Malawi has both the official language and the national language where English is the official and Chichewa is the national language. Although the official language is English, the Chichewa language is spoken by more than 50% of the population. Apart from the two, other languages spoken in Malawi are Chinyanja Yao, Chiyao, Tonga, Chitumbuka, Nkhonde, Tumbuka, Lomwe, Lambya, Nyiha, Ndali, Kacchi, Kokola, Zulu, and Afrikaans. English as the official languages is used by many as a second language. Chichewa is spoken mainly in the central and southern regions.

The national language is spoken by 57% of the population, and it is common mostly in the southern and central region of Malawi. Chinyanja is spoken by 12.8% of the population, and Chiyao makes up 10.1% of the population, while 9.5 % Malawians speak Chitumbuka. 10.6% of the population speaks other languages in Malawi, proving that it is a very multilingual country.

Some of the unique and common Chichewa phrases are “zikomo kwambiri” which means thank you very much and “moni” which means hello.

Lomwe is among the minority languages spoken in Malawi, and is most commonly used in the southeastern regions. It has around 850 speakers. Sena is spoken in the south by 270,000 Malawians, while Tonga is spoken by around 170,000 Malawians mainly in Nkhata Bay district. Nyakyusa/Ngonde is spoken in the northern region of Lake Malawi. Some other languages are Nyika, Kokola, Ndali, Lambya, Kacchi, Zulu, and Nyiha.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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