SiSwati : Statistics SA and

Statistics SA and offer great insights into the demographics, and specifically, language usage within South Africa. We’ll be posting some of their interesting statistics that came to light during the Census 2011.

SiSwati is one of South Africa’s minority languages, spoken by only 2.5% of South Africans, or just under 1.3-million people. It is the language of the Swazi nation, spoken mainly in eastern Mpumalanga, an area that borders the Kingdom of Swaziland.

The Swazi people originated from the Pongola river valley in KwaZulu-Natal, migrating from there to Swaziland. Their country was under British control from 1903 to 1968.

The vast majority (85%) of SiSwati speakers live in Mpumalanga, where they are the majority linguistic group, making up 27.4% of the provincial population. Just over 10% of SiSwati speakers are found in Gauteng, where they make up only 1.1% of the population.

SiSwati is one of South Africa’s four Nguni languages, and is closely related to isiZulu. But much has been done in the last few decades to enforce the differences between the languages for the purpose of standardising SiSwati.

  • Home language to: 2.5% of the population (1 297 046 people)
  • Linguistic lineage: Niger-Congo > Atlantic-Congo > Volta- Congo > Benue-Congo > Bantoid > Southern > Narrow Bantu > Central > S group > Nguni > siSwati
  • Alternate and historical names: Swazi, isiSwazi, Swati, Tekela, Tekeza
  • Dialects: Baca, Hlubi, Phuthi

Read more about some of our other official languages:

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