Facts & Figures

The All Lab creates an information hub of accurate facts and figures coupled with state-of-the-art and mostly interactive visualizations for better understanding of African Languages.

African Languages Landscape

Underrepresented and unknown to many, African languages (over 2000) represent a third of all world languages. Despite their cultural significance, diversity, history, symbolic meaning, and wealth, little work has been done to preserve and solidify their presence in modern technologies such as AI.

This number should not be too surprising given the sheer size of the African continent. Africa is the second largest continent, only behind Asia, and accounts for over 20% of earth's land mass.

African Languages Representation

The over 2000 languages in Africa do not exist in silos. They are beautifully connected with each other and form a very informative family tree. Expand and explore most of them with this interactive family tree.

African Languages Extinction Map

A lot of African languages have gone extinct, others on the verge of extincting, and many more will continue this same path of extinction if no immediate actions are taken to halt the process.

That said, a lot of new languages and dialects are also created daily. Explore both the languages on the path to extinction and existing languages here with this interactive map.

Credit: Map of Languages in Africa by Issaka AI

Top 20 African Languages


1. Arabic

The Arabic language is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world and is named after the Arab people. There are three forms of Arabic: Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), Classical Arabic, and Colloquial (spoken) Arabic. MSA can only be acquired through formal education and is used in formal speeches, literature, official documents, and formal written media. Classical Arabic is a language of scholarship and religion with the spread of Islam and is not a spoken language. Colloquial Arabic refers to the regional Arabic dialects used in everyday communication and used in films, plays, and literature.In Africa, Arabic is spoken in countries such as Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Chad, Djibouti, Somalia, and Western Sahara.


2. Swahili

Swahili (Kiswahili) is the native language of the Swahili people, who are primarily found in Tanzania, Kenya, and Mozambique. It is spoken mainly in Tanzania, Kenya, Comoros, Mayotte, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Bajuni Islands (part of Somalia), northern Mozambique (mostly Mwani), Zambia, Malawi, and Madagascar. Swahili is a Bantu language and part of the Niger-Congo language family. Its speakers, either native or second-language, are estimated to be around 80 million.


3. Hausa

Hausa is a Chadic language in the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is spoken by Hausa people, who are predominantly Muslim, in the northern half of Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, northern Benin, northern Togo, and the southern half of Niger, Chad, and Sudan, with significant minorities in Ivory Coast. Hausa’s speakers are estimated to be around 72 million, considering both first-language and second-language speakers.


4. Oromo

Oromo, also known as Afaan Oromoo, is a Cushitic language in the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is native to the Ethiopian state of Oromia and Nothern Kenya and is spoken predominantly by the Oromo people and neighboring ethnic groups in the Horn of Africa. It is also spoken in small numbers by emigrants in other African countries such as South Africa, Libya, Egypt, and Suda. Oromo has the largest number of native speakers in Ethiopia, with more than 36 million speakers, and ranks second most widely spoken language in Ethiopia by the total number of speakers following Amharic.


5. Fula

Fula, also known as Fulani, is a Senegambian language in the Niger-Congo language family. Fula is spoken by around 25 million people across some 18 countries in West and Central Africa. It is spoken as a first language by the Fula people from the Senegambia region and Guinea to Cameroon, Nigeria, and Sudan and by related groups such as the Toucouleur people in the Senegal River valley. Fula is spoken as a second language in regions such as northern Cameroon and northeastern Nigeria.


6. Mande

Mande languages are in the Niger-Congo language family. They are spoken in several countries in West Africa by Mande peoples and including Maninka, Mandinka, Soninke, Bambara, Kpelle, Dioula, Bozo, Mende, Susu, and Vai. Mande languages consist of around 60 to 75 languages spoken by about 30 to 40 million people in regions such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ivory Coast, northwestern Nigeria and northern Benin.


