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US now has more Spanish speakers than Spain - only Mexico has more

• http://www.theguardian.com

The United States is now the world's second largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico, according to a new study published by the prestigious Instituto Cervantes.

The report says there are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the US plus a further 11.6 million who are bilingual, mainly the children of Spanish-speaking immigrants. This puts the US ahead of Colombia (48 million) and Spain (46 million) and second only to Mexico (121 million).

Among the sources cited in the report is the US Census Office which estimates that the US will have 138 million Spanish speakers by 2050, making it the biggest Spanish-speaking nation on Earth, with Spanish the mother tongue of almost a third of its citizens.

By state the highest concentration is in the former Spanish colonies of the south and south-west, with New Mexico top at 47%, followed by California and Texas (both 38%) and Arizona (30%). Some 18% of New Yorkers speak Spanish while only 1.3% of West Virginians do. Perhaps surprisingly, more than 6% of Alaskans are Spanish speakers.

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