Spanish Language Data Points and Fun Facts

welocalize November 15, 2018

Spanish is a Romance language that 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 the colonies of the Spanish Empire, including territories in Africa, Oceania and the Philippines.

It is estimated that more than 430 million people speak Spanish, making it the second most widely spoken language in the world. 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. New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows an increase in U.S. language diversity. The largest numerical increase from 2010 to 2017 were among speakers of Spanish (up four million). Languages with more than a million speakers in 2017 included: Spanish (41 million); Chinese (3.5 million); Tagalog (1.7 million); Vietnamese (1.5 million); Arabic (1.2 million); French (1.2 million); and Korean (1.1 million).
  • Clinical trial locations. According to, more than 3,500 studies being conducted or currently recruiting in Spain. There are over 15,000 trials in progress or recruiting in Mexico, Central America and South America combined. 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 over 500 McDonald’s in Spain. Interested in where the other 30,000+ locations are? Click here to find out.
  • Let’s socialize! As of December 2017, there are 22 million Facebook users in Spain. (Source: Internet World Stats)

Welocalize Life Sciences is an ISO 9001, ISO 13485 and ISO 17100 certified language services company that specializes in translation for the life sciences industry.  Contact us if you’re in need of professional medical, clinical or regulatory Spanish translation services. Please also follow us on Twitter: @Welocalize_LS.