7. Malagasy

Malagasy, a language from the Austronesian language family, is the national language of Madagascar. Its speakers are estimated to be around 25 million and are from Madagascar and Comoros. Malagasy was brought to Madagascar by the settlement of Austronesian peoples from the Sunda Islands around the 5th century AD. Malagasy has numerous Malay loanwords from the settlement and trading between Madagascar and the Sunda Islands. But after 1000 AD, numerous Bantu and Arabic loanwords were introduced to Malagasy by traders and new settlers. Malagasy has multiple dialects including Antankarana, Bara, Masikoro, Northern Betsimisaraka, Merina, Sakalava, Tanosy, Tesaka, and Tsimihety. The Merina dialect is considered the standard Malagasy and is spoken in the central highlands and the capital city, Antananarivo. It is the main dialect used by the government and media, and as a medium of instruction in Madagascan primary and secondary schools.


8. Somali

Somali is a Cushitic language in the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is spoken in the Horn of Africa region, which consists of countries like Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Kenya, and Djibouti. Somali is spoken as a mother tongue by Somalis in Somalia and as an official language in Somalia and Ethiopia. It is also a national language in Djibouti and northeastern Kenya. Its speakers are estimated to be around 20 million worldwide.The Somali language can be divided into two regional varieties, which share similarities in their written forms but are very different in spoken forms. The first variety is Af Maay, also known as Maay Maay, and is used as the lingua franca of the Somali. The second variety is Al Maxaa, which became the official written variety in 1973.


9. Luganda

Luganda is a Bantu language of the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken by around 16 million first-language speakers in the Buganda region and about 5 million speakers in regions like Mbale, Tororo, Jinja, Gulu, Mbarara, Hoima, and Kesese in Uganda. Luganda is the most widely spoken Ugandan language in Uganda, and it was the official language of instruction in primary schools in Eastern Uganda until the 1960s. Luganda is also the most spoken unofficial language in Kigali city in Rwanda.


10. Ewe

Ewe is an Atlantic-Congo language in the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken by around 20 million people in West Africa mainly in Ghana, Togo, Benin, and some parts of Liberia and southwestern Nigeria. Ewe is a part of the Gbe languages, which are languages that form a cluster of about twenty related languages across the area between eastern Ghana and western Nigeria. The total number of Gbe speakers ranges between four and eight million, and Ewe is the most widely spoken Gbe language, followed by Fon.Ewe has various dialects such as Aŋlɔ, Tɔŋu (Tɔŋgu), Avenor, Agave people, Evedome, Awlan, Gbín, Pekí, Kpándo, Vhlin, Hó, Avɛ́no, Vo, Kpelen, Vɛ́, Danyi, Agu, Fodome, Wancé, Wací, Adángbe (Capo)


11. Zulu

Zulu, also called isiZulu, is a Southern Bantu language of the Nguni branch in the Niger-Congo language family. In 1994, it was made one of South Africa’s 11 official languages. Zulu is the language of the Zulu people, with approximately 12 million native speakers who live in the province of KwaZulu-Natal of South Africa. It is the most widely spoken home language in South Africa, where 24% of the population speaks the language and over 50% of the population understands it. In addition, it is the second most spoken language of the Bantu after Swahili.


12. Bambara

Bambara, also known as Bamana or Bamanankan, belongs to the Mande branch of the Niger-Congo language family. It is a lingua franca and the national language of Mali with 80 percent of the Mali population as first or second-language speakers. Bambara is spoken by around 15 million people, where approximately 5 million are Bambara people, who are an ethnolinguistic group of the upper Niger region of Mali, and the rest are second-language users. The main dialect of Bambara is Standard Bambara and the local dialects include Kaarta, Tambacounda (west); Beledugu, Bananba, Mesekele (north); Jitumu, Jamaladugu, Segu (center); Cakadugu, Keleyadugu, Jalakadougu, Kurulamini, Banimɔncɛ, Cɛmala, Cɛndugu, Baninkɔ, Shɛndugu, Ganadugu (south); Kala, Kuruma, Saro, dialects to the northeast of Mopti (especially Bɔrɛ); Zegedugu, Bɛndugu, Bakɔkan, Jɔnka (southeast).


