4,880 (1994 SIL), decreasing. Ethnic population: 4,880.
Oromia region: Lake Zway shores and east islands.
Use of Zay is decreasing due to migration from the islands (the traditional homeland) to the lakeshore, where they become Oromo [orm] speakers. Oromo is also taught in island schools. Speaker number decrease also attributed to dominant role of Amharic [amh] (Dimmendaal and Voeltz 2007). Island children learn Zay; lakeshore children learn Oromo [orm]. Also use Amharic [amh].
Zway refers to the lake and town. Ethnic autonym: Zay; Lak’i (Laqi) is the Oromo name for the people.