Portuguese 101

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Portuguese (Português) is a Romance language predominantly spoken in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea Bissau, Macao Special Administrative Region of China, Mozambique, Portugal, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Many linguists consider that Portuguese and Galician (the native language of Galicia, Spain) are actually varieties of the same language, but with Galician being strongly influenced by Spanish. With more than 200 million native speakers, Portuguese is one of the few languages spoken in such widely-distributed parts of the world, and is the fifth or sixth most-spoken first language in the world. Because Brazil, with 184 million inhabitants, constitutes about 51% of South America's population, Portuguese is the most widely spoken language in South America and it is also one of the key languages in Africa.

The language was spread worldwide in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as Portugal created the first and the longest lived modern-world colonial and commercial empire (1415–1975), spanning from Brazil in the Americas to Macao in China. As a result, Portuguese is now the official language of several independent countries and is widely spoken or studied as a second language in many others. There are also various Portuguese Creole languages spread all over the world. It is an important minority language in Andorra, Luxembourg, Namibia, and Paraguay.

The Portuguese language is nicknamed A língua de Camões ("The language of Camões", after Luís de Camões, the author of The Lusiads); A última flor do Lácio ("The last flower of Latium", by Olavo Bilac) or The sweet language (by Cervantes). Portuguese language speakers are known as a Lusophone, after the Roman name for the province of Lusitania.

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