Arabic is the largest living member of the Semitic language family in terms of speakers. However, estimates of native speakers vary greatly between 186 and 422 million.

Classified as Central Semitic, it is closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic, and has its roots in a Proto-Semitic common ancestor. Modern Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage with 27 sub-languages in ISO 639-3. These varieties are spoken throughout the Arab world, and Standard Arabic is widely studied and known throughout the Islamic world.

During the Middle Ages, Arabic was a major vehicle of culture, especially in science, mathematics and philosophy, with the result that many European languages have also borrowed numerous words from it, especially Spanish and Portuguese due to both the proximity of European and Arab civilization and 700 years of caliphate government in the Iberian peninsula.

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See also: International Organisation Profiles - Arab League

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