Italian is a Romance language. Italian is by most measures, together with the Sardinian language, the closest language to Vulgar Latin of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City and western Istria (in Slovenia and Croatia).
It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta and Monaco, and is still widely spoken some parts of France (especially Corsica, Nice, Savoie), Greece (Ionian Islands and Dodecanese) and Montenegro (Kotor), as well as in former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa regions where it plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia.
It also has official minority status in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia and Romania. Many speakers are native bilinguals of both standardized Italian and other regional languages.
Italian is a major European language, being one of the official languages of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and one of the working languages of the Council of Europe.
It is the third most widely spoken first language in the European Union with 69 million native speakers (13% of the EU population) and it is spoken as a second language by 16 million EU citizens (3%). Including Italian speakers in non-EU European countries (such as Switzerland and Albania) and on other continents, the total number of speakers is around 90 million.
Italian is the main working language of the Holy See, serving as the lingua franca (common language) in the Roman Catholic hierarchy as well as the official language of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Italian is known as the language of music because of its use in musical terminology and opera.
Its influence is also widespread in the arts and in the luxury goods market. Italian has been reported as the fourth or fifth most frequently taught foreign language in the world.
61 million OFFICIAL: Croatia (Istria Country), Italy, San Marino, Slovenia, Switzerland.