google-site-verification: googlecb803562c78427f3.html Top 8 Most Spoken African Languages ​​| Kingdom of Africa



Posted by Florian Cheval on


Africa is a huge continent.
I mean, really huge, more than you would expect. We're talking about a continent as big as the United States, India, China and most of Europe combined. For us language enthusiasts, that means more languages ​​than you can count. Africa is a veritable buffet for the learner. In fact, it is estimated that there may be more 3,000 languages spoken in Africa!

The main languages ​​of the continent are Arabic, French and English. Arabic has been ranked the 5th most spoken language in the world by the Ethnologue research group, with over 240 million speakers in the world. In Africa, there are more than 100 million speakers, including more than 54 million in Egypt. It is also the most widespread official language on the continent, particularly in Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

English and French are widely spoken across the continent, although the number of native speakers is probably lower than that of Amharic. For example, English has approximately 5 million native speakers in South Africa and probably less than 10 million across the continent.

African languages ​​are part of four linguistic groups, namely Afro-Asiatic which covers North Africa, the central Sahara and the Horn of Africa, the Nilo-Saharan which covers central and eastern Africa, Niger-Congo which covers central, southern and eastern Africa and khoisan which covers the western part of southern Africa. Discover below the eleven most spoken African languages ​​on the continent for doing business or enjoying tourist destinations and discovering the diverse cultures of the continent:


Swahili is the most widely spoken language in Africa, with more than 100 million speakers. It is a Bantu language believed to have evolved from other languages, primarily Arabic, due to historical interactions between Middle Eastern Arabs and East Africans. Swahili is the official language of the Tanzania , as well as the means of instruction in all schools. It is also the official language of Kenya and Uganda. Other Swahili nations include Rwanda, Burundi, southern Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, northern Mozambique, and the Comoros. To greet in Swahili, we say “ Jambo ”, or “ Habari ” when greeting an elder. 

Swahili is very attractive to many learners because of its wide distribution and history. Kiswahili (the name of the language in Swahili) means "coastal language" and it is a commercial language that was created to facilitate communications between a number of ethnic groups in southern and eastern Africa.

It is not too difficult for French speakers to learn it. Unlike many African languages, Swahili does not use tones and, unlike Arabic and Amharic, it uses the Latin alphabet. If you know some Arabic, you have a good head start, because there are tons of similar words in Swahili.

Plus, I guarantee you already know a handful of words in Swahili. For what ? The writers of Disney's "Lion King" have had a bit of a love affair with Swahili. Hakuna Matata ? It's the Swahili word for "no worries"! Simba ? It's the Swahili word for "lion"!


Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia and is the second most spoken language in the country after Oromo, with over 21 million speakers. It is the second most widely spoken Semitic language in the world after Arabic, and it is also the language of more than 2 million Ethiopians living outside the country. Semitic languages ​​are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East. Amharic, along with Arabic, Hebrew and Tigrinya, are the most widely spoken Semitic languages ​​in the world by native speakers. It is written in Ge'ez or Ethiopian, with more than 30 different characters. To say hello in Amharic, we say “ Salam ”.

Amharic is beautiful when spoken, and it is even more stunning when written in its unique script. It uses an alphasyllabary called fidel - basically, each "letter" represents a consonant/vowel combination, but the shapes of the consonants and vowels change depending on the combinations.

Learn to write " fidel" may take a little longer than learning the Arabic script, but it is still within the reach of the average learner. Try to take advantage of tools like SRS (Spaced Repetition Systems) to effectively memorize each letter and its different combinations.

Amharic also hosts a growing number of Ethiopian literature. Poetry and novels are both popular, and learning Amharic will allow you to experience literature that is very different from that of the rest of the world. Once you have learned the basics, try reading the most famous Amharic novel, “ Fiqir Iske Meqabir ” (translated into French by “ Love to the Crypt ”) by Haddis Alemayehu.


Yoruba is one of the most widely spoken languages ​​in West Africa, with over 30 million speakers in Nigeria, Benin and Togo, and it is one of the official languages ​​of Nigeria. It is also widely spoken by West African expatriates in the United States and the United Kingdom. It is the native language of the Yoruba people in Nigeria, and has over fifteen dialects , including Awori, Ijesha, Ilaje and Ila. It is a tonal language with three tones: high, medium and low, and is part of the Volta-Nigerian branch of the Niger-Congo language family. To say hello in Yoruba, we say “ Bawo ”.


Oromo is spoken by more than 30 million people in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Egypt. The Oromo make up more than 40% of Ethiopia's population and are the largest ethnic group in the country. Writing this language was banned between 1974 and 1991 under the Mengistu regime , although limited use of the Ge'ez script was permitted. After 1991, the language adopted the Latin alphabet. It is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. To say hello in Oromo, we say “Akkam”.


Hausa is one of the official languages ​​of Nigeria and one of the most widely spoken Chadian languages ​​on the continent, with over 40 million native and second language speakers. It is the language of the Hausa people of northern Nigeria and southern Niger, and quickly spread as the lingua franca of West Africa through trade. It is mainly spoken in northern Nigeria, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo, Eritrea, Germany, Ghana, Sudan, Togo and a large part of North Africa. It uses Boko and the Latin alphabet as its writing system, and is also the basic language of most Muslim populations in West Africa. To say hello in Hausa, we say “ Sannu ”.

6. IGBO – “NNOO”

Igbo is one of the official languages ​​of Nigeria. It is spoken by more than 20 million people, with significant numbers of speakers in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. The language has over 20 dialects, with Central Igbo being the most widespread. The language was highlighted by the author Chinua Achebe , who wrote the popular book " Things Fall Apart " and wrote most of his books in Igbo, reflecting and popularizing Igbo culture. It is part of the Volta-Nigerian branch of the Niger-Congo language family. To say hello in Igbo, we say “ Nnoo ”.


Zulu, or Zulu, is one of the official languages ​​of South Africa and has more than 10 million speakers. It is part of the language family Bantu/Nguni and is mainly spoken in eastern South Africa. It is the second most widely spoken Bantu language, after Shona, and is written with the Latin alphabet. It is characterized by unique clicking sounds in the dialect, resulting from the influence of the Khoisan language. To say hello in Zulu, we say “ Sawubona ”.


Shona is the most widely spoken language in Zimbabwe, with over 10 million speakers in a population of over 14 million. It is a Bantu language of the Bantu/Nguni language family, with speakers in Botswana and Mozambique. It is the main language of Zimbabwe, along with ndebele and English. To say hello in Shona, we say “Mhoro”.

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