May 5th is the International Day of the Portuguese Language and Culture. This day was established by the 14th CPLP Council of Ministers during their meeting, which was held in Cape Verde in June 2009. May 5th was specifically set aside to help in the celebration of the common linguistic and cultural ties that bind the 8 countries which belong to the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP). CPLP was formed in 1996 and it represents a community of countries where Portuguese is used as the official language. This includes Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Angola, Guinea Bissau, East Timor, Principe and Sao Tome. The language is also spoken in other countries, such as the USA and Canada. Portuguese is the most widely spoken European language after English and Spanish. There are a total of 240 million people who speak this language worldwide.
Portuguese is a Romance language, which descended from the Latin language. This is one of the things that make it a difficult language to learn. This is because one expects the Portuguese language to be closely related to other Romance languages but rather, its closed vowels and shushing consonants makes Portuguese to sound closer to a European language rather than a Romance language. However, knowledge of French, Italian and Spanish makes it easier to understand the written Portuguese language. Portuguese is taught as a foreign language in a number of countries. This includes Uruguay, South Africa, Zambia, Congo, Senegal, Swaziland, Namibia, Venezuela and Argentina. Portuguese has been classified as one of the fastest growing languages in the world, after English. The main Portuguese dialects include Standard European Portuguese and Standard Brazilian Portuguese.
In 1916, the reformed Portuguese orthography was introduced. In this writing system, words were pronounced the same way they were spelled. This was later revised in 1943 and 1970. In 2009, a new Portuguese orthography which aims to come up with a unified written version for all the countries where Portuguese is officially spoken was introduced in Brazil. The orthography has not yet been introduced in other Portuguese speaking countries.