Portuguese is a that grew from the descended that was spoken in the mediaeval . It also absorbed influences from the Romance and Arabic languages spoken in the areas that were conquered by the Portuguese . It was spread worldwide in the 15th and 16th centuries as Portugal established a (1415–1999) that included in , and other parts of India, in China, in and the five African countries that make up the area: , , , and .
With over 260 million speakers, Portuguese is the fifth most spoken language in the world, the most widely spoken in the southern hemisphere, and the third most spoken in the Western world. In addition to Brazil and Portugal, it is used in Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Macau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe and East Timor, as well as in the former territories of Portuguese India (Goa, Daman, Isle of Angediva, Simbor, Gogol, Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli) and in small communities that were part of the Portuguese Empire in Asia as Malacca, Malaysia and East Africa as Zanzibar, Tanzania.
Today it is one of the world's major languages, according to number of native speakers (between 205 and 230 million). It is the language of about half of South America's population, even though Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in .