Spanish (/ˈspænɪʃ/ ) or Castilian (/kæˈstɪliən/ ), is a Romance language under Aryan languages that originated in the Iberian Peninsula and today has over 450 million native speakers in Spain and in the Americas. It is a global language and the world’s second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.
Spanish is a part of the Ibero-Romance group of languages, which evolved from several dialects of Vulgar Latin in Iberia after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century. The oldest Latin texts with traces of Spanish come from mid-northern Iberia in the 9th century, and the first systematic written use of the language happened in Toledo, a prominent city of the Kingdom of Castile, in the 13th century. Beginning in 1492, the Spanish language was taken to the viceroyalties of the Spanish Empire, most notably to the Americas, as well as territories in Africa, Oceania and the Philippines.
Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. It is also used as an official language by the European Union, the Organization of American States, the Union of South American Nations, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the African Union and many other international organizations.
Despite its large number of speakers, the Spanish language does not feature prominently in scientific writing, with the exception of the humanities. 75% of scientific production in Spanish is divided into three thematic areas: social sciences, medical sciences and arts/humanities. It is the third most used language on the internet after English and Chinese.
The Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera (English: Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language), or DELE, are official diplomas issued by the Spanish Instituto Cervantes on behalf of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science to participants who have passed a standardised test indicating their European Spanish language proficiency. The diplomas are valid permanently. Every year, more than 60,000 examinations are taken by candidates in more than 800 examination centres from more than 100 countries. In many countries, the DELE Diplomas have been adopted by schools and universities as a complement to their own evaluation systems, such that it is used as an entry requirement for non-native Spanish speakers.
As of 1 July 2015, the Instituto Cervantes, together with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), officially announced that it will be offering what is to be called Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española or SIELE. The new test will treat Spanish as a universal language and will feature characteristics from hispanophone countries aside from Spain.