10 Countries That Speak Portuguese (From Angola to China)

When you think about the Portuguese language, chances are you immediately associate it with two places: Portugal and Brazil.

These are the two most well-known variations of the language, and most Portuguese resources focus on these two nations.

However, Portuguese is spoken in a lot of other countries, too.

These countries are Angola, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Principé and the Macau region of China.

Let’s dive right into some fascinating trivia about these countries that speak Portuguese—their population, number of Portuguese speakers and much more.


1. Portugal

Population: 10.2 million

Number of Portuguese speakers: 10 million

Portugal is located on the Iberian Peninsula, which is on the southwest corner of continental Europe.

As you can imagine, Portuguese is by far the most commonly spoken language here. It’s one of two official languages—the other being Mirandese, though this is only spoken regionally.

If you want to hear what European Portuguese sounds like, watch this video featuring people in Lisbon discussing their perfect day:

2. Brazil

Population: 217.2 million

Number of Portuguese speakers: 203 million

Brazil is the largest country in South America in terms of both population and land area. It’s also home to the largest population of Portuguese speakers.

While over 200 other languages are spoken in Brazil, Portuguese is the dominant language by leaps and bounds.

Introduced in Brazil during the 1500s, Portuguese had plenty of time to root itself in the area and culture until Brazil’s independence from Portugal in the early 1800s.

Since European and Brazilian Portuguese have continued to evolve separately during the last 500 years, many differences exist—including variations in accent, spelling, vocabulary and formality.

Want to hear what Brazilian Portuguese sounds like? Check out Easy Languages’ on-the-street interview with real Brazilians:

If you’re interested in learning Portuguese, you can check out FluentU, which will help you pick up on differences in Portuguese accents as it teaches you the language through videos meant for Portuguese speakers everywhere.

These videos—which include vlogs, movie clips and music videos—feature interactive subtitles that will demonstrate how the language is used in context. 

FluentU is available as an app for iOS and Android as well!

3. Angola

Population: 37.4 million

Number of Portuguese speakers: 15.4 million

Located on the coast of southwestern Africa, Angola was a long-standing colony of Portugal until it gained independence in 1975.

Indigenous groups began adopting the Portuguese language in the 1400s, though indigenous languages are also still widely spoken.

Despite being Angola’s official language, just over half of its residents actually speak Portuguese, though it’s an increasingly common first language among the younger generation.

To hear a little Angolan Portuguese, check out Wikitongues’ video below:

4. Mozambique

Population: 34.5 million

Number of Portuguese speakers: 5 million

Mozambique is located in southeast Africa on the coast of the Indian Ocean. It gained independence from Portugal in 1975.

While Portuguese is Mozambique’s sole official language, only around 5 million people actually speak it.

This is because there are over 40 indigenous languages that are often the first language. You’ll find the majority of Portuguese speakers in urban areas.

Check out a video by AgDevCo to hear what Portuguese sounds like in Mozambique:

5. Guinea-Bissau

Population: 2.1 million

Number of Portuguese speakers: Current numbers unknown

Guinea-Bissau is located on the west coast of Africa and was colonized by the Portuguese in the 1400s. Tragically, Guinea-Bissau was used as a source for slaves to be brought into Portugal’s other colonies.

Portuguese is Guinea-Bissau’s only official language, though it’s often not a first language. Crioulo or Kiriol, a form of Portuguese creole, is the lingua franca which is most often used for interpersonal communication.

Want to hear what Portuguese sounds like in Guinea-Bissau? Check out a news report by Record TV Europa featuring interviews with locals:

6. East Timor

Population: 1.3 million

Number of Portuguese speakers: 489,000

East Timor is located on an island in the southeastern part of Asia near Indonesia.

The language arrived in East Timor when the Portuguese invaded the area in the 1600s to acquire a source of sandalwood. Portugal officially withdrew from the region in 1975.

While Portuguese is uncommon as a first language, it’s still one of two official languages (the other being Tetum). In addition, there are over 30 indigenous languages spoken here!

You can hear what Portuguese sounds like in East Timor by watching this ONU News report of a government official discussing how he learned the language:

7. Equatorial Guinea

Population: 1.7 million

Number of Portuguese speakers: Current numbers unknown

Located on the west coast of Africa, Equatorial Guinea was colonized by Spain, before eventually gaining independence in 1968.

So why is Portuguese spoken in Equatorial Guinea? The answer is that Portugal was there before Spain.

A Portuguese navigator first spotted the area in 1472 but ceded rights to various areas to Spain in 1778, so some regions were under Portuguese influence for over 300 years.

The most widely spoken language with Portuguese links is Fa d’Ambu, a Portuguese creole spoken mostly by people who live on islands off the coast. The most notable official languages of Equatorial Guinea are Spanish and French, which are mostly spoken as second languages.

However, some sources also list Portuguese as an official language, which is supported by the nation’s membership in the Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa (Community of Portuguese Language Countries).

Here’s a video talking about the Portuguese in Equatorial Guinea:

8. Macau

Population: 710,000

Number of Portuguese speakers: 6,200

If you’re thinking, “Wait, isn’t Macau in China?”, let me assure you that your eyes aren’t deceiving you.

Surprisingly enough, Portuguese is spoken in Macau, a semi-autonomous region of southeastern China.

The Portuguese language arrived there in the 1500s with Portuguese traders. Portugal held a strong influence in the region until it ceded control to China in 1999.

Cantonese (also called Yue Chinese) is the most widely spoken native language in Macau, with virtually all residents speaking it. Additionally, Chinese and Portuguese share official status in the region.

To hear how Portuguese sounds in Macau, check out a video by Catarina Brites Soares:

9. Cape Verde

Population: 602,000

Number of Portuguese speakers: Current numbers unknown

Cape Verde is an island chain in the Atlantic Ocean near the western coast of Africa.

The Portuguese language arrived with settlers in the 1400s and remained there until Cape Verde finally gained official independence in 1975.

While Portuguese is the official language of Cape Verde, it’s rarely a first language. If the people use Portuguese at all, it’s more likely Cape Verde Creole (also called Kabuverdianu).

10. São Tomé and Príncipe

Population: 234,000

Number of Portuguese speakers: Around 98% of the population

São Tomé and Príncipe is an island nation off the west coast of Africa.

When the Portuguese discovered the islands in the 1400s, they were uninhabited, but Portugal soon sent settlers. 

Like many of the Portuguese-speaking countries listed, São Tomé and Príncipe became independent in 1975.

Portuguese is the official and most common language, with virtually all of the residents speaking it. The islands are also home to three Portuguese creoles: Sãotomense (a.k.a., Forro Creole), Angolar and Principense.

You can hear this regional variation by watching Dani Moura’s video on São Tomé and Príncipe:


Now that you know all the countries that speak Portuguese, you now know where to go the next time you’re in the mood to practice your Portuguese with native speakers!

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