Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City and western Istria (in Slovenia and Croatia). It used to have official status in Albania, Malta and Monaco, where it is still widely spoken, as well as in former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa regions where it plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. It is the third most widely spoken first language in the European Union with 69 million native speakers. Including Italian speakers in non-EU European countries (such as Switzerland and Albania) and on other continents, the total number of speakers is around 90 million. Italian has been reported as the fourth or fifth most frequently taught foreign language in the world. Throughout the Middle Ages and into the early modern period, most literate Italian speakers were also literate in Latin; and thus they easily adopted Latin words into their writing—and eventually speech—in Italian.
Native Speakers: 69,000,000
Region: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City
Writing System: Latin script
Language Family: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Italo-Dalmatian, Italian
Basic Phrases in Italian