Today Polish is the official language of Poland; it is spoken by most of the 38 million inhabitants of Poland (census 2002). There are also some native speakers of Polish in western Belarus and Ukraine, as well as in eastern Lithuania. Because of emigration from Poland in various periods, millions of Polish-speakers may be found in countries such as France, Ireland, Australia, Israel, Brazil, Canada, the United Kingdom, United States, etc. The estimated number of Poles who live beyond the borders of Poland is 10 million. It is not clear, however, how many of them can actually speak Polish - the estimates range from 3.5 to 10 million. This puts the number of native speakers of Polish worldwide at between 40 and 48 million. According to Ethnologue, there are about 43 million first language speakers of Polish worldwide.
Polish has the second largest number of speakers among Slavic languages after Russian. It is the main representative of the Lechitic branch of the West Slavic languages. The Polish language originated in the areas of present-day Poland from several local Western Slavic dialects, most notably those spoken in Greater Poland and Lesser Poland. It shares some vocabulary with the languages of the neighboring Slavic nations, most notably with Slovak, Czech, Ukrainian, and Belarusian.Free Quote