11 Portuguese-Speaking Countries To Visit For Portuguese Study

11 Portuguese-Speaking Countries To Visit For Portuguese Study

Portuguese is quite a fascinating language to learn. There’s no doubt that it's a popular Spanish cousin is considered a universally better option. However, the number of new learners who consider learning Portuguese as a second language has been growing a lot in the past few years. 

Not to mention how Spanish speakers choose Portuguese as the second language due to similarities between the two. As of now, Portuguese is the third most spoken European language in the whole world.

Another factor that makes Portuguese worth learning is accessibility. Learning languages is relatively easier nowadays due to the availability of study materials online. For example, you can start picking up common Portuguese phrases just by searching online. 

Still, the path of language proficiency isn’t complete if you haven’t exchanged some words with a native speaker. If you want to sound like a native speaker, you need to learn the language from a native speaker. 

For that, you might have to travel to one of the official Portuguese-speaking countries in the world. Here’s good news: there are a lot of options to choose from. 

A Few Fun Facts About Portuguese

  • Did you know that despite being the origin, Portugal is not the country with the largest Portuguese-speakers? 
  • More than 250 million people all around the world use this language as their native tongue. An additional 24 million people are proficient in speaking Portuguese as a second language.
  • Overall, there are more than 274 million Portuguese speakers in the world right now.
  • Portuguese is considered a Romance language, along with Spanish, French, Italian, and Romanian. In addition to Spanish, Portuguese also sounds the same as Galician.
  • This language also has some interesting idioms to offer, and most are beginner-friendly as well. 
  • You can find Portuguese speakers in all parts of the world, especially in South America, Europe, and Africa. UNESCO even considers it an international communication language with the potential for an increase in speakers in the future.
  • Ten different countries declared Portuguese as their official language. And these ten countries are what we’re featuring in this article. 

11 Official Portuguese-Speaking Countries 

1. Brazil

Brazil is one of the largest Portuguese-speaking countries in the world.

As of 2011, there are 205 million native Portuguese speakers in the country. However, unlike other countries in this list, Brazil speaks another Portuguese variant called the Brazilian Portuguese. This dialect is known for having open vowels, making it easier to understand for language learners.  

Take note: some words in Brazilian Portuguese are very different in European Portuguese. You might have to learn those words separately if you want to learn both BP and EP. But since BP is used by a bigger population, learning Brazilian Portuguese is more advantageous if you want to speak with more people. 

If you’re going to visit Brazil, don’t forget to see their beautiful beaches and massively popular carnivals. The weather is good for the majority of the year.

Brazil is the obvious choice if you want to know more about soccer while learning a little more about Portuguese. 

2. Angola

Angola is one of the countries in Africa that belongs to “PALOPs”, a group of Portuguese-speaking countries in the region.

As of 2014, 71% of the Angolan population speak Portuguese at home. Those who live in urban areas tend to learn Portuguese earlier than other languages.

The second most widely used language in the country is Umbundu, which is prevalent in the Luanda region. 

The Angolan Portuguese was brought to the country after the Angolan Civil War. From then on, the language became the lingua franca of numerous ethnic groups.

Angolan Portuguese is more similar to the Mazombican variant in phonetics. Some regions in Angola, such as Cabinda, are also French speakers. 

Much like in Brazil, the majority of people can speak in Portuguese. Language learners can visit the country to immerse themselves in Angolan culture while learning their language. If visiting Angola, just make sure to stock yourself with the local currency, New Kwanza, for convenience.

3. Mozambique

Mozambique is a curious case when it comes to Portuguese. Its Portuguese-speaking population is higher than Portugal, but most of these are L2 speakers. In fact, the variant used in the country is called the Mozambican Portuguese.

Like in Angola, the Mozambican Portuguese is based on the European Portuguese. 

Some differences in the MP is the reduction of vowel sound and the missing “r” sound in some of the words. The “i” sound sometimes replaces the “e” sound (e.g., Felicidade is felisi’dadi).

And there’s a lot of words borrowed from the indigenous Mozambique language and exported to Portuguese. 

If you want a more private beach experience, Mozambique is a great choice. There are world-class snorkeling and diving sites found in the Quirimbas archipelago.

For a change of scenery, tourists can also visit Africa’s top safari sites, such as the Gorongosa National Park. 

4. Portugal

For learners who are more interested in European Portuguese, the country to go to is probably Portugal.

There are more than 10 million Portuguese native speakers in the country, with the other 5% of the population speaking Mirandese. This country is where the original Portuguese language originated and developed over time. 

European Portuguese is known for reduced vowel pronunciation and the “s” sound being “sh” at the end of the word. It has a softer sound than its Brazilian counterpart.

There is also a formal and informal variant in the European version, which is not that big of a deal in the Brazilian version. For those who have a strong European accent, the EP will be easier to learn than BP. 

5. Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau is a country found in the West African region, near Senegal and Guinea. Although its primary language is Creole, it is still one of the world’s largest official Portuguese-speaking countries.

