Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews or Sephardim (Hebrew: סְפָרַדִּים, Modern Hebrew: Sefaraddim, Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm; also יְהוּדֵי סְפָרַדYe'hude Sepharad, lit. "The Jews of Spain", Spanish: Judíos sefardíes, Portuguese: Judeus sefarditas), originally from Sepharad, Spain, or the Iberian peninsula, are a Jewish ethnic division. They established communities throughout areas of modern Spain and Portugal, where they traditionally resided, evolving what would become their distinctive characteristics and diasporic identity, which they took with them in their exile from Iberia beginning in the late 15th century to North Africa, Anatolia, the Levant, Southeastern and Southern Europe, as well as the Americas, and all other places of their exiled settlement, either alongside pre-existing co-religionists, or alone as the first Jews in new frontiers. Their millennial residence as an open and organised Jewish community in Iberia began to decline with the Reconquista and was brought to an end starting with the Alhambra Decree by Spain's Catholic Monarchs in 1492, and then by the edict of expulsion of Jews and Muslims by Portuguese king Manuel I in 1496, which resulted in a combination of internal and external migrations, mass conversions and executions.
More broadly, the term Sephardim has today also come sometimes to refer to traditionally Eastern Jewish communities of West Asia and beyond who, although not having genealogical roots in the Jewish communities of Iberia, have adopted a Sephardic style of liturgy and Sephardic law and customs imparted to them by the Iberian Jewish exiles over the course of the last few centuries. This article deals with Sephardim within the narrower ethnic definition.
Historically, the vernacular languages of Sephardim and their descendants have been variants of either Spanish or Portuguese, though other tongues had been adopted and adapted throughout their history. The historical forms of Spanish or Portuguese that differing Sephardic communities spoke communally was determined by the date of their departure from Iberia, and their condition of departure as Jews or New Christians.