The United States has one of the largest Spanish-speaking populations in the world, topping Spain and second only to Mexico, according to a new study from the Instituto Cervantes. There are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the U.S. in addition to 11.6 million bilingual speakers. Only Mexico has more Spanish speakers, with a fluent population of 121 million.
In 2013, the U.S. was only the 5th largest Spanish-speaking population in the world; some scholars believe that by 2050, it could even top Mexico. In the United States, 47 percent of New Mexicans speak Spanish, as do some 38 percent of both Californians and Texans. Even 6 percent of Alaskans hablan español.
There are 559 million Spanish speakers worldwide, according to Instituto Cervantes' numbers. The Index of Human Development calls Spanish the second most important language on Earth, behind English and ahead of Mandarin.