Languages in Zambia

multiple languages in zambia Multiple ethnicity in Zambia mean a plethora of languages and dialects

Zambia’s official language is English, but there are more than 70 different languages and dialects spoken throughout the country. Almost everyone will speak or understand some English and most Zambians living in the urban centres speak it fluently.

Signs and official documentation are almost always in English and/or Bemba and Nyanja, the country’s two most widely spoken local languages. Bemba is spoken by more than two million Zambians and is used frequently in education and administration. Nyanja, a Bantu language spoken by approximately one million Zambians, is also prominent in major centres, especially Lusaka and Livingstone.

Nyanja is the official language of the police and also spoken in neighbouring Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique. Tonga is spoken by about 11% of the population, and is commonly used in the media.

Other major languages include Lozi (about 500000 speakers), Tumbuka (about 400000 speakers), Nsenga (about 300000 speakers), Lunda (about 200000 speakers) and Luvale (also about 200000 speakers). Luyana, Mambwe-Lungu, Mashi, Mbunda, Nkoya-Mbwela, Luchazi, and Nyika make up the rest of Zambia’s main languages, spoken by various groups across the country.


Our Recommended Itinerary

Best of Zambia Wilderness Safari (10 days)

day 1 to 4

Welcome to Zambia

day 5 to 7

Most relaxed and unique camp

day 8 to 9

Explore the mighty Victoria Falls

day 10

We're sad to see you leave!

View Full Itinerary

Popular Zambia Safaris

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

Camp fire | Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Chobe Safari (7 days)

Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Chobe Safari (7 days)

This three-in-one journey will show you the majestic Victoria Falls, the massive elephant bulls of Chobe and the natural wonder that is the Okavango Delta...

 | Luxury Safari in Botswana and Victoria Falls (7 days)

Luxury Safari in Botswana and Victoria Falls (7 days)

Experience the paradise of Botswana and enjoy game viewing as well as exciting activities in Zambia ...

 | Luxurious South Africa and Zambia Honeymoon Safari (10 days)

South Africa and Zambia honeymoon

Explore the romantic Atlantic Ocean with it's multi-cultural heritage and a Big Five safari in the Sabi Sands, finally ending off at Victoria Falls from the Zambian side...

 | Wilderness safari in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe (10 days)

Wilderness safari in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe (10 days)

Why not visit more than one exciting African destination? See the Great Migration, Victoria Falls and wildlife-rich Hwange National Park...

 | City and Safari in Southern Africa (14 days)

City and Safari in Southern Africa (14 days)

Majestic wildlife and the riches of Africa. ...

 | Jewels of Zimbabwe and Zambia Safari (9 days)

Jewels of Zimbabwe and Zambia Safari (9 days)

Fall under the spell of three prime attractions in Zimbabwe and Zambia – Victoria Falls, Hwange National Park and the Mana Pools ...

Boating on the Chobe River | Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)

Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)

Visit Livingstone, Zambia, to marvel at the Victoria Falls – or 'the smoke that thunders' – before going on safari and a river cruise in Botswana's Chobe National Park...

Romantic view | Deluxe Honeymoon Safari in Cape Town, Kruger and Victoria Falls (10 days)

Deluxe Honeymoon Safari in Cape Town, Kruger and Victoria Falls (10 days)

Combine three of Southern Africa's most loved destinations into one romantic getaway and you'll share the memories forever...

Boat at sunset | Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)

Luxury Zambian Odyssey (7 days)

One week safari to three Zambian national parks, including the flagship South Luangwa, and end in style with a visit to the remarkable Victoria Falls...

Victoria Falls | Grand Zambia Wildlife Safari (9 days)

Grand Zambia Wildlife Safari (9 days)

Combine water and wildlife in a journey that takes you from the Victoria Falls to Kafue and South Luangwa national parks – Zambia at its best...



You might also like

Lower Zambezi National Park

Lower Zambezi National Park is one of Zambia’s premier wildlife destinations, certainly in the top three with South Luangwa and Kafue. Ravaged by poaching in the 1980s, the park has since recovered well, though tragically the rhino population was wiped out completely. Wildlife viewing is best along the rivers, which border the park on three sides. The Zambezi River itself is the…

Photographic holiday in Zambia

Zambia is an incredible country to photograph, with its stunning wilderness landscapes, superb birdlife and some of the best opportunities for up-close wildlife interactions in Africa. Every corner of the country has something to offer, but two experiences in particular stand out. In late winter, ideally just before the rains begin in November, keen photographers should head to Liuwa…

Zambia in February

February in Zambia is much the same as January, with short, fierce afternoon thunderstorms, swollen rivers and washed-out roads. It can be a difficult time to visit in Zambia, unless you’re flying into a specialist lodge that operates throughout the season. These usually offer their best safari deals from January to April and will sometimes have discounts for families and children.…

Relaxed holiday in Zambia

Just about every kind of holiday in Zambia is intrinsically relaxing – there’s something especially rejuvenating about spending time in such wild, pristine wilderness. That said, there’s perhaps nothing more quintessentially relaxing than a fishing holiday, and a fishing holiday on a fully-catered houseboat is hard to beat. Whether to fish or not is completely up to you of course.…

Solo holiday in Zambia

As Zambia’s road and transport infrastructure continues to develop, even its more remote regions will become exciting options for solo travellers. For the time being, however, the country’s more isolated corners are best explored in company, and ideally with an extra vehicle as backup if you’re planning to self-drive. In general, solo travellers will have the best experience by…

Zambia in December

December is the start of Zambia’s rainy season – generally cooler than the previous few months, but nevertheless still hot and humid. Expect daytime averages of roughly 30°C and nights down to only around 20°C. Rainstorms can be fierce, with heavy downpours rapidly turning the dirt roads to mud. Camps and lodges without fly-in access close completely and many close anyway due to…

Packing list for Zambia

The first thing to do when preparing for Zambia is to book an appointment with a local travel clinic and go and speak to a doctor. The internet is full of African health and safety horror stories, but for safari holidays the risks are generally very low and/or easily manageable. If you’re at all concerned, speak to a professional. They’re likely to advise you to get your immunisations…

Zambia travel advice

What practical information should I know about Zambia? There are so many ways to experience Zambia that an entire book would be required for an exhaustive pre-holiday checklist. If you’re on an all-inclusive fly-in safari, for example, then just about every need will be thoroughly taken care of, from food to flight transfers to emergency evacuation services. Not so at all if you’re…

Ready to start your adventure?

+27 (0)21 422 3498
   discover.africa
    info@discoverafrica.com
    Mon - Fri: 8AM - 9PM GMT+2