Africa’s Guinness World Records #5

World’s most official languages (country)

Learning a new language is always a challenge. However, the easiest way to pick up a new language is by growing up in an environment where you can directly pick-up the second language, or to get taught the new language at school. Now, imagine living in a country with 16 official languages, all spoken in the area you would live. Residents of Zimbabwe are especially fortunate in this regard as they are recorded for having the “world’s most official languages (country)”.

Zimbabwe is located in Southern Africa and is known for its extreme landscapes and diverse wildlife. One of its greatest highlights is the majestic Victoria Falls that flows into the Zambezi River.  The waterfall is surrounded by phenomenal National Parks, where the big five can be found. However, the country is not only good at providing breathtaking scenery and lush landscapes, there is also an overload of culture. With improvement by the Parliament on the 9th of may, 2003, Zimbabwe received its Guinness World Record.  In total, there are 16 languages divided over the country including: Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda, and Xhosa.

The majority of Zimbabwe speaks Shona as their first language. It is a Bantu language and native to the Shona people of Zimbabwe. An interesting fact is that the language has not existed for too long yet as it was established in the early 20th century.  Shona is a written standard language and taught in most of the schools, especially in the region around Great Zimbabwe where it is spoken the most. Zimbabwe is not the only country where Shona is spoken, you will also find people speaking Shona when visiting the bordering countries of Botswana and Mozambique.

Next to Shona, many people speak Ndebele. The language is mostly spoken among the Matabele people of Zimbabwe, and is closely related to the Zulu language spoken in South Africa. Even though the Ndebele and Shona are both belonging to the Bantu languages, there is still a big difference between the two languages.

You don’t have to be afraid of struggling to travel around Zimbabwe, since most signs and instructions are communicated in English. Next to Shona and Ndebele, English is the most spoken language between the different provinces and used as the official business language. If you are interested to visit Zimbabwe, these words might help you to communicate with the locals. 

                                  Shona                       Ndebele

Hello                          Mhoro                       Salibonani

Good morning          Mangwanani             Livukile

Good afternoon        Masikati                    Litshonile

Good evening           Manheru                   Litshonile

Good night                Urare zvakanaka      Lilale kuhle

Goodbye                   Sara Zvakanaka        Lisale kuhle

Curious of the different languages and cultures that Zimbabwe has to offer?

Join us on one of our tours!   

Your tour ending in Victoria Falls? Why not extend your holiday and join us on this brand new adventure through Zimbabwe rediscovering its natural and ancient mysteries.

  • Duration
    5 Days
  • From
      Camping R7,650 NZZ
      Accommodated R9,650 NAZZ

Thundering waterfalls, wildlife rich safari destinations, ancient ruins, unique rock formations, tropical islands and spectacular scenery make this tour an unforgettable adventure.

  • Duration
    19 Days
  • From
      Camping R22,100 NZJM
      Accommodated R27,900 NAZJM

Combining two of Southern Africa’s greatest wildlife areas, this tour will take you from the thunderous Victoria Falls to the Big 5 game area, Kruger National Park.

  • Duration
    9 Days
  • From
      Camping R13,600 NZJJ
      Accommodated R17,300 NAZJJ

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