what countries speak spanish

20+ Spanish-speaking Countries for Learning Inspiration

Whether you have a trip planned soon or just think you might want to go to a Spanish-speaking country somewhere down the road, travel can be a huge motivator for propelling your Spanish to the next level.

With more than 490 million Spanish native speakers globally, you have a lot of choices!

If you’re wondering what countries speak Spanish, you’re in the right place.

In this post, we’ll look at 20 countries that list Spanish as one of their official languages, plus three other regions with significant Spanish-speaking populations.


1. Mexico

three hispanic adults carrying the mexican flag down the street

Population: 127 million

Language: More than 90% of Mexicans speak Spanish, which is why it’s a top destination for learning the language. And of course, you’ll hear tons of Mexican slang.

Location: Located just south of the United States in North America, Mexico is largely desert, but it also has mountains, plains and rainforests. Wedged between the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, Mexico has an abundance of beautiful coastlines.

Notable Sights: Resort towns like Acapulco are popular with beach lovers, so start loading up on Mexican Spanish party phrases!

Historic pyramids in Chichen Itza and Teotihuacán provide an intriguing glimpse into Mexico’s pre-Columbian history.

2. Colombia

picture of the streets of antioquia colombia

Population: 51 million 

Language: Spanish is the official language, so you’ll definitely hear some unique Colombian Spanish expressions.

Location: Located on the northern coast of South America, Colombia has access to both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Its landscape includes the Andes mountains to the west and the Amazon rainforest to the south and east.

Notable Sights: The Amazon rainforest and beautiful beaches offer a lot, but historical cities like Cartagena and Mompox also attract tourists. Hikers might enjoy the ancient ruins of Ciudad Perdida.

3. Spain

La Alcazaba on the Mediterranean coast in Southern Spain

Population: 47 million

Language: More than 90% of people in Spain speak Castilian Spanish, while around 15% speak Catalan. A small percentage speak Galician and Basque.

While Galician is similar to Castilian Spanish, Catalan and Basque are quite unique. If you’re more familiar with Latin American Spanish, you’ll want to brush up on the European variety before your trip to Spain.

Location: Located in Western Europe, Spain has coasts on the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The Pyrenees mountains dot Spain’s eastern border, separating it from France.

Notable Sights: Some of the most popular attractions in Spain include the Alhambra Palace, the La Sagrada Familia cathedral and the Royal Alcázar of Seville.

Ibiza and Mallorca are well-known for their beaches and nightlife.

4. Argentina

woman sitting on top of a mountain in argentina

Population: 45 million

Language: While Spanish is the official language, several other languages are widely spoken too, and it’s worth learning some Argentinian slang.

Location: Located on the southeastern side of South America, Argentina has a long coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. It has plains in the east and the Andes Mountains in the west. The southwest region is subarctic, so you might even be able to spot a few penguins!

Notable Sights: Ushuaia is an intriguing city called “the end of the world” because it’s close to Antarctica. You can also check out the Iguazu Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Plus, national parks (with glaciers!), rainforests and lush wine regions.

5. Peru

woman walking on Inca Trail in Machu Picchu Peru

Population: 34 million

Language: 84.1% speak Spanish. Other native languages are common in the mountains and rainforests.

Location: Located in western South America, Peru is situated on the Pacific Ocean. The west is primarily desert, while the Amazon rainforest is in the east. The central region features the Andes mountain range.

Notable Sights: Peru is home to Machu Picchu, a well-known and spectacular Incan ruin. To get there, you can even take the Inca Trail, one of the most highly-rated treks in the world. For a bit of history, visit Lima and Cuzco!

6. Venezuela

angel falls waterfall in venezuela

Population: 28 million

Language: Spanish is the official language, and other native languages are also spoken.

Location: Situated on the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, this country is in northern South America. It features the Andes mountains, plains, highlands and the Amazon rainforest.

Notable Sights: Angel Falls in Canaima National Park ranks as the tallest waterfall in the world, with a height of more than 3,000 feet. Outdoor buffs can head for the beaches in Los Roques and Choroni, which feature plenty of coral reefs and wildlife.

7. Chile

Image by Sofia Cristina Córdova Valladares from Pixabay

Population: 19 million

Language: 99.5% of Chileans speak Spanish.

Location: Chile is a long, narrow country between Argentina and the Pacific Ocean. Needless to say, it has a lot of coastline in the west. It’s also got the Andes mountains in the east and the desert in the north.

Like Argentina, the far southern region has its share of penguins.

Notable Sights: Chile’s Punta Arenas is often a departure point for ships going to Antarctica, and you can visit it on the way to Torres del Paine, a scenic destination with lakes, glaciers and mountain trails.

Another unique sight would be the romantic Valle de Luna, right at the heart of a desert.  

8. Ecuador

Image by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay

Population: 17 million

Language: 93% of Ecuadorians speak Spanish, so get to know some Ecuadorian slang while you’re there! Quechua, a native language, is also fairly widely spoken.

Location: Located at the equator (hence the name), Ecuador is in western South America, flush against the Pacific Ocean. It includes Amazonian jungles and the Andes mountains.

