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Languages in South America – Top 5 Spoken Languages

With over 442 million inhabitants, South America is a vast continent with a rich history of European influence dating back hundreds of years. It is no wonder then that the languages in South America have a huge influence from prominent European explorer nations.

With countries such as Brazil and Argentina with huge populations it is not surprising that they contain populous areas of different dialects. Below is a list of the top 5 spoken languages in South America and the countries where they are spoken.


Top 5 Languages of South America

Spanish – 214,265,000 Speakers

Spanish is the most spoken of all languages in South America. Due to the Spanish explorers influence, countries such as Argentina and Columbia hold over 80 million Spanish speakers combined. But they are not the only nations in South America which are home to Spanish speakers.

Spanish Speaking Countries in South America

Spanish Speakers – 40,000,000
Capital – Buenos Aires

Spanish Speakers – 11,280,000
Capital – La Paz

Spanish Speakers – 18,200,000
Capital – Santiago

Spanish Speakers – 49,600,000
Capital – Bogota

Spanish Speakers – 16,400,000
Capital – Quito

Spanish Speakers – 7,000,000
Capital – Asunción

Spanish Speakers – 32,000,000
Capital – Lima

Spanish Speakers – 3,500,000
Capital – Montevideo

Spanish Speakers – 32,000,000
Capital – Caracas

Portuguese – 206,500,000 Speakers

Despite being referred to as Portuguese, the dialect spoken in South America differs slightly to that of European Portuguese. However, it is still considered as Portuguese and the second most spoken language in South America. This is mainly due to the fact it is the national language of Brazil, the largest country on the continent.

It is spoken in other countries across the continent but Brazil is the only one which considers it to be an official language. It is no surprise that this makes it the second most spoken of all languages in South America.

Portuguese Speaking Countries in South America

Portguese Speakers – 206,000,000
Capital – Brasilia

Quechua – c.15,000,000 Speakers

Quechua, or Runasimi as it is commonly referred to, is a collection of indigenous languages spoken by the Quechuan people. Primarily spoken in the Peruvian Andes areas, this family of languages is directly derived from a common ancestral language.

While it is spoken by approximately 10,000,000 people in South America, it is not considered an official language of any country. There are, however, a vast amount of countries which contain Quechuan speakers.

Quechua Speaking Countries in South America

Quechua Speakers – c.900,000

Quechua Speakers – c.2,100,000

Quechua Speakers – c.8,000

Quechua Speakers – c.10,000,000

Quechua Speakers – c.1,000,000

Quechua Speakers – c.2,800,000

English – c.6,000,000 Speakers

Despite being such a prominent language around the world, there is only two countries in South America which list English as their official language. The small coastal country of Guyana and the Falkland Islands, with a combined population of less than 800,000, are the only two countries in the continent which hold English in this regard.

Despite this lack of official language status across the majority of countries, English still has a vast amount of speakers. Approximately 7,000,000 people speak English in South America, which makes it the fourth most spoken language in the continent.

English Speaking Countries in South America

English Speakers – 790,000
Capital – Georgetown

Falkland Islands
English Speakers – 2,800
Capital – Stanley

English Speakers – 2,800,000

English Speakers – 1,900,000

Guarani – c.5,000,000 Speakers

One of the official languages of Paraguay, Guarani is spoken across multiple countries in South America. With communities in Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina all speaking Guarani, there are approximately 5,000,000 speakers in South America.

Despite the influence of European languages in neighbouring countries and areas, Guarani is still very prevalent and remains one of the most widely spoken American languages.

Guarani Speaking Countries in South America

Guarani Speakers – c.5,000,000

Guarani Speakers – c.600,000

Guarani Speakers – c.40,000

Guarani Speakers – c.50,000

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