Italian (italiano, or lingua italiana) is a Romance language spoken by about 63 million people, primarily in Italy and Switzerland. In both of those places, Italian is an official language (in Switzerland along with German and French). Italian is also the official language of San Marino. Standard Italian adopted by the state after the unification of Italy is based on Tuscan dialect and is somewhat intermediate between Italo-Dalmatian languages of the South and Northern Italian dialects of the North.
Unlike most other Romance languages, Italian has retained the contrast between short and long consonants which existed in Latin. As in most Romance languages, stress is distinctive. Of the Romance languages, Italian is considered to be one of the closest resembling Latin in terms of vocabulary, though Romanian most closely preserves the noun declension system of Classical Latin, and Spanish the verb conjugation system (see Old Latin), while Sardinian is the most conservative in terms of phonology.