A language of Botswana

Alternate Names
Bechuana, Beetjuans, Chuana, Chwana, Coana, Cuana, Sechuana, Secoana, Secwana, Tshwana
Setswana, Tswana

1,860,000 in Botswana, all users. L1 users: 1,710,000 in Botswana (2015). L2 users: 150,000. Total users in all countries: 13,664,710 (as L1: 5,814,710; as L2: 7,850,000).


Widespread as lingua franca; Central district: Mahalapye and Serowe-Palapye subdistricts; Kgatleng and South East districts; Kweneng and Southern districts: east; North West district: Maun village area.

Language Status

1 (National). De facto national language.


Tlahaping (Thlaping, Tlapi), Rolong, Kwena, Kgatla, Ngwatu (Ngwato), Tawana, Lete, Ngwaketse, Tlokwa, Sehurutshe. High intelligibility among Southern Sotho [sot], Northern Sotho [nso], and Setswana. Standard Setswana is based on the Sehurutshe dialect and is nearly identical to it.

Language Use

Vigorous. Used among the educated. More for spoken purposes than written. Used by all.

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 80%–90%. Official language of instruction grades 1–4 in all government primary schools. Taught in primary schools. Newspapers. Periodicals. Radio. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1857–1993.


Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

90%–95% of children complete standard 7 in primary school. Christian, traditional religion.

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