What are some Spanish speaking African countries and how and when did they adopt the language?
There are more than 400 million native speakers of Spanish, making it the second most spoken languages in the world. Spanish is the third most studied language in the world, after English and French. In addition to the 400 million native speakers, just shy of 9 million people around the world speak Spanish as a second language and out of the number above, many speakers can be found in Africa.
African Countries that Speak Spanish
Equatorial Guinea is the only country in Africa where Spanish is an official language. Spanish is also spoken by small pockets of people in Morocco which is geographically close to Spain and also in Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
1. Equitorial Guinea
Spanish is one of three official languages in Equatorial Guinea, where nearly 68% of the population speaks it.
Formerly the colony of Spanish Guinea, Equatorial Guinea is the only sovereign African state in which Spanish is an official language. As of 2015, the country had an estimated population of 1,222,245.
Spanish has been an official language since 1844. It is still the language of education and administration. 67.6% of Equatorial Guineans can speak it, especially those living in the capital, Malabo.
Other Foreign Languages Spoken in Equatorial Guinea:
Though Spanish language is being used as a means of communication that is taught in school. The two other prominent official languages that are spoken by Equatorial Guinea apart from the Spanish Language are:
– French Language
French was adopted as an official language of Equatorial Guinea in 1988. It is a compulsory subject taught in schools. Equatorial Guinea adopted French in order to strengthen economic ties with other Francophone countries. It is spoken by less than 10% of the population, and primarily in towns bordering French-speaking countries.
– Portuguese Language
In the year 2010, the Portuguese language was adopted as an official language in Guinea. The country adopted use of the language at an official level with the aim of gaining membership to the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP). The Portuguese language is taught in school but it is not compulsory.
There are a number of languages of Morocco. The two official languages are Modern Standard Arabic and Berber. Moroccan Arabic known as Darija is the spoken native vernacular.
About 5 million Moroccans speak Spanish, especially in the northern regions. The use of Spanish in northern Morocco and Western Sahara derives largely from the fact that Spain had previously occupied those areas and incorporated Spanish Sahara as a province. In these regions Spanish is commonly used in public discourse and Spanish-language television is a common medium.
Spanish is spoken by many Moroccans, particularly in the northern regions around Tetouan and Tangier, as well as in parts of the south, due to historic ties and business interactions with Spain.
After Morocco declared independence in 1956, French and Arabic became the main languages of administration and education, causing the role of Spanish to decline.
Today, Spanish is one of the languages most studied in the educational system, together with classical Arabic, Berber and French. According to the Cervantes Institute, there are at least 58,382 students of Spanish, and the Committee of Castile and León reports as many as 350,000.
According to a 2012 study by the Government of Spain, 98% of Moroccans spoke Moroccan Arabic, 63% spoke French, 43% Amazigh, 14% spoke English, and 10% spoke Spanish.
Other Foreign Languages Spoken in Morocco:
When France established a protectorate in Morocco in 1912 after the signing of the Treaty of Fez, the colonizer imposed French on the Moroccan education system.
Since then, French, has retained a major place in Morocco, as it is taught universally and serves as Morocco’s primary language of commerce and economics, culture, sciences and medicine; it is also widely used in education and government.
About 15% of Moroccans speak English. It is also as a mandatory course for vocational schools and universities.
Additionally, there is room for university degrees taught entirely in English as professors and researchers are required to master English as essential element in their work.
3. Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR)
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is a
partially recognized de facto sovereign state that claims the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara, but controls only the easternmost one-fifth of that territory.
The SADR maintains diplomatic relations with 40 UN states, and is a full member of the African Union.
Like Equitorial Guinea, the official language of SADR is Spanish and Arabic.
Spanish Saharan Spanish is the variety of the Spanish language spoken in the country, the language is used alongside the Arabic in classrooms, and administration. This non-native variety is heavily influenced by both ‘Spanish colonialism’ and a strong expatriate community who live in Spain and Latin America, particularly Cuba.
Other Foreign Languages Spoken in Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic are French and Arabic.