Society

What Languages are Spoken in Djibouti?

In the multilingual nation of Djibouti, Somali, Arabic, French, and Afar are the most commonly spoken languages.

Djibouti, an African nation located in the Horn of Africa, is a multi-ethnic nation with a diverse linguistic landscape. The population of the country is more than 846,687. The Afar people and the Somali Issa are the two biggest ethnic groups inhabiting Djibouti. In the multilingual nation of Djibouti, Somali and Afar are the two languages spoken by the majority of the country’s local residents. Arabic and French are the two official languages of the country.

Official Languages of Djibouti

Arabic

An Afroasiatic language, Arabic is one of the two official languages of Djibouti, the other being French. The language holds religious, cultural, and social importance in the country. The Ta'izzi-Adeni Arabic dialect is a local dialect of Arabic that is spoken by about 59,000 Djiboutians.

French

French, an Indo-European language, and a legacy of the colonial past of Djibouti, is also another official language of Djibouti. The language is spoken by about 17,000 individuals in the country as a first language. French, also regarded as a statutory national language, serves as the primary language of instruction in the schools and colleges of Djibouti.

Other Popular Languages of Djibouti

Somali

The Afroasiatic language of the Cushitic branch, Somali is spoken as the first language by the Somali people of Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti, and parts of Ethiopia. In Djibouti, Somali has the status of an indigenous language. The language is officially written using the Latin script. There are about 524,000 Somali speakers in Djibouti. Nearly 60% of the population of the country can speak in Somali.

Djibouti’s Regional Somali Language Academy regulates the Somali language in Djibouti. The institute was established as a joint venture by Somalia, Djibouti, and Ethiopia aims to preserve the Somali language.

Afar

The Afroasiatic language of Afar is spoken by the Afar people living in the African countries of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti. There is a total of about 1,379,200 Afar speakers of which 306,000 speakers live in Djibouti. It is also one of the country’s indigenous languages and is the language used in broadcasting the programs of the Radio Television of Djibouti (RTD), the country's national broadcaster.

Immigrant Language Spoken in Djibouti

Several languages are spoken by the immigrants living in Djibouti. Omani Arabic, an Arabic dialect spoken in Oman’s Al Hajar mountains, is the most popular immigrant language spoken in Djibouti. Around 38,900 people speak the language in Djibouti. Other immigrant languages spoken here include Amharic, Greek, and Hindi, which are spoken by about 1,400, 1,000, and 600 speakers, respectively.

The Writing System in Djibouti

The Latin script is the most widely used writing script used in Djibouti. The Somali language is written using a modified form of the Latin script. Similarly, Qafar Feera, a modified form of the Latin script, is used to write the Afar language.

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