Spanish Language Data Points (and Fun Facts)

Spanish is a Romance language originated in Castile, a region of Spain. In 1492, Christopher Columbus took Spanish to the Americas and at the beginning of the 16th century, the use of Spanish was expanded to all colonies of the Spanish Empire, including territories in Africa, Oceania and the Philippines.

In 2015, it was estimated that more than 500 million people speak Spanish as a native language and that more than 21 million students were studying Spanish as a foreign language. It is the official or national language in 21 different countries and one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

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

  • Different ways to refer to the Spanish language. Spanish is sometimes called español (“Spanish”) and sometimes castellano (“Castilian”).
  • Easy to pronounce. It is one of the world’s most phonetic languages. You can practically pronounce any word correctly by knowing how it is spelled.
  • Unique uses. The inverted question mark (¿) and exclamation point (¡) are unique to the Spanish language.
  • Spanish in the U.S. There are 53 million Spanish-speakers in the United States and it is estimated that in 2050 it will become the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. It is the most popular second language studied in the U.S.
  • Clinical trial locations. According to, more than 20,000 clinical trials are being conducted in countries where Spanish is an official language. In South America, there are currently over 7,000 trials in progress. For a region-by-region breakdown, visit
  • What to translate. Depending on the clinical trial document to be translated and the country where you will submit it, there are certain documents that do not require translation. In Spain, only the synopsis and patient facing documentation (such as the Informed Consent Form and Patient Information Sheet) must be translated into Spanish. The rest of the protocol can be submitted in English. On the contrary, in Latin America the entire protocol needs to be translated, while in the United States, only the patient facing documentation needs to be translated into Spanish.
  • Translation tip: Be aware of target country. There are differences between Spanish (Spain) and Spanish (Latin America). The main differences are at the lexical level, however, in some cases, different vocabulary is used depending on the country. That is why the target country is an important factor to consider during the translation and localization process.

And for a few fun facts…

  • There is no tooth fairy in Spain. Instead, the Spanish have a legend called ‘Ratoncito Perez’ who exchanges children’s teeth for gifts.
  • I’m loving it! There are more than 108 McDonald’s in Puerto Rico. In fact, it is the country of Latin America’s first McDonald’s. Interested in where the other 30,000+ locations are? Click here to find out.
  • Let’s socialize! As of June 2016, 243 million Facebook users identified themselves as Spanish speakers.

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