Spanish is considered a Romance language. It originated in the Castile region of Spain. Approximately 470 million people speak Spanish as a native language, making it second only to Mandarin in terms of the number of native speakers worldwide. An estimated 548 million people speak Spanish as a first or second language. This includes speakers with limited competence and 20 million students who chose Spanish as a foreign language.
Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. It is also used as an official language by the European Union, the Organization of American States, and the Union of South American Nations, and many other international organizations.
Spanish is a part of the Ibero-Romance group of languages, which evolved from several dialects of common Latin in Iberia after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century. It was first documented in central-northern Iberia in the 9th century and slowly spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia. Since the early 16th century, Spanish was carried to the colonies of the Spanish Empire, most notably to the Americas, as well as territories in Africa, Oceania and the Philippines.