Portuguese has one of the most fascinating histories of European languages.
Although Iberia was inhabited before the Roman occupation, very few traces of the languages spoken by these peoples remain in modern Portuguese. When the Romans invaded Iberian in 218 b.c. the people living in the region adopted Latin, the Roman's language. The Portuguese language, which evolved from Latin, developed on the West coast of the Iberian Peninsula (now Portugal and the Spanish province of Galicia) in the province the Romans called "Lusitania".
From then until the eighth century a.d. they all spoke Romance, an intermediate stage between common Latin and modern Latin languages (Portuguese, Castilian, French, Catalan, etc.)
After 711, when the Moors conquered the Iberian Peninsula, Arabic became the official language, although the vast majority of the population continued to speak Romance. Some Arabic words are still found in modern Portuguese, such as "Algarve". The period between the ninth century and the 11th century is a period of transition. A few Portuguese words appear in local Latin texts, but Portuguese (more specifically Galician-Portuguese, its forerunner) was spoken only in Lusitania.
However, during the Christian Reconquest of Iberia, after 1000 A.D., Galician-Portuguese became the language of Lusitania. The first regional official documents and literary texts that were not in Latin were written in Galician-Portuguese. The separation between Galician and Portuguese occured after the Moors were expelled in 1249, and was reinforced by the defeat in 1385 of the Castilians, who had tried to conquer Portugal.
Later, due to the Portuguese navigations in the XV and XVI centuries, by Vasco da Gama and others, it became one of the few languages present in Africa, America, Asia and Europe, and absorbed words from around the world, including "cha", for tea, from China.
Today, more than 200 million people speak Portuguese around the world. Portuguese ranks eighth among the most spoken languages in the world (third among European languages, after English and Castilian).
Portuguese is the official language of eight countries: