Latin American Spanish Language Data Points (and interesting facts)

Of the 469 million Spanish speakers worldwide, 418 million (90%) people live in Latin America and the United States. Targeting the correct form of Spanish and utilizing a strong cultural adaptation within these markets is very important.

Simply translating source content into Spanish for all Spanish-speaking nations is not effective. The content should be adapted and sometimes recreated to take into consideration all the local nuances.

Here is a collection of other language and country data points and tips to help you on your global journey:

  • Countries and regions in Latin America. Spanish is the official language of the following 20 countries and regions in Latin America: Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Paraguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Panama and Uruguay.
  • Accents and dialects. When translating audio material, accents are an important consideration when translating across multiple Spanish speaking regions with a large variety of accents. The Colombian accent is less distinct than others, and can be used across multiple South American countries without creating difficulties in understanding.
  • Online opportunities. In South America, over 42% of the population has internet access. However, only 17% of people in Central America are connected. (Source: World Internet Statistics, 2017)
  • Indigenous languages. In many parts of Latin America, Spanish shares official language status with one or more indigenous languages. Below are a few examples. For a full list, visit About World Languages.
    • In Peru, Spanish is the official national language, while Quechua and Aymara hold co-official status in certain regions.
    • In Ecuador, Spanish is the official language. The Kichwa (and Shuar languages hold co-official status in certain regions.
    • In Bolivia, the constitution recognizes Spanish and various indigenous languages of Bolivia as official at the national level, though Spanish is predominant nationwide.
    • In Paraguay, Spanish and the indigenous Guaraní are recognized as co-official at the national level and both are widely used.
    • Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the U.S. where Spanish and English are the official languages and Spanish is the primary language.
  • Growth in pharma. Drug manufacturers continue to look to emerging markets to fuel their growth. Latin America is one of the principal growth regions, with an average growth of 12% per year from 2008 to 2017, according to America’s Market Intelligence (AMI). Significant market factors include: increased urbanization, greater access to education and surge in generic drugs.
  • Clinical trials. There are 11,626 clinical studies currently registered in Spanish-speaking LATAM countries. The main countries and regions where these studies are taking place are Mexico, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Chile and Colombia. (Source: ClinicalTrials.gov)
  • Competitive landscape. According to a 2014 report from GlobalData, approximately $12.7 billion have been invested in Latin America’s pharmaceutical market through mergers and acquisitions in recent years, and this level of investment is expected to continue. According to the report, the number of pharma-related M&As in the region increased by 214% between 2008 and 2012.

Fun Facts about Latin America (Sources: Select Latin America, Fact Retriever and Statista.com):

  • Size. The smallest country in Central America is El Salvador.
  • Rich coastline. Costa Rica means “rich coast.” This country got this name because of the 800 miles of coastline between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.
  • The poorest President. The 2010-2015 Uruguayan President, Jose Mujica, was considered the poorest president; he donated 90% of his income to charity.
  • Not loving it. Bolivians enjoy eating from local vendors on the street, rather than paying for meals from large chains. Because of this lifestyle, Bolivia became the first Latin American country to get rid of McDonald’s.
  • Beauty queens. The people of Venezuela have won the most beauty pageant titles compared to any other country in the world.
  • Raining fish. In Yoro, Honduras, it literally rains fish during the heaviest rain season between May and June. Find out more here.
  • Gem production. Colombia produces more than 90% of the world’s emeralds.
  • Latin America dances. Mambo, salsa, cha-cha-cha, rumba and tango dances all come from Latin America.
  • Text me a video. In South America, 49% of consumers use mobile messaging and 38% watch videos online. YouTube is one of the most popular sites in Latin America. (Source: Statista.com)

Contact us if you’re in need of professional translation, interpretation or website localization services for the Latin American marketplace.