Classified as a Romance language, Italian is spoken as a first language mostly in Europe. Unlike other Romance languages, it retains specific features of Latin, most notably the contrast between short and long consonants. It's also the closest to Latin in terms of vocabulary. Italian is spoken as a native language by 13% of citizens of the European Union (approximately 59 million), and as a second language by 3% (13 million). A total of about 85 million people around the world speak Italian as a native language.