Portugal was the leading country in the European exploration of the world in the 15th century. The Portuguese Empire was the first global empire in history, and it lasted from the capture of Ceuta in Northern Africa to the handover of Macau in 1999 and the sovereignty of East Timor in 2002, and represented parts of 53 currently sovereign states.

Although the Empire is now defunct, Portuguese has remained the official language of many of these states and countries, to the point that Portugal is currently only the 4th largest Portuguese-speaking country, and its population represents only about 5% of the total.

Country Population
Brazil 202,656,788
Mozambique 24,692,144
Angola 24,383,301
Portugal 10,813,834
Guinea-Bissau 1,693,398
East Timor 1,201,542
Equatorial Guinea 722,254
Macau 587,914
Cape Verde 538,535
São Tomé and Príncipe 190,428
Total 262,184,943

Portuguese is the fastest-growing European language after English, thanks to southern African and southern American speakers. UNESCO estimates around 450 million total speakers by 2050.