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U.S. has more Spanish speakers than Spain: study

The dramatic growth of the Latino population in the U.S. has pushed it into second place on the list of countries with Spanish speakers, according to a new study.

There are estimated to currently be 52.6 million Spanish speakers in America, with 41 million being native speakers and another 11.6 million speaking it as a second language, according to the Instituto Cervantes, whose report is titled "Spanish: A Living Language" (PDF, in Spanish.)

That total puts the U.S. behind only Mexico, which has an estimated 121 million Spanish speakers. Rounding out the top five on the list is Colombia, with 48 million speakers; Spain, with 46.7 million speakers; and Argentina, with 42.2 million speakers.

Mexico may not hold the lead forever, as census estimates indicate the Hispanic population in the U.S. will grow to 132.8 million by 2050. That rise is dramatic, considering roughly 34 million people reported speaking Spanish at home in the United States in 2007.