo.pt and olx.pt.
  • Phone home. The first pre-paid phone card came from Portugal in 1995.
  • One and only. Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas, giving it a national culture sharply distinct from its Spanish-speaking neighbors. Brazilian Portuguese has had its own development, influenced by the Amerindian and African languages. Due to this, the language is somewhat different from that spoken in Portugal and other Portuguese-speaking countries, mainly due to phonological differences.
  • Forbidden names. The Portuguese government has an 80-page list of illegal names, or names prohibited to name your baby. For example, ‘Ovnis’ is on the list. In Portuguese it means ‘UFO.’
  • Where it all began. In 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas was signed which essentially gave Portugal the eastern half of the “New Word,” including Brazil, Africa, and Asia. The Portuguese Empire was the first global Empire in history.  It was also one of the longest-lived colonial powers, lasting for almost six centuries from when Ceuta was captured in 1415, until Macau (now China) was handed-over in 1999.

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