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Swahili language

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Native to Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Mayotte (mostly Comorian), Mozambique (mostly Mwani), Oman, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda[1]
Native speakers 26 million  (2007)[2]
120 million L2 speakers[3]
Language family
Writing system Latin, Arabic
Official status
Official language in  African Union
 Comoros (as Comorian)
Regulated by Baraza la Kiswahili la Taifa (Tanzania)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 sw
ISO 639-2 swa
ISO 639-3 swainclusive code
Individual codes:
swc – Congo Swahili
swh – Coastal Swahili
Guthrie code G.42–43;
G.40.A–H (pidgins & creoles)
Linguasphere 99-AUS-m
Zone swahili.jpg
Areas where Swahili is spoken

The Swahili language is a language widely spoken in East Africa. In the Swahili language its name is Kiswahili. It is a Bantu language.

The Swahili language is spoken in a wide area from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique and all of Kenya. There are about five million first-language speakers and fifty million second-language speakers. Swahili has become a language with which people can communicate within East Africa and the surrounding areas.

The Swahili language began to be spoken by the Swahili people who live on the coast of East Africa and on the islands near the coast, including Zanzibar, which is now a part of Tanzania. Swahili is an official language in Tanzania and Kenya. It has been influenced by many other languages like the Arabic language.

Swahili vocabulary

The words below are examples of the Swahili language.

  • yes - ndiyo
  • no - hapana
  • okay - sawa
  • City - mji
  • Country - nchi


  1. Ethnologue list of countries where Swahili is spoken
    Thomas J. Hinnebusch, 1992, "Swahili", International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, Oxford, pp. 99–106
    David Dalby, 1999/2000, The Linguasphere Register of the World's Languages and Speech Communities, Linguasphere Press, Volume Two, pg. 733–735
    Benji Wald, 1994, "Sub-Saharan Africa", Atlas of the World's Languages, Routledge, pp. 289–346, maps 80, 81, 85
  2. Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
  3. Swahili language at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  4. Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online

Other websites