Swahili language resources
Swahili is spoken on a daily basis in: Kenya, Oman, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi
Additional background on
This article is about the language. For the East African people, see Swahili people.
Swahili (also called Kiswahili; see below for derivation) is a Bantu language widely spoken in East Africa. Swahili is the mother tongue of the Swahili people who inhabit a 1500 km stretch of the East African coast from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique. It is spoken by over 50 million people, of whom there are approximately five million first-language speakers and thirty to fifty million second-language speakers. Swahili has become a lingua franca for East Africa and surrounding areas. It is the Sub-Saharan African language with the most speakers.
The name 'Kiswahili' comes from the plural of the Arabic word sahel ????: sawahil ????? meaning "boundary" or "coast" (used as an adjective to mean "coastal dwellers" or, by adding 'ki-' ["language"] to mean "coastal language"). The word "sahel" is also used for the border zone of the Sahara ("desert"). The incorporation of the final "i" is likely to be the nisba in Arabic (of the coast ??????), although some state it is for phonetic reasons.
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All data is derived from UNESCO.