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Quick Facts


Total Worldwide Speakers: 787,630.


Language Family: Niger-Congo


Spoken in:

Zanzibar, coastal areas. Also in Burundi, Canada, Kenya, Libya, Mayotte, Mozambique, Oman, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States.


Swahili is a Bantu language spoken by about 35 million people in Tanzania, Burundi, Congo (Kinshasa) Kenya, Mayotte, Mozambique, Oman, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, UAE and the USA. Swahili is an official language of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya and is used as a lingua franca throughout East Africa. The name Swahili comes from the Arabic word sawahil (coasts) and the language contains a lot of vocabulary from Arabic, Persian, Malagasy, English, German and Portuguese. The earliest known manuscript in Swahili, a poetic epic, was written in the Arabic script and dates from 1728. During the the 19th century Swahili was used as the main language of administration by the European colonial powers in East Africa and under their influence the Latin alphabet was increasingly used to write it. The first Swahili newspaper, Habari ya Mwezi, was published by missionaries in 1895.



Sources: The Ethnologue & Omniglot


Talk Now! - Swahili

An interactive language learning program, Talk Now! is an excellent program for beginners to a new language. Features include speech recording to compare your voice to those of native speakers, quizzes, a printable dictionary, and more. Compatible on both PCs and Macs.