Portuguese is the language of Brazil, which is the fifth most populous country in the world, has the seventh largest economy in the world and the second largest economy in the Americas. It is essential for anyone interested in making business and cultural connections between North and South America.
Worldwide, about 260 million people speak Portuguese as their primary language (over 83 percent of these people are Brazilians). In addition to Brazil and Portugal, Portuguese is the official language of Angola, Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and the São Tomé and Príncipe Islands. It is estimated that the Portuguese-speaking African countries will have a combined population of 83 million by 2050.
Portuguese is one of the world's eight most widely spoken languages. Of those eight, Spanish and English are the only other European languages. Portuguese is usually listed as the sixth most spoken language in the world, the third most spoken European language and the major language of the Southern Hemisphere. It is also the most spoken language in South America (51%) and the second most spoken in Latin America, after Spanish, as well as an official language of the European Union and Mercosul. Since 1991, when Brazil formed Mercosul/Mercosur (Southern Common Market in English), with Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela, there has been an increase in interest in the study of Portuguese in those South American countries, and the Portuguese language is now a mandatory offering in school curricula in Uruguay and Argentina.
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