The 7 Languages Spoken in Spain (1)

The 7 Languages Spoken in Spain: A Linguistic Tapestry

Languages spoken in Spain form a fascinating tapestry of linguistic diversity. Spain, a vibrant and diverse country known for its rich culture, history, and breathtaking landscapes, is equally diverse when it comes to its languages. 

Beyond the universally recognized Spanish, there are six other languages spoken within its borders, each with its own unique history, roots, and community of speakers. From the melodious flow of Catalan to the ancient Basque tongue, the linguistic landscape of Spain is a fascinating tapestry. 

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the seven languages spoken in Spain, exploring their origins, influences, regions of usage, and how they’ve shaped the country’s linguistic identity.

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How Many Languages Does Spain Speak?

Spain is a country renowned for its linguistic diversity, boasting a rich tapestry of languages. In total, there are seven distinct languages spoken within its borders, each with its own unique characteristics and historical significance. 

While Spanish, often referred to as Castilian, is the official language and the most widely spoken, the regional languages contribute significantly to the country’s cultural mosaic. These languages include:

The 7 Languages Spoken in Spain

1. Spanish (Castillan)

Origin and History:

Spanish, also known as Castilian, is a Romance language that traces its roots to Vulgar Latin, the spoken language of the Roman Empire. The earliest written records of Spanish date back to the Glosas Emilianenses, Latin glosses written in the margins of religious texts around the 10th century.

The standardization and codification of Spanish can be attributed to the publication of the “Gramática de la lengua castellana” (Grammar of the Castilian Language) by Antonio de Nebrija in 1492, a pivotal moment in the language’s evolution.


Spanish is the most widely spoken language in Spain and serves as the country’s official language. Globally, it boasts over 460 million native speakers, making it the second most spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese.

Geographical Distribution:

Spanish is spoken throughout Spain and holds official status across the entire country. It is the dominant language in the central and southern regions, including the capital city, Madrid. Additionally, Spanish is widely spoken in Latin America and other Spanish-speaking communities worldwide.

Understanding Spanish is key to appreciating the culture, history, and daily life of Spain and its significant influence on the global stage.

Read More: What Are The Differences Between Castilian Spanish And Latin American Spanish?

2. Catalan

Origin and History:

Catalan is a Romance language, closely related to other Ibero-Romance languages like Spanish, Portuguese, and Occitan. Its roots can be traced back to the Vulgar Latin spoken by the Romans during their rule over the Iberian Peninsula.

The earliest written records of Catalan date back to the 12th century, showcasing the language’s historical importance and literary tradition. Over the centuries, Catalan has evolved and developed its unique linguistic characteristics, influenced by the diverse cultures and languages it has come into contact with.


Catalan is primarily spoken in Catalonia, an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, where it holds co-official status alongside Spanish. It is also spoken in the Valencian Community, the Balearic Islands, and a small part of France.

Approximately 9 million people are native Catalan speakers, making it one of the most widely spoken Romance languages in Europe.

Geographical Distribution:

  • Catalonia: As the heartland of the Catalan language, Catalonia is where the majority of speakers reside. Catalan is the official language here, used in education, government, and media.
  • Valencian Community: Catalan is also spoken in the Valencian Community, particularly in the provinces of Castellón, Valencia, and Alicante. In this region, it’s known as Valencian.
  • Balearic Islands: In the Balearic Islands, Catalan is an official language, used in administration, education, and media.

3. Galician

Origin and History:

Galician, also known as Galego, is a Romance language closely related to Portuguese. Its origins can be traced back to the Galician-Portuguese language, which was widely spoken in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages. Over time, Galician evolved into a distinct linguistic entity, developing its grammar, vocabulary, and phonetics.


Galician is primarily spoken in Galicia, an autonomous community in northwestern Spain. Approximately 2.4 million people speak Galician as their first language, and it is an official language of Galicia, alongside Spanish.

Geographical Distribution:

  • Galicia: Galician is most prominently spoken in the autonomous community of Galicia, where it holds official status and is used in government, education, and media. It is the region’s primary language.

4. Basque

Origin and History:

Basque, or Euskara, is one of the most unique languages in the world, often referred to as a “language isolate” due to its lack of proven genetic relationship with any other language. Its origins are mysterious and predate the arrival of Indo-European languages in the region.

The Basque language has a rich oral tradition and was primarily transmitted through generations via oral communication until the development of a standardized written form.


Basque is predominantly spoken in the Basque Country, an autonomous community in northern Spain, and Navarre, a region in northern Spain bordering France. It is estimated that around 700,000 to 1 million people speak Basque worldwide.

Geographical Distribution:

  • Basque Country: Basque is most prominently spoken in the Basque Country, which spans parts of northern Spain and southwestern France. It is one of the region’s official languages, alongside Spanish.
  • Navarre: Basque is also spoken in the autonomous community of Navarre, where it holds co-official status with Spanish.

5. Occitan

Origin and History:

Occitan, also known as the Langue d’Oc, is a Romance language that emerged from Latin during the Middle Ages. Historically, it was widely spoken across southern France and parts of northern Spain.


In Spain, Occitan is mainly spoken in Val d’Aran, a valley located in the Pyrenees mountains. It’s important to note that the number of speakers has declined over the years, making it a minority language in this region.

Geographical Distribution:

  • Val d’Aran: Occitan is most prominently spoken in Val d’Aran, a region in Catalonia. It has official status alongside Catalan and Spanish.

6. Asturian

Origin and History:

Asturian, also known as Bable, is a Romance language that evolved from Latin and was historically spoken in the Kingdom of Asturias during the early Middle Ages. It has preserved many elements of the ancient Astures’ language.


Asturian is spoken by a minority of the population in the Principality of Asturias. Though the number of speakers has declined over the years, efforts are being made to revitalize and promote the language.

Geographical Distribution:

  • Principality of Asturias: Asturian is most prominently spoken in the Principality of Asturias. Efforts are being made to encourage its use in education and cultural contexts to preserve this ancient language.

7. Arabic

Origin and History:

Arabic, a Semitic language, has historical significance in Spain due to the Islamic rule from the 8th to the 15th centuries. The Moors, a Muslim group, established their rule in the Iberian Peninsula and significantly influenced the region’s culture and language during their presence.


Modern Arabic is spoken by a minority, particularly in regions with a historical Moorish influence, notably in southern Spain.

Geographical Distribution:

  • Andalusia and Southern Spain: Arabic influence is most notable in the southern regions of Spain, such as Andalusia, where the Moorish presence was historically significant. Elements of Arabic culture, architecture, and vocabulary can still be observed in these areas.

Celebrating Spain’s Linguistic Diversity

Spain, a country steeped in history and cultural richness, boasts a linguistic tapestry as diverse as its landscapes. From the widely spoken Spanish (Castilian) to the lesser-known yet equally significant languages like Catalan, Galician, Basque, Occitan, Asturian, and Arabic, Spain stands as a testament to linguistic diversity.

Each language offers a unique window into the historical, cultural, and social fabric of the regions it represents. Spanish, as the most widely spoken and official language, unifies the nation, while regional languages like Catalan and Galician reflect the unique identities of their respective regions.

Understanding and appreciating this linguistic mosaic is key to fully experiencing and embracing the beauty of Spain, its people, and its history. The languages of Spain are not just a means of communication; they are a reflection of the intricate, centuries-old tapestry that makes Spain the vibrant and diverse nation it is today.

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