Facts, Popular

Top 10 Most Spoken Languages in Africa

Africa is second largest and second most populous continent in the world with a total population of 1.111 billion.

African languages belong to one of the four language families: Afroasiatic, Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Congo and Khoisan. Around 2,000 languages are spoken in Africa. Nigeria alone has 250 languages, one of the greatest concentrations of linguistic diversity in the world. The people of this large continent also use a wide variety of sign languages.

Here are the top 10 most spoken languages in Africa.

10) Zulu (Speakers in Africa: More than 10 million)

Zulu (IsiZulu) is used in the Eastern part of South Africa. Its tongue clicks are unique. The language is written with Latin characters. It is used widely in the South African media. According to Ethnologue, Zulu is the second most spoken Bantu language after Shona.


9) Amharic (Speakers in Africa: 18.7 million)

Amharic is the second most spoken Semitic language (after Arabic) in the world. It is the official working language of Ethiopia. Outside Ethiopia, Amharic is the language of around 2.7 million emigrants. More than 18.7 million people speak Amharic in Africa.


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  1. 1

    your info about Amharic, the second widely spoken Semitic language after Arabic, is incorrect, by 2007 it used to have more than 20 million speakers who use it as a first language. By now , undoubtfully its speakers could never be less than 30 million. Since it is the official and business language of Ethiopia, its speakers as a second language would be no less than this, though there is no official stat about the number of speakers who use Amharic as a second language, but almost all urban dwellers and anyone who finished a high school could speak it.

    • 2

      The Oromo language, Afaan Oromo, is widely spoken within Ethiopia and it is Africa’s fourth widely spoken language after Hausa, Arabic and Swahili with more than 40 million speakers ( in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia and Eritrea). The stat needs to be evidenced but Amharic as a national language and therefore widely spoken is misleading since Ethiopia does not have a national language after it adopted a Federal state structure. Amharic is not a national language but only a working language for the Federal government , Amhara regional state, Benishangul regional state and for some zones of the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State. Besides, not anyone who finished a high school could speak it! There are many people from regions where Amharic is not the working language who can not speak it. Amharic as a single course may be given leading to basic/elementary communication skills but generalizing anyone who finished a high school could speak it also misleading. 🙂

  2. 3

    I think you need correction: Native speakers for Amharic are 27 Million, however it is spoken by more than 85 Million people in Ethiopia out of its about 100 Million people, because it is the national language. Oromo is spoken by about 37 Million native people and about 40 Million people speak the language in the whole country. And also I see Somali nowhere which is spoken by close to 20 Million people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti.

  3. 4

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