Spanish is a global language that is undergoing significant and steady growth. It is among the top five languages in the world in terms of number of speakers, the number of countries where it enjoys official status and in geographic extension. It is an official language of the United Nations and a language of reference in international relations.
The latest edition of the Cervantes Institute yearbook provides some data that reflect the magnitude of Spanish today. With almost 500 million people, it is the second mother tongue in the world in terms of number of speakers, and the third language in global terms, encompassing native speakers, limited proficiency and learners of Spanish, reaching almost 600 million. Spanish is also the third most widely used language on the Internet.
Aware of its importance, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation has set up the Directorate General for Spanish Language in the World, under the aegis of the Secretary of State for Ibero-America and the Caribbean and for Spanish around the World. Its objective is to ensure the coherence of the State's action in the projection of the language abroad and to optimise the full potential that Spanish offers in the international sphere.
Within its lines of action, the Directorate General is responsible for promoting the role of Spanish as a factor in economic growth and international competitiveness; fostering its expansion both in traditional areas and in the fields of communication, science, technology, innovation and accessibility, and contributing to the greater integration of the Spanish-speaking community worldwide.