Portuguese language

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Portuguese (português or língua portuguesa) is a Romance language developed from Galician-Portuguese that was spoken in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia. It is an official language of the European Union, the Organisation of American States, the African Union, and Lusophone countries. It has around 272.9 million speakers making it the fifth-most spoken language in the world. Portuguese is the third-most spoken language in the Western Hemisphere (after English and Spanish, and the most spoken in the Southern Hemisphere.[1]

During the Age of Exploration, Portuguese sailors were among the first to sail to distant locations in the Americas, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Eastern Asia. The exploration was followed by the attempts to colonise new lands by Portugal and as a result Portuguese became a widely dispersed language around the world. Alongside Portugal, Portuguese is the main mother tongue of Brazil. It is also widely used as a lingua franca in former Portuguese colonies of Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Guiné-Bissau and São Tomé e Príncipe, all of which are in Africa.[2] Additionally Portuguese speakers are also found in the Asian territories of Macau, East Timor and Goa (in India), all of which were Portuguese colonies until the second half of the 20th century.[3]

Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes once called Portuguese "the sweet language",[4] Lope de Vega referred to it as "sweet",[5] while Brazilian writer Olavo Bilac poetically described it as a última flor do Lácio, inculta e bela (the last flower of Latium, wild and beautiful). Portuguese is also termed "the language of Camões",[6] after one of Portugal's best known literary figures, Luís Vaz de Camões.


  1. Herles Matos, Frank The 100 most spoken languages on the world.
  2. Estados-membros da CPLP.
  3. Michael Swan, Bernard Smith (2001). "Portuguese Speakers". Learner English: a Teacher's Guide to Interference and Other Problems. Cambridge University Press. 
  4. Henry Edward Watts. Miguel de Cervantes: His Life & Works. 
  5. Joseph T. Shipley (1946). Encyclopedia of Literature. Philosophical Library. pp. 1188. 
  6. Prem Poddar, Rajeev S. Patke, Lars Jensen (2008). "Introduction: The Myths and Realities of Portuguese (Post) Colonial Society". A historical companion to postcolonial literatures: continental Europe and its empires. Edinburgh University Press. p. 431. http://books.google.com/books?id=Ghah5S3usnsC&pg=PA431&lpg=PA431&dq=%22language+of+Cam%C3%B5es%22&source=bl&ots=hwlisq30fA&sig=Ey_lGKdqy-GVN5FO6yAirCW8PqU&hl=en&ei=sDh5TIqxIcHflgfAwrDsCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=27&ved=0CIMBEOgBMBo#v=onepage&q=%22language%20of%20Cam%C3%B5es%22&f=false. 
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