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 has the second-largest economy in the Americas. Knowledge of Portuguese is essential for anyone interested in making business and cultural connections between North and South America.
Portuguese is one of the world's eight most widely spoken languages. Of those eight languages, 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 percent) and the second-most spoken language in Latin America, after Spanish.
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 also an official language of the European Union and the Mercosur ("southern common market") trade bloc.
Since 1991, when Brazil formed Mercosur with Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela, there has been an increased interest in the study of Portuguese in those South American countries, and Portuguese is now a mandatory course offering in school curricula in Uruguay and Argentina.
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