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Swahili

The Title

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Official Language: Tanzania

Lingua Franca: Burundi
Official Status: Comoros, Kenya, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo (ex Zaire), Uganda,
Home Speakers: Mozambique, Somalia, Zambia

Background
First language speakers are over 5 million, second language speakers exceed 30 . Swahili (or Kiswahili) belongs to the Benue-Congo family, Bantu group, but was strongly influenced by Arabic and Persian. "Swahili" is an Arabic word which means "of (from) the coast" or "people of the coast". As a matter of fact many Swahili words derived from Arabic and Persian languages, especially as a result of Persians and Arabs sailing to East Africa for trade many centuries ago. Some even assert that the Swahili culture and language actually have their roots from Persians and Arabs, but most recent archaeological discoveries show that the Swahili culture existed well before the arrival of Persians and Arabs to East Africa. Other languages, too, influenced Swahili: Portuguese, English and German, due to colonial influence. The later migration to the South of the Swahili people helped further spread the language to present-day Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique.

Reprinted from www.unhchr.ch/udhr/