A language of Tanzania

Alternate Names
Bajun, Kisuaheli, Kiswahili

15,000,000 in Tanzania (2012), increasing. L2 users: 32,000,000 in Tanzania (2015 D. Nurse). Total users in all countries: 98,054,860 (as L1: 15,754,860; as L2: 82,300,000).


Widespread. Formerly Zanzibar, coastal areas.

Language Status

1 (National). De facto national language.


Mrima (Mtang’ata), Unguja (Kiunguja, Zanzibar), Pemba, Mgao (Kimgao). Lexical similarity: Bajun dialect 85% with the Amu dialect, 78% with the Mvita dialect, 72% with the Mrima dialect; Mvita dialect 86% with Amu, 79% with Mrima; Mrima dialect 79% with Amu. A member of macrolanguage Swahili [swa].


SVO; prepositions; noun head initial; 7 noun classes; no articles; verb affixes mark person, number, object; passives; causatives; comparatives; 22 consonant and 5 vowel phonemes; non-tonal; stress on penultimate syllable.

Language Use

It is also common for people of numerous ethnic groups to speak Swahili as L1, especially in urban and very mixed areas. All domains. All ages. Positive attitudes.

Language Development
Language of instruction in primary school. In secondary school taught as a subject. Taught in primary and secondary schools. Fully developed. Bible: 1891–2009.

Braille script [Brai]. Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Muslim, Christian, traditional religion.

Also spoken in:

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