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10 most popular languages that are spoken in African continent

African Languages

You have read and known that Africa is the second most populous continent after Asia with over one billion people. But do not be surprised that Africa is also the largest continent with over 1500 different languages that are spoken here. African languages form part of four language groups, namely Afro-Asiatic covering Northern Africa, Central Sahara and the Horn of Africa, Nilo-Saharian covering Central and Eastern Africa, Niger-Congo covering Central, Southern and Eastern Africa and Khoisan, covering the western part of Southern Africa.

The principle languages on the continent include Arabic, French and English. In Africa, majority of native English speakers are from South Africa, and the language is most spoken in Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

In Africa, there are more than 100 million Arabic speakers, with Egypt accounting for more than 54 million. It is also the most widespread official language on the continent, including  Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.

Here below find the 10 most popular languages spoken in Africa.

1. Swahili

Swahili is widelyspoken language in Africa, with over 100 million speakers. It is a Bantu language originated from other languages, mainly Arabic, due to historical interactions between Arabs from the Middle East and East Africans. Swahili is Tanzania’s official language, as well as the medium of instruction in all schools. It is also Kenya’s official language as well as Uganda. Other Swahili speaking nations include Rwanda, Burundi, southern Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan northern Mozambique and the Comoros Islands.

2. Amharic

Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia and is the second most spoken language in the country after Oromo, with over 21 million speakers. It is the second most spoken Semitic language in the world after Arabic, and is also the language of over 2 million Ethiopians living outside of the country.

3. Yoruba

Yoruba is one of West Africa’s most spoken languages, accounting for over 30 million speakers in Nigeria, Benin and Togo, and it is one of Nigeria’s official languages. It is also widely spoken by West African expats in the US and UK. It is the mother tongue of the Yoruba people in Nigeria, and has over fifteen dialects including Awori, Ijesha, Ilaje and Ila.

4. Oromo

Oromo is spoken by over 30 million people in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Egypt. The Oromo people account for more than 40% of the Ethiopian population, and are the largest ethnic group in the country.

5. Hausa

Hausa is one of Nigeria’s official languages, and one of the most spoken Chadic languages on the continent, with over 40 million native and second language speakers. It originated as the language of the Hausa people in northern Nigeria and southern Niger, and soon spread as the lingua franca of western Africa due to trade. It is spoken mainly in northern Nigeria, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo, Eritrea, Germany, Ghana, Sudan, Togo and much of North Africa.

6. Igbo

Igbo is spoken by over 20 million people and is one of Nigeria’s official languages, with a significant amount of speakers in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. The language has more than 20 dialects, with Central Igbo being the most prevalent.

7. Zulu

Zulu or IsiZulu,  is one of South Africa’s official language, and has over 10 million speakers. It is a member of the Bantu/Nguni family of languages, and is spoken mainly in eastern South Africa.

8. Shona

Shona is the most spoken language in Zimbabwe, with over 10 million speakers in a population of over 14 million. It is Bantu language from the Bantu/Nguni family of languages, and has speakers in Botswana and Mozambique. It is the principle language of Zimbabwe, along with Ndebele and English.

9. Portuguese

Portuguese is the official language of six African states, including Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Sao Tome e Principe and Equatorial Guinea. These states are also referred to as Lusophone Africa. There are approximately 14 million people who use Portuguese as their mother tongue on the continent, and over 30 million secondary speakers.

10. French

Twenty-six African states form part of Francophone Africa, and thus the top French-speaking countries on the continent. There are over 120 million French speakers who use the language as their mother tongue or secondary language. The highest percentage of people who speak French are from Gabon, Mauritius, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Sao Tome e Principe, Tunisia, Guinea, Seychelles, Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea. The second largest French speaking country is Algeria, with over 50 percent of the population being French speakers.

Along with these 10 most popular spoke languages there are also others like Berber, Somali, Fulani, Kinyarwanda, Tigrinya and Spanish which are widely used in different parts of Africa. (Information Source: African History and Culture)