Notable Sights: Quito is the most highly elevated capital city in the world, and it’s a historical center with well-preserved architecture and cobblestone streets.

Try out adventure sports at Baños, which is close to the Amazon!

9. Guatemala

Image by Lukáš Jančička from Pixabay

Population: 17 million

Language: 60% of the population speak Spanish, while the other 40% speak native languages.

Location: Situated just south of Mexico, Guatemala has coasts on the Pacific and Caribbean oceans. It features mountains and rainforests.

Notable Sights: Tikal features the ruins of an ancient Mayan city, surrounded by a massive forest. There’s also the scenic Lake Atitlan, with tourist towns nearby and plenty of hiking trails.

Antigua lets you enjoy city life without being too far from nature.

10. Cuba

Image by Falkenpost from Pixabay

Population: 11 million

Language: Spanish is the official language, and Cuban Spanish has its own unique slang and other regional differences.

Location: Cuba is an island located about 100 miles south of Florida in the Caribbean Sea. It’s largely plains, but the southeast features hills and mountains.

Notable Sights: Old Havana—the well-preserved central district in Havana—is popular for its old, picturesque buildings. Cuba has an abundance of gorgeous beaches as well.

11. Bolivia

two women dancing at carnival in bolivia south america

Population: 11 million

Language: Around 60% of the Bolivian population speak Spanish. Native languages (primarily Quechua and Aymara) are also spoken by more than one-third of the population.

Bolivian Spanish has many words and expressions, so it’s a good idea to learn some of those along with a bit of Quechua if you’re considering traveling there.

Location: Landlocked in central South America, Bolivia includes a large Andean plateau called the Altiplano as well as valleys, deserts and the Amazon rainforest.

Notable Sights: Salar de Uyuni consists of vast salt flats as far as the eye can see—sometimes even reflecting the sky perfectly for an otherworldly experience.

The Andes Mountains and La Paz are big draws, along with the ancient ruins of Tiwanaku.

12. Dominican Republic

Image by Georges Tours from Pixabay

Population: 10 million

Language: Spanish is the official language, and Dominican Spanish has its own quirks and slang.

Location: The Dominican Republic shares an island in the Caribbean Sea with Haiti (its smaller, western neighbor). Its terrain features mountains, valleys and rainforests.

Notable Sights: Santo Domingo is the oldest colonial city in the Americas, making it a worthy destination. Of course, don’t miss out on the country’s many beaches!

A top destination would be Punta Cana, one of Latin America’s most visited beach towns.

13. Honduras

Image by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay

Population: 10 million

Language: Spanish is the official language, but native languages are also spoken.

Location: Located in Central America, Honduras has a lot of coastline along the Caribbean Sea and a little on the Pacific Ocean. Its terrain is mainly mountainous, but there are rainforests, too.

Notable Sights: Go back in time by exploring the Copan Ruins, a Mayan site well-known for the portrait stelae decorating the buildings.

To immerse in nature, go for water activities at the Bay Islands or get a guide to take you around La Mosquitia, a massive rainforest. 

14. Paraguay

Image by Andi from Pixabay

Population: 7 million

Language: Spanish and Guarani share the title of “official language.” The two combine sometimes to make up Paraguayan slang.

Location: Landlocked in central South America, Paraguay is largely plains.

Notable Sights: Some of the top attractions in Paraguay include Iguazu Falls, which is right at its borders, and Saltos del Monday.

La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná is another noteworthy attraction where you can see how missionaries lived in the 17th and 18th centuries.

15. El Salvador

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Population: 6 million 

Language: Spanish is the official language, and Salvadoran Spanish is called Caliche. Aside from Spanish, Nawat is also spoken.

Location: Tucked between Guatemala and Honduras in Central America, El Salvador abuts the Pacific Ocean. It’s largely mountainous.

Notable Sights: El Salvador has several volcanic crater lakes with stunning views, and many travelers hike up the Santa Ana Volcano to see Lake Coatepeque.

Aside from these, El Salvador is known for its beaches, surfing spots, and Mayan ruins

16. Nicaragua

Image by pdro-enrique from Pixabay

Population: 6 million

Language: More than 90% of the population speak Spanish.

Location: Located in Central America, Nicaragua has coastlines along the Caribbean and Pacific oceans. Its terrain features rainforests and mountains.

Notable Sights: Try volcano surfing at Cerro Negro—sliding down the volcano slope at heart-pumping speed. The beaches, especially Corn Island, might lure you here, with its vivid blue waters and serene views.

17. Costa Rica

woman swimming in infinity pool in costa rica

Population: 5 million

Language: Spanish is the official language, so it’s time to brush up on your Costa Rican Spanish and try out some local slang!

Location: Located in Central America, Costa Rica has both Caribbean and Pacific coasts. It’s well-known for its rainforests and volcanoes.

Notable Sights: Ecotourism is widespread, with rainforests, volcanoes and beaches being particularly popular.

18. Panama

Image by Sabine Lange from Pixabay

Population: 4 million

Language: Spanish is the official language, but native languages are also popular. Panamanian Spanish is heavily influenced by these native languages as well as English.

