There are 41 million people in the US who are native speakers of Spanish, and another 11.6 million who are bilingual — often the children of immigrants — for a grand total that surpasses Colombia's 48 million and Spain's 46 million, according to a report from the Instituto Cervantes.
That means there are over 50 million Americans (likely a lot more if you count anyone with a couple of high school language courses) who will understand this joke about Donald Trump, who was recently dropped by Univision and NBC for insulting Mexican immigrants.
— Cristy Garratt (@CristyGarratt) June 30, 2015
Mexico still boasts the largest Spanish speaking population, however, with 121 million hispanoparlantes.
Citing data from the US Census Office, the report notes that the United States is projected to have 138 million Spanish speakers by 2050, surpassing Mexico to become numero uno.
Unsurprisingly, the Southwestern states near the US-Mexico border have the highest concentrations of Spanish Speakers with New Mexico in the top spot (47%), followed by California and Texas tied for second (38%) and Arizona at third (36%).
West Virginia has the lowest proportion of Spanish speakers — at 1.3%, while just over 18% of New Yorkers hablan español.
— Day Translations (@DayTranslations) March 5, 2015
Globally, the report estimates, 6.7% of the world speaks the language. That's a total of 559 million people, with 470 million who are native speakers and the rest with some level of proficiency.
Online, Spanish is the third most used language after English and Chinese. It's the second language on Facebook, the second on Wikipedia in terms of visits, and the third on Twitter after English and Japanese.
Behind English and French, Spanish is the 3rd most studied language, with an estimated 21 million students learning Spanish as a foreign language.
The Cervantes Institute in a non-profit founded in 1993 to promote the study of Spanish around the world. They report that over 200,000 students have registered with their centers around the world, compared to just under 17,000 during their first year.