As of 2018, there are almost 2 million Portuguese speakers in the country. It is a member of both Comunidade dos Plaises de Lingua Portuguesa or CPLP (for Portuguese) and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie or OIF (for French). 

Like other countries on this list, Guinea-Bissau developed their variant of Portuguese called the Portuguese creole. This is a version of creole which uses Portuguese as a lexifier.

Overall, the Portuguese creole is generally understood by all Portuguese speakers. 

6. East Timor

East Timor is another unique case on the list. It is located in Southeast Asia, where most languages are part of either Austro-Asiatic or Austronesian families.

The country has two lingua franca: Portuguese and Tetum (an Austronesian language heavily influenced by Portuguese). Natives from East Timor don’t regularly use pure Portuguese in daily conversations.

However, its other national language, called Tetum Prasa, is so intertwined with the Portuguese language. The influence of Portuguese is easily recognizable in Tetum Prasa. East Timor is the place to go if you want to know how Portuguese can influence other languages. 

7. Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea has three official languages: Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Other local languages such as Combe, Fang, Igbo, and Bube are also used in most areas.

Like East Timor, pure Portuguese is not widely used in the region. Instead, locals use a Portuguese-based creole called the Annobonese Creole. There are about 6,000 Annobonese speakers in the country’s coastal areas. 

The natives of Annobon and the Bioko Islands are the primary speakers of the Annobonese Creole. 

Annobonese creole is often referred to as the Fa ‘Ambu by the people who speak it as their primary language. Equatorial Guinea regularly makes an effort to teach this creole in the capital city of Malabo.

One of its significant characteristics is using terms from the Spanish language, much like the Forro creole found in São Tomé and Príncipe. 

8. Macau

Macau or Macao is a city with a population of 650,000. It uses Cantonese and Portuguese as its lingua franca. Like other locations listed above, Macau’s population predominantly speaks another language other than Portuguese (in this case, Cantonese).

Other speakers use the Portuguese dialect called the Macanese Portuguese in their daily conversations. 

Since Portuguese is still an official language, it is still used on many things, especially on public signages. You can also hear free-to-air radio broadcasts that use Portuguese as the primary language.

And if you’re planning to be a lawyer in Macau, you need to have extensive knowledge of Portuguese. The legal code of Macau is still written in Portuguese form. 

9. Cape Verde

Cape Verde or Cabo Verde is a Portuguese-speaking island-country with a population of about 570,000. Although Portuguese is listed as the official language, most natives here use a creole known as the Cape Verdean.

This creole is the most widely used one among other Portuguese-based creoles that are still in use today. 

Like Macau, pure Portuguese is still the language used in official businesses, such as school, administration, and relations to foreign countries. The country’s language state is called “diglossia.”

This happens when both the creole (Cape Verdean) and the principal language (Portuguese) are used in daily communication among the citizens. 

10. São Tomé and Príncipe

São Tomé and Príncipe (Saint Thomas and Prince) is an island country found in western Central Africa. It consists of two archipelagos known as “São Tomé” and “Príncipe.”

As of 2018, the country-archipelago is the smallest official Portuguese-speaking country in the world. The latest data census reported that there are only 201,800 citizens in the two islands combined. 

Almost all the people inhabiting the archipelago are Portuguese speakers. The minority uses a handful of Portuguese creoles (Angolar, Principense, and Cape Verdean).

Additionally, foreign languages such as French and English are taught in local schools. If you want to polish your Portuguese in a small, peaceful town, your best option is to come to this country. 

11. Other Portuguese-Speaking Communities

There are countries in which Portuguese speakers are gathered in considerably large communities where the official language is not Portuguese.

Most of the cases included in this list are caused by migration or places where studying Portuguese as a second language is popular. 

  • France - More than 900,000 speakers 
  • Japan -  More than 400,000 speakers
  • Paraguay -  More than 636,000 speakers
  • Venezuela - More than 554,000 speakers
  • United States - More than 1,220,000 speakers

Final Thoughts

Nothing beats the experience of learning with a native speaker when it comes to language learning. Make the best out of the experience and visit one of the official Portuguese-speaking countries today!

Enjoy your Portuguese-learning journey!

Don’t forget to check out the other language learning advice from this blog. 

How many countries in Africa speak Portuguese?

The Portuguese-speaking African countries, also known as Lusophone Africa, consist of six African countries: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Sao Tome, and Principe

Where is Portuguese spoken?

There are 11 official Portuguese speaking countries: Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Portugal, Guinea-Bissau, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Macau, Cape Verde, Sao Tome, and Principe

Is Portuguese commonly spoken?

Portuguese is quite a fascinating language to learn. There’s no doubt that it's more popular Spanish cousin is considered a universally better option. However, the number of new learners who consider learning Portuguese as a second language has been growing a lot in the past few years. Not to mention how Spanish speakers choose Portuguese as the second language due to similarities between the two. As of now, Portuguese is the third most spoken European language in the whole world.

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