Languages of Brazil

What's the official language in Brazil?

And the answer: Portuguese.

With roughly 204 million speakers, Brazil is the most populated Portuguese-speaking country in the world. There are also 274 indigenous languages spoken throughout the country.

Photo credit: World Atlas

Although Spanish is the official language in most South American countries, Portuguese rivals its prevalence with nearly an equal number of speakers on the continent. Impressive, too, considering the plethora of indigenous languages, romance languages, and over 300 different ethnicities just within Brazil.

When the Portuguese first touched down in Brazil in the 1500s, there were 6 to 10 million Amerindian people speaking about 1,300 different languages. Today, due to changing laws and a history of colonization (which often included the excising of traditional languages in favor of those from Europe), that number has more than halved. Yet, indigenous languages and Portuguese are not the only communicable tongues in the country. Even if the grand majority of Brazilians speak Portuguese (about 97-99%), the slew of immigrant languages such as Catalan, Dutch, Japanese, Korean, North Levantine Arabic, Turoyo, Vlax Romani, German, Italian, Polish and Ukrainian also make the cut (to name a few). These languages – most notably German and Italian – have even evolved into regional dialects: Three million people speak Brazilian German, while Brazilian Venetian (or Talian) is spoken by 1 million people.    

Brazil is known for its ecological diversity across a range of landscapes, but it's clear that linguistic diversity is just as important to the composition of the South American nation. Learn more about the languages of Brazil below.


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