Portugal is home to more than 10 million people, of which approximately 96% is of Portuguese descent. The remaining population is formed by the minority communities. The ethnic groups in Portugal include Spaniards, Iberians and Italians. Therefore, Portuguese is the commonly spoken language and the first language of the vast majority of the population. Aside from the Portuguese language, the people in Portugal have adopted the use of other foreign languages such as English, French and Spanish. Portuguese is the country’s official language, with English being the second most commonly spoken language.

As aforementioned, Portuguese is the official language of Portugal. It is an Indo-European Romance language with ten unique dialects spoken around Portugal. Portuguese is used in several other countries around the world which have had contact with Portugal over the years, with Brazil perhaps being the best known one. In Portugal, Portuguese is used in all areas of life, from daily interactions, business communication, to writing.

Aside from Portugal, other popular languages in Portugal include English, Spanish and French. English is the second most widely spoken language in Portugal, having become a major language in major cities and tourist regions such as Lisbon, despite having almost no native speakers within the country. There are also more English speakers in Portugal than there are in Spain. The growth of the English language in Portugal is mainly linked to the country’s small size, which helped open it to the outside influences, interaction with English and American media, movies and music, a close relationship with England, and the willingness and openness of the Portuguese people to learning foreign languages. English is also taught in schools as a second language and is gaining popularity among youth at a fairly quick rate.

Approximately 10% of the Portuguese population speaks Spanish. The Spanish language is also part of the Romance group of languages, which is why it has a close similarity to the Portuguese language. Thus, it is easy for Portuguese and Spanish people to understand each other.

The usage of French in Portugal has experienced a decline in the recent year, with the majority of the population showing preference for English over the French language. French was introduced in Portugal during the 19th century, where it remained popular until the 1970s. Nowadays, French is mostly spoken by the elderly residents of Portugal.

Another lesser-known language spoken in Portugal is Mirandese. Mirandese is an Astur-Leonese and an Indo-European language spoken by a small population – about 15,000 of them – who speak it as both a first and a second language. Mirandese is spoken in the northeast of Portugal, in three municipalities: Vimioso, Miranda do Douro and Mogaduro. Mirandese is recognized as a co-official regional language, along with Portuguese, and it has three distinct dialects: central, border and Sendinesse Mirandese.

Portuguese Sign Language, utilized by the deaf community in Portugal, is recognized by the country’s constitution and is used by about 60,000 people with hearing impairments.


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