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Languages Of Angola

Ethnic groups and national languages

Portuguese is the official language of Angola, but the country has about 200 national languages, six of which are the major ones, namely: Kikongo, Kimbundu, Tchokwe, Umbundo, Mbunda e Kwanyama or Oxikwanyama.

The vast majority of Angolans, close to 90%, are of Bantu origin. The main Bantu ethnic group is the Ovimbundo, who are concentrated in the south central part of Angola and traditionally speak Umbundo, the national language with the highest number of speakers in Angola.

The Ambundos speak Kimbundu, which is the national language with the second highest number of speakers, located mainly in the centre and north of the country, in the Luanda-Malanje axis and in Kwanza-Sul. The Kimbundu is a language of great importance, because it is the traditional language of the capital and of the ancient kingdom of the N'gola. It bequeathed many words to the Portuguese language and also assimilated many from it, too.

In the north (Cabinda, Uíge and Zaire) there are concentrations of Bakongo people, who speak Kikongo, a language with various dialects. It was the language of the former Kingdom of the Congo.

The Tchokwe inhabit the
east, from Lunda Norte to Moxico, and speak Tchokwe, a language that has dominated over other languages in the eastern part of the country.

Kwanyama or Oxikwanyama, Nyaneka and Mbunda are other Bantu languages spoken in Angola.

The south of Angola is also inhabited by Boshmen non-Bantu peoples who speak languages of the Khoisan ethnic group.

Approximately 3% of the current population is white (mainly of Portuguese origin) or of mixed race.  These people are mostly concentrated in the cities and their mother tongue is Portuguese.  There is also a considerable number of speakers of French and Lingala, whose presence in Angola may be the result of migrations which occurred during the liberation struggle period and the close relations maintained with neighbouring countries, namely the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.