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Portuguese is a Romance language derived from Latin. It spread worldwide in the 15th and 16th centuries as Portugal established a colonial and commercial empire (1415 - 1999) which spanned from Brazil in the Americas to Goa and other parts of India, Macau in China, Timor (north of Australia) and Angola in Africa.

Today it is one of the world's major languages, ranked seventh according to the number of native speakers (between 205 and 230 million). It is the language of about half of South America's population, even though Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas. It is an official language in nine countries Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and São Tomé and Príncipe.

Currently 170 to 210 million people speak Portuguese throughout the the world. Portuguese is the eighth most widely spoken language in the world. It is the official language of seven countries, among them Brazil (176 million), Portugal (10 million), Angola (10.3 million), Cape Verde Islands (346,000), Guinea-Bissau (1 million), Mozambique (15.3 million) and Sao Tome and Principe Islands (126,000). In 1996, Portuguese became an official language is the European Union (EU), when Portugal joined the organization, as a result of the Mercosul agreements that created the free trade Latin American Common Market, which includes Brazil.(Culturegrams, 1990). Portuguese is being taught as a foreign language in the other memeber countries.

In 1996, the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP in Portuguese) was created. The purpose of this community is to increase cooperation and cultural exchanges among the member countries to create a uniform Portuguese standard and to increae the language.

Works Cited

Culturegrams: Brazil
London, Ont.: Axiom Press, Inc. 1990.