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For most widely spoken mother tongue in the EU, Italian comes joint second at 13%, with English, and after German at 16%. Italian is not confined to Italy: it extends into southern Switzerland and other communities including Vatican City and San Marino. And it is recognised as an official language in parts of Slovenia and Croatia among others.
Italian is related to other popular languages. Italian is a part of the Romance group of languages, and it has a lot in common with Spanish, French, Portuguese and other Latin-based languages. So if you already know one of these languages, Italian will be easier for you. And if you don’t, then knowing some Italian can help you learn these other languages later.
Of all the Romance languages, modern Italian is the closest to classical Latin in terms of vocabulary.