L1 users: 7,520,000 (2011 SIL). Total users in all countries: 7,544,380.
1 (National). Statutory national language (2010, Provisional Constitution, Article 6), use limited in higher education.
VOS; prepositions; noun head initial; definite article; verb affixes mark person, number; passives; tense; causatives; 29 consonants, 5 vowels, 3 diphthongs; non-tonal; stress on penultimate syllable.
The standard is most similar to the Merina dialect, with loans incorporated from Bantu languages, Swahili [swh], Arabic, English, French. Traditional religion, Christian, Muslim.