176,000 (2009 census), increasing. 61,600 monolinguals.
Eastern Province, Tharaka district, south Meru district, some in Mwingi district.
Older people’s dialect more prestigious due to lack of borrowings. Many now use written materials. Home, social gatherings. All ages. Positive attitudes. Also use English [eng] in schools, offices. Kiswahili [swh] in churches, schools, jobs, sometimes in the home. Also use Gikuyu [kik], Kimîîru [mer].
Latin script [Latn].
Attitudes changing. People now view their language as important. Tharaka is place name. Ethnonym: Atharaka. Christian, traditional religion.