A language of Angola

Alternate Names
Cuanhama, Humba, Kuanjama, Kwancama, Kwanjama, Kwanyama, Ochikwanyama, Oshikuanjama, Ovambo, Oxikuanyama, Wambo
Oshikwanyama, Oshiwambo

461,000 in Angola, all users. L1 users: 421,000 in Angola (Johnstone 1993). L2 users: 40,000 (2013 SIL). Total users in all countries: 1,481,000 (as L1: 1,441,000; as L2: 40,000).


South central, Namibian border: Cunene and Kuando Kubango provinces.

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Language Status

3 (Wider communication). De facto language of national identity. Its use as an LWC has its origin in its status as the language of the powerful Kwanyama kingdom, influential in what is now southern Angola and northern Namibia throughout the colonial period up to the year 1917. Used in the eastern half of Kunene Province in church, market, business, and media domains.


Kwanyama, Mbadja. Intelligible with Ndonga [ndo] and Kwambi [kwm].

Language Use

Used as L2 by Nkumbi [khu], Northwestern !Kung [vaj].

Language Development

Most adults can read it, while most youth cannot. To date, it is used as a written standard by the Mbadja people as well as the Kwanyama people (2014 SIL). Used in first grade only in some schools. Literature. Dictionary. Bible: 1974.


Braille script [Brai]. Latin script [Latn], primary usage.

Also spoken in:

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