European or Iberian Portuguese, or Portuguese from Portugal: these are the ways we can refer to the native language of Portugal. Just like Spanish, French, Italian and Romanian, Portuguese is a Romance Language, which means it evolved from Vulgar Latin, after the Romans arrived on the Iberian Peninsula bringing the Latin language with them.
Even though these languages share the same origin, they are fundamentally different languages. One common misconception, for example, is that the Portuguese and Spanish can easily understand each other, which is not entirely true. Even though many Portuguese can speak and understand Spanish, they are still two completely different languages. In fact, many Portuguese people will feel insulted if addressed in Spanish. The same happens with Brazilian Portuguese. In the 15th and 16th centuries, at the time of the Portuguese Discoveries, our language was taken to many regions of Africa, Asia and the Americas.
Nowadays, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) consists of the nine independent countries where Portuguese is an official language: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and São Tomé and Príncipe. This means Portuguese is the native tongue of over 250 million people throughout the world. Once again, in the non-contiguous parts of the world where Portuguese is spoken, there are significant differences in pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and the use of idiomatic expressions. There are also significant Portuguese-speaking migrant communities in many countries throughout the world and according to estimates by UNESCO, Portuguese is the fastest-growing European language after English and has the highest potential for growth as an international language in southern Africa and South America.
European Portuguese, as I prefer to refer to my native language, has been an official language of the European Union since Portugal joined the EU in 1986. Thus, to this day, European institutions are some of the biggest employers of Portuguese translators and interpreters in the world. Written Portuguese in Portugal has recently suffered significant changes due to the enforcement of the New Spelling Agreement. Surrounded by controversy, this new spelling was officially introduced on 13 May 2015, after a six-year transition period.
The language of Camões, the author of the national epic poem Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads), has also been spread far and wide at the hands of renowned writers such as José Saramago, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.