Zanzibar is an archipelago of two main islands namely Unguja and Pemba that are surrounded by around 50 small islets. In early 8th century, Zanzibar became bases for Arab merchants trading with mainland Africa and Asia.

In the 18th century, Zanzibar was subject to Sultan of Oman and became capital of Oman in 1787.Zanzibar was declared a British protectorate in 1890 and the Sultan was retained for ceremonial purposes. Zanzibar was granted independence in December 1963 and few weeks later, the government was overthrown in 12th January 1964.

Immediately after the revolution, Zanzibar signed a pact with Tanganyika to form The United Republic of Tanzania in 26 April 1964.

Swahili, also known by its native name Kiswahili, is a Bantu language and the native language of the Swahili people ,It is one of two official languages (the other being English) of the  East African Community (EAC) countries, namely Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and the recently added Democratic Republic of Congo.

Swahili is also one of the working language of the African Union and of the  Southern African Development Community. The exact number of Swahili speakers, be they native or second-language speakers, is estimated to be between 50 million to 150 million.

Sixteen to twenty percent of the Swahili vocabulary are Arabic loanwords, including the word swahili, from Arabic sawāḥilī (سَوَاحِلي, a plural adjectival form of an Arabic word meaning ‘of the coast’). The Arabic loanwords date from the contacts of Arabian traders with the Bantu inhabitants of the east coast of Africa over many centuries.

In 2018, South Africa legalized the teaching of Swahili in schools as an optional subject to begin in 2020.  Botswana followed in 2020, and Namibia  plans to introduce the language as well.

Oman Arabic is the source of most Arabic loanwords in Swahili. In the text “Early Swahili History Reconsidered”, however, Thomas Spear noted that Swahili retains a large amount of grammar, vocabulary, and sounds inherited from the Sabaki language. In fact, while taking account of daily vocabulary, using lists of one hundred words, 72–91% were inherited from the Sabaki language (which is reported as a parent language) whereas 4–17% were loan words from other African languages. Only 2–8% were from non-African languages, and Arabic loan words constituted a fraction of that.

According to other sources, around 35% of the Swahili vocabulary comes from Arabic. What also remained unconsidered was that a good number of the borrowed terms had native equivalents. The preferred use of Arabic loan words is prevalent along the coast, where natives, in a cultural show of proximity to, or descent from Arab culture, would rather use loan words, whereas the natives in the interior tend to use the native equivalents. It was originally written in Arabic script.

The earliest known documents written in Swahili are letters written in Kilwa, Tanzania, in 1711 in the Arabic script that were sent to the Portuguese of Mozambique and their local allies. The original letters are preserved in the Historical Archives of Goa, India.

Swahili has become a second language spoken by tens of millions in three African Great Lakes countries ( Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania), where it is an official or national language, while being the first language for many people in Tanzania especially in the coastal regions of Tanga, Pwani, Dar es Salaam, Mtwara and Lindi.

In the inner regions of Tanzania, Swahili is spoken with an accent influenced by local languages and dialects, and as a first language for most people born in the cities, whilst being spoken as a second language in rural areas.

The East African Kiswahili Commission (EAKC) is an institution of the East African Community (EAC) responsible for the coordination and promotion of the development and use of Kiswahili in the region and beyond make Zanzibar as It head quarter of Kiswahili Coordination. Swahili speakers may number 150 to 200 million in total.



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