Languages spoken in Tanzania

With around 129 different ethnic groups, the Republic of Tanzania has evolved the greatest linguistic diversity in the whole of the African continent with four major African language bases, ranging from Bantu, Cushitic and the Nilotic languages to the less comprehensively spoken Khoisan. One of the founding directives of independent Tanzania was that no ethnic group should dominate, and this was made easier by the fact that none of the 129 tribes and sub-tribes exceeds much more than 10% of the country’s overall population. A governmental drive continues to reduce tribal differentiation by promoting Swahili.

Children in a local Tanzanian village

With such a diversity of people contained within the boundaries of Tanzania, having Swahili as a national language has brought about the country’s strong sense of national identity. It is interesting to note that in Tanzania all primary school education is taught in Swahili, but when school children graduate from primary school and enter secondary school, the medium of instruction switches overnight to English. This makes for an incredibly difficult adjustment and many children drop out of school or fail their national exams at this point.

Tanzanian women

As the national language, Swahili is the most widely spoken language with English being largely absent from rural Tanzania and only really found in the larger towns, cities and tourist areas.


Popular Tanzania Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

 | Best of Africa Safari (16 days)

Best of Africa Safari (16 days)

Experience the best of Africa, from the Okavango Delta – one of Africa's Seven Natural Wonders – to the endangered mountain gorillas and East Africa's Great Migration...

 | Tanzania July to October Great Migration Safari with HerdTracker (9 days)

Tanzania July to October Great Migration Safari with HerdTracker (9 days)

The wildebeest migration, is one of the “Seven New Wonder of the World” and also known as The World Cup of Wildlife. If there is a safari you should go on, this has to be it!...

 | Wildebeest Migration, Ngorongoro & Zanzibar Journey (12 days)

Wildebeest Migration, Ngorongoro & Zanzibar Journey (12 days)

This blockbuster Tanzania safari will show you the best of the country's outstanding wildlife and the beach paradise of Zanzibar...

 | Wildebeest Migration Safari in Tanzania (11 days)

Wildebeest Migration Safari in Tanzania (11 days)

This tour is designed to allow maximum exposure to the Great Wildebeest Migration...

 | HerdTracker’s February Wildebeest Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)

HerdTracker's February Wildebeest Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)

Travelling to Tanzania during the calving season is a sight to behold and something unique to the region...

 | The Serengeti on Foot (9 days)

The Serengeti on Foot (9 days)

There's no better way to get close to nature and feel alive than on foot, and no better place to walk than the remarkable Serengeti...

Asilia Africa | Spectacular July to September Wildebeest River Crossings  (10 days)

Spectacular July to September Wildebeest River Crossings (10 days)

Experience one of Africa's greatest spectacles – smell the dust and hear the noise of thousands of animals crossing the Mara River...

 | June to July Great Migration Safari in Tanzania with HerdTracker (9 days)

June to July Great Migration Safari in Tanzania with HerdTracker (9 days)

HerdTracker invites you to join them on a migration safari in Tanzania's Arusha, Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park....

Game viewing | Green Season Wildebeest Migration Safari (11 days)

Green Season Wildebeest Migration Safari (11 days)

This four-in-one calving season safari includes not only the Serengeti, but Tarangire, Lake Manyara and the Ngorogoro Crater...

Pel's Fishing Owl in flight | Secret Selous Game Reserve Sojourn (6 days)

Secret Selous Game Reserve Sojourn (6 days)

Explore the Selous Game Reserve and Stiegler's Gorge by 4x4, boat or walking safari, looking for Pel's fishing owl, wild dog, rhino and elephant...

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