Where is the Xhosa Language Spoken?

An Xhosa village in South Africa.
An Xhosa village in South Africa.

The Xhosa language is one of the official languages of South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is a Nguni Bantu language known for its click consonants. Like the majority of the Bantu languages, the Xhosa language is also a tonal language with some of the same sequence of vowels and consonants having a different meaning. The language has two tones and is written with Latin alphabet. The tone can either be high or low but cannot be indicated in writing. Xhosa is spoken as a first language by over 8 million people and spoken either as the first or alternative language by over 19 million people around the world. Below are the two countries where Xhosa is popularly spoken.

Countries With The Most Xhosa Speakers

South Africa

Xhosa is one of the 11 official languages of South Africa. It is spoken as a first language by approximately 8.2 million people in the country, the majority of which are the Xhosa people. South Africa is known to be the native land of the Xhosa people. The Xhosa language is distinguished from other Nguni Bantu languages by the clicking sound formed by the tongue and represented by letters c, x, and q. It is the most widely distributed language in South Africa and the second-most widely spoken language in the country. The majority of the Xhosa speakers also speak Zulu, English, or Afrikaans. Eastern Cape has the highest number of Xhosa speakers at approximately 5 million people followed by Western Cape with over 1.4 million speakers. Other regions with over 200,000 Xhosa speakers include KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, and Northern Cape. Xhosa is the main language of instruction in some primary and secondary schools and also studied as a subject in some schools and universities.


The Xhosa language is one of the 16 official languages of Zimbabwe. It is spoken as the first language by approximately 200,000 people in the country or about 1% of the total population. The majority of Xhosa speakers are mainly found in northwest Zimbabwe. These Xhosa people migrated from the Cape Province in South Africa and settled in the Mbembesi area more than 100 years ago. The former national anthem of Zimbabwe known as "Ishe Komborera Africa" was based on Xhosa Methodist hymn.

Xhosa Phonology

The Xhosa language has ten vowels written as a, e, I, o, and u and each occurring in both short and long. Being a tonal language, Xhosa has low and high tones. However, the tones are rarely marked in written language but may be indicated as a [à] or á [á]. The language also has several other unique consonants including 18 clicks. The first six clicks are dental clicks represented by “C.” The clicks are produced by the putting the tongue at the back of the teeth. The next six clicks are lateral clicks represented by “X” made by placing the tongue on the side of the mouth. The last six clicks are referred to as alveolar clicks and are represented by “Q.” They are made by placing the tip of the tongue at the roof of the mouth and sounds like a cork pulled from a bottle.

Where is the Xhosa Language Spoken?

RankCountries Where Xhosa Is Spoken
1South Africa

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