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What languages are spoken in Tanzania?

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Tanzania is a linguistically diverse country, and several languages are spoken. However, two main languages serve as the official languages:


Swahili: Swahili, also known as Kiswahili, is the national language and is widely spoken across Tanzania. It is used in education, government, and daily life. Swahili is also a lingua franca in East Africa, making it useful for travelers.


Here are some words and phrases frequently used by tourists in Tanzania:

Jambo: A friendly Swahili greeting that translates to "Hello."

Asante / Asante sana: "Thank you" / "Thank you very much."

Karibu: Swahili for "Welcome," often used by locals to greet tourists.

Hakuna matata: A widely recognized phrase from Swahili that means "No worries."

Safari: Refers to a journey, expedition, or tour, often used to describe wildlife or cultural excursions.

Pole pole: "Slowly, slowly" in Swahili, encouraging a relaxed pace.

Mambo / Vipi: Informal greetings that mean "What's up?" or "How are you?"

Lala salama: "Good night" or "Sleep well."

Chakula: "Food" in Swahili.

Maji: "Water" in Swahili.

Ndiyo / Hapana: "Yes" / "No."

Tafadhali: "Please."

Bei gani?: "How much does it cost?"

Sawa: "Okay" or "All right."

Nzuri: "Good" or "Fine."

Hoteli: "Hotel."

Nafurahi kukutana nawe: "Nice to meet you."

Usiku mwema: "Good evening."

Sindio / Siyo: "Is it?" / "Isn't it?"

Baridi: "Cold."

What languages are spoken in Tanzania?
What languages are spoken in Tanzania?

English: English is another official language and is used in government, business, and education. Most Tanzanians, particularly in urban areas and the tourism industry, have a reasonable command of English.

What languages are spoken in Tanzania?
What languages are spoken in Tanzania?

In addition to Swahili and English, Tanzania is home to numerous ethnic groups, each with its own languages and dialects. These languages include but are not limited to:


Chaga (Kichaga)

Sukuma (Kisukuma)

Maasai (Maa)

Meru (Kimeru)

Haya (Kihaya)

Gogo (Kigogo)


Learning a few basic Swahili phrases can enhance your travel experience in Tanzania, but English is generally sufficient for communication, especially in tourist areas.


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