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

 | February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)

February Calving Season Safari in Tanzania (9 days)

Visit Tanzania during the calving season to see wildebeest calves join the massive herds making their way through the Serengeti for the great migration....

 | 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...

 | Honeymoon Safari in the Serengeti National Park (6 days)

Honeymoon Safari in the Serengeti National Park (6 days)

Enjoy a romantic honeymoon at the Ngorongoro Crater where you can spot the Big Five and experience the wildlife-rich Serengeti National Park...

 | Tanzania couples safari

Tanzania couples safari

Enjoy the wildlife of Tanzania as well as the paradise of Zanzibar...

 | HerdTracker July/October Great Wildebeest Migration safari

HerdTracker July/October Great Wildebeest Migration safari

The movement takes place in Tanzania, which covers Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha and Tarangire National Park...

 | Great Migration Safari in the Serengeti (9 days)

Great Migration Safari in the Serengeti (9 days)

Join HerdTracker on a Tanzania migration safari in the Serengeti National Park....

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...

 | Gorilla trekking and the Great Migration Combined (11 days)

Gorilla trekking and the Great Migration Combined (11 days)

Unforgettable experience in the jungles of Rwanda to track the last Mountain gorillas on earth and view the awesome Great Migration river crossings...

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...

Stopping for drinks | Affordable Green Season Safari in Tanzania (8 days)

Affordable Green Season Safari in Tanzania (8 days)

From Lake Manyara to the Ngorogoro Crater and the Serengeti, this Tanzania safari offers real value and shows off the burgeoning green world of Tanzania's rainy season migration ...

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