13. Sotho

Sotho, also known as Sesotho Southern Sotho is a Southern Bantu language of the Sotho Tswana group in the Niger-Congo language family. The Sotho-Tswana group is related to Southern Bantu languages such as Venda, Tsonga, Tonga, and Lozi. Sotho is spoken in Lesotho as the national and official language, in South Africa as one of the 11 official languages, and in Zimbabwe as one of the 16 official languages. It has approximately 4.51 million native speakers, with the highest prevalence in South Africa.


14. Umbundu

Umbundu, also known as South Mbundu, is a Bantu language from the Niger-Congo language family. It is speakers are called Ovimbundu, who are an ethnic group that lives on the Bie Plateau of central Angola and in the coastal strip west of these highlands and consists of a third of Angola’s population. Umbundu is the most widely spoken language of Angola.


15. Shona

Shona is a Bantu language in the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken by around 10.7 million people as a first language and by around 1.8 million people as their second or third language in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, and Zambia. In Zimbabwe, Shona is an official language and about 75% of the population speaks Shona as their mother tongue. In addition, Shona is taught in schools and is used in newspapers and on the radio in Zimbabwe. Shona has three main dialects, which differ in pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. One of the dialects is Karanga. Karanga dialect is spoken by the Karanga people in southern Zimbabwe, near Masvingo, and in the Midlands province. The second dialect is Zezuru, which is spoken by Zezuru people who live in Mashonaland east and central Zimbabwe near Harare. The third dialect is Korekore, which is spoken in northern Zimbabwe, Mvurwi, Bindura, Mount Darwin, Guruve, Chiweshe, and Centenary.


16. Kirundi

Kirundi, also known as Rundi, is a Bantu language from the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken by around 9 million people in Burundi and some parts of Rwanda, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Kenya. Kirundi is the official language of Burundi. It is mutually intelligible with Ha, a language spoken in Western Tanzania, and with Kinyarwanda, an official language in Rwanda.


17. Tigrinya

Tigrinya is a Semitic language in the Afro-Asiatic language family. It has about 7 million speakers around the world and is spoken in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region by the Tigrinya and Tigrayan peoples and by the global diaspora in countries like Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Germany, etc. Tigrinya is the most widely spoken language in Eritrea and the fourth most spoken language in Ethiopia.


18. Kinyarwanda

Kinyarwanda, also known as Ikinyarwanda, is a Bantu language in the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken by around 20 million people, with over 8 million speakers in Rwanda. Kinyarwanda is spoken in Rwanda and parts of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Tanzania. It is mutually intelligible with the Kirundi dialect, which is a national language in Burundi. It is also mutually intelligible with Kinyabwishya and Kinyamulenge spoken in the North Kivu and South Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.


19. Krio

Krio, also known as Sierra Leonean Creole, is an English-based creole language and is native to the Sierra Leone Creole people, who are descendants of freed slaves from the West Indies, Canada, the United States, and the British Empire. Krio is a lingua franca and de facto national language spoken throughout the West African nation of Sierra Leone. It is spoken by 96 percent of Sierra Leone’s population, which makes it the primary language of communication, and unites different ethnic groups in the country in trade and social interactions. Krio is similar to other English-based creole languages spoken in the Americas such as the Gullah language, Jamaican Patois, and Bajan Creole. In addition, it also shares some similarities with no-English creoles like the French-based creole languages in the Caribbean.


20. Tswana

Tswana, also known as Setswana, is a Bantu language from the Niger-Congo family language. It is closely related to the Northern Sotho and Southern Sotho languages, the Kgalagadi language and the Lozi language. Tswana is spoken by around 8.2 million people in Southern Africa and is the official language of Botswana and South Africa. The three South African provinces that have the most Tswana speakers are Gauteng, Nothern Cape, and North West. In addition, a small number of Tswana speakers are also found in Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Availability of African Languages Translation

As of January 2023








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All Lab Goals


Collaborating with African language experts, academics, linguists, native speakers, researchers, librarians, and thinkers, the All Lab seeks to be the leader in Open-Sourced AI architectural design, data collection, and language comprehension for African languages.

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The All Lab Works to make Accurate Information About African Languages Readily Available and Accessible In order to make it easy for All Person Seeking to Work, Localize, or Research In this space.