Languages of Namibia

The many languages of Namibia

Namibia is a diverse country with many different languages on offer, and it will all depend on the region you visit as to which you will hear the most!

During Apartheid Afrikaans, German and English were the official languages of Namibia.

As the country gained its own independence, efforts were made in the newly constructed constitution to make English the only official language of the country, to steer away from the colonial struggles of power from the German control prior to World War 1 and the South African control that ended in 1988.

Despite English being the official language, only 7% of Namibians actually speak it as mother language, Afrikaans is spoken by 60%, German by 32%, Portuguese by 1% - an astonishing statistic!

The most widely spoken language in the country with 48% of the country speaking it is the Oshiwambo dialects. Behind the Oshiwambo is the Khoekhoe language and Afrikaans with 11% and Kwangali and Herero with 10%.

Several other native languages which are commonly spoken throughout the country include Tswana, Few, Kuhane, Gciriku, Yeyi and Mbukushu as well as the Kohisan dialects of Kung-Ekoka, Kxoe and Naro to name a few.

German is spoken widely through the white population of Namibia with approximately 32% speaking it, although the majority of whites still speak Afrikaans with 60% speaking it at the last census.

Throughout primary schools in the country there are several indigenous languages which are spoken, however at high school teaching is in English.