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It has been estimated that between 190 and 230 million people speak Portuguese throughout the world. Portuguese is the eighth most spoken language on the planet, and after English and Spanish (or Castilian), the third most spoken language of the West.
Portuguese is the official language of the following eight countries spread across four continents:
Since Portugal joined the organisation in 1986, Portuguese has been one of the official languages of the European Union, or EU (which was formerly known as the European Economic Community, or EEC). Furthermore, in the countries that form a part of Mercosul, although with the exception of Brazil where it is the official language, Portuguese is taught as a foreign language in accordance with the agreement that was signed by the member nations to create the Common Market of Southern Latin America.
In 1996, the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (with the acronym of CPLP in Portuguese) was formed with the aim of increasing co-operation and cultural interchange between members, as well as standardising and diffusing the Portuguese language itself.