Esperanto is the most widely spoken constructed international language. The name derives from D-ro Esperanto, the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof first published the Unua Libro in 1887. Zamenhof's goal was to create an easy and flexible language as a universal second language to foster peace and international understanding.
Although no country has adopted the language officially, it has enjoyed continuous usage by a growing community of several million speakers. Today, Esperanto is employed in world travel, correspondence, cultural exchange, conventions, literature, language instruction, and radio broadcasting. There are even about a thousand native speakers of the language.
There is evidence that learning Esperanto before another foreign language improves one's ability to learn that language, so much so that it takes less time to learn both than it would to learn just the second.
As a recently constructed language, Esperanto's history is short and relatively well-known. It was developed in the late 1870s and early 1880s by Dr. Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof. After some ten years of development, which Zamenhof spent translating literature into the language as well as writing original prose and verse, the first Esperanto grammar was published in Warsaw in July 1887. The number of speakers grew rapidly over the next few decades, at first primarily in the Russian empire and eastern Europe, then in western Europe and the Americas, China, and Japan. In the early years speakers of Esperanto kept in contact primarily through correspondence and magazines, but in 1905 the first world congress of Esperanto speakers was held in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. Since then world congresses have been held on five continents, every year except during the two World Wars, and have been attended by up to 6000 people.
Esperanto is part of the state educational curriculum of several countries, but is not an official language of any. There were plans at the beginning of the 20th century to establish Neutral Moresnet as the world's first Esperanto state, and the short-lived artificial island micronation of Ros Island used Esperanto as its official language in 1968. In China, there was talk in some circles after the 1911 Xinhai Revolution about officially replacing Chinese with Esperanto as a means to dramatically bring the country into the twentieth century, although this proved untenable. Esperanto is the working language of several non-profit international organizations such as the Sennaciec Asocio Tutmonda and the United Citizens Alliance, but most others are specifically Esperanto organizations. The largest of these, the World Esperanto Association, has an official consultative relationship with the United Nations and UNESCO. The Oomoto religion encourages the use of Esperanto among their followers. The BahÃ¡'Ã Faith encourages the use of an auxilliary international language, and sees Esperanto as having great potential in this role.