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The Swahili Language Landscape
Population of Congo (Democratic Republic of): 66,514,506 note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)
Languages: French (official), Lingala (a lingua franca trade language), Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba
Internet country code: .cd
Internet users: 180,000 (2006)
Swahili (called Kiswahili in the language itself) is the first language of the Swahili people (Waswahili), who inhabit several large stretches of the Indian Ocean coastline from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique, including the Comoros Islands. Although only 5-10 million people speak it as their native language, Swahili is a lingua franca of much of East Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a national or official language of four nations, and is the only language of African origin among the official working languages of the African Union.
Swahili is spoken natively by various groups traditionally inhabiting about 1,500 miles of the East African coastline. About 35% of the Swahili vocabulary derives from the Arabic language, resulting from the fact that the language evolved through centuries of contact between Arabic-speaking traders and many different Bantu-speaking peoples inhabiting Africa's Indian Ocean coast. It also has incorporated Persian, German, Indian and English words into its vocabulary due to contact with these different groups of people. Swahili has become a second language spoken by tens of millions in three countries, Tanzania, Kenya, and Congo (DRC), where it is an official or national language. The neighboring nation of Uganda made Swahili a required subject in primary schools in 1992 – although this mandate has not been well implemented – and declared it an official language in 2005. Swahili, or other closely related languages, is also used by relatively small numbers of people in Burundi, Rwanda, Mozambique, Somalia, and Zambia, and nearly the entire population of the Comoros.
Sources: CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia – Content available under GNU Free Documentation License Related Article: The Global Language Landscape – Languages in Use on the Internet
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