Italian (italiano or lingua italiana) is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, as a second language in Malta, Slovenia and Croatia, by minorities in Albania, Crimea,Eritrea, France, Libya, Monaco, Montenegro, Romania and Somalia, and by expatriate communities in Europe, in the Americas and in Australia. Many speakers are native bilinguals of both standardised Italian and other regional languages. Classification Italian is a Romance language, and is therefore a descendant of Vulgar Latin. Standard Italian is based on Tuscan, especially its Florentine dialect, and is therefore an Italo-Dalmatian language, to which Sicilian and the extinct Dalmatian also belong, among a few others. Unlike most other Romance languages, Italian retains Latin's contrast between short and long consonants. As in most Romance languages, stress is distinctive. In particular, among the Romance languages, Italian is the closest to Latin in terms of vocabulary. Lexical similarity is 89% with French, 88% with Catalan, 85% with Sardinian, 82% with Spanish and Portuguese, 78% with Rhaeto-Romance, and 77% with Romanian. Education Italian is widely taught in many schools around the world, but rarely as the first foreign language; in fact, Italian is considered the fourth most frequently taught foreign language in the world. According to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, every year there are more than 200,000 foreign students who study the Italian language. Dialects Throughout Italy, regional variations of Standard Italian, called Regional Italian, are spoken. In Italy, almost all Romance languages spoken as the vernacular—other than standard Italian and distantly-related, non-Romance languages spoken in border regions or among immigrant communities—are often imprecisely called "Italian dialects", even though they are quite different, with some belong to different branches of the Romance language family. The only exceptions to this are Sardinian, Lad in, and Friulan, which the law recognises as official regional languages. The Corsican language is also related to Italian.