Location: This narrow country in Central America is between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Its landscape features rainforests, mountains and plains.

Notable Sights: The well-known Panama Canal is an impressive engineering feat and one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

You can hang out at Bocas del Toro’s sun-kissed beaches or cool down at Boquete, a quaint mountain town known for coffee farms. 

19. Uruguay

Image by dpkelly07 from Pixabay

Population: 3 million 

Language: Spanish is the official language.

Location: Located on the Atlantic Coast in southern South America, Uruguay is predominantly plains.

Notable Sights: Old cities and neighborhoods like Colonia del Sacramento are popular. Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, is worth visiting because of its bustling cultural life, while Punta del Este is a lively resort town with great beaches.

20. Equatorial Guinea

Image by rem734 from Pixabay

Population: 1 million

Language: More than 60% speak Spanish. French is another official language, but it’s not spoken as much as other local languages.

Location: Consider this the unicorn of the list­—Equatorial Guinea is located all the way over in Western Africa. It has a lot of natural beauty, with rainforests, beaches and mountains.

Notable Sights: Equatorial Guinea is one of the least visited countries in the world, but it has fantastic sights, such as the Monte Alen National Park. The capital city of Malabo is located on Bioko Island, which has several picturesque beaches.

21. Puerto Rico

people waving puerto rican flags in the sky

Population: 3 million

Language: Spanish and English are widely spoken. Of course, Puerto Rican Spanish also has distinctive slang.

Location: This Caribbean island is a territory of the United States, but still quite separate and unique. It features mountains, rainforests and plenty of beaches.

Notable Sights: Travelers often flock to Old San Juan for its old architecture, lively restaurants, shops and trendy nightlife.

Vieques is a Caribbean beach paradise with a luminescent bay, while Rincon is great for surfing.

22. United States

Aerial view of Manhattan skyline at sunset in New York City

Population: 330 million 

Language: The US doesn’t have an official language, but Spanish is the most commonly spoken language after English, with more than 50 million Spanish speakers.

That makes them the largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico!

In fact, some people predict that by 2050, one-third of people in the US will be able to speak Spanish.

Location: The US shares a nearly 2,000-mile-long border with Mexico along four states: Texas, New Mexico, California and Arizona. Given its size, it has a diverse terrain, including beaches, mountains, plains, valleys and forests.

Notable Sights: Consider traveling to these states with major Spanish-speaking populations.

23. The Philippines

Image by Jah Cordova from Pixabay

Population: 111 million

Language: The Philippines used to have Spanish as an official language, but it became an “optional” language in 1973.

Today, Tagalog and English are the country’s official languages.

Still, around 600,000 people speak a mix of Spanish and local languages called Chavacano, mostly in southern regions like Zamboanga.

Location: The Philippines is an archipelago in Southeast Asia. Since it’s composed of many islands, there are many coastlines, rainforests and mountains.

Notable Sights: With great reefs and beaches, the Philippines are a water lover’s dream. Boracay, Cebu and El Nido are among the top destinations.

Why Travel to Spanish-speaking Countries?

  • For fun. Spanish-speaking countries have a lot to offer just because of their sheer number. With so many options, you’re sure to find one that will meet your desires. Whether you like beaches, culture, nature or history, there’s sure to be a great destination for you to enjoy.
  • To learn. Studying abroad is a tremendously popular way to immerse in a language. Not only will it help you improve your Spanish, but it will also help you learn more about Spanish-speaking cultures. You’ll also grow and potentially get the knowledge and skills employers look for.
  • For work. Working abroad has obvious perks. You get all the joys of travel, but you’re also making money, so you can continue your travels indefinitely and take the opportunity to become fluent in the language. Bonus: Working abroad is also a great résumé builder.

How to Get the Most Out of Visiting a Spanish-speaking Country

  • Research in advance. Study up on any place you think you might want to visit. Lonely Planet is a great resource for this. They have detailed travel guides on all the countries in this post, plus phrasebooks for different types of regional Spanish.
  • Focus on the correct language variation. The most notable differences are between the Spanish spoken in Spain and Latin American Spanish. Did you know that vosotros (plural “you” form of verbs) is typically only used in Spain and not in Latin America? But variations exist even within Latin American Spanish, such as commonly used phrases and pronunciation. 
  • Get to know popular expressions.
    You can make the transition smoother by practicing your Spanish and immersing online before you travel. For example, an online platform like FluentU can teach you useful vocabulary and improve your comprehension. It features hundreds of Spanish media clips from diverse countries with interactive subtitles, post-video quizzes and other learner tools to help you learn in context.
  • Interact with locals. You can rent rooms with locals through Airbnb or even stay for free using sites like Couchsurfing. Try to chat with locals (in Spanish!). Not only will you practice your Spanish, but it’s also a great way to find all the best sights and get insider information about what to do.
  • Get off the beaten path. Every tourist destination has sights intended for tourists that locals seldom visit. But if you chat with the locals, they can give you tips on places off the beaten path they enjoy. This will give you a more realistic idea of what it’s like to live in the area you’re visiting.


With so many great Spanish-speaking countries, learning Spanish seems the only logical option!

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