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Waswahili
165 × 220
Total population
1,328,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, Comoros
Languages

Swahili, Portuguese, English, French

Religion

Islam, traditional beliefs

Related ethnic groups

Mijikenda, Makonde people, Shirazi[2]

 person  Mswahili
 people  Waswahili
 language  Kiswahili
 country  Uswahili

The Swahili are a people found on the coast of East Africa, mainly the coastal regions and the islands of Kenya and Tanzania, and north Mozambique. The name Swahili is derived from the Arabic word Sawahil, meaning "coastal dwellers".

Contents

Definition

The Swahili are unique Bantu inhabitants of the East African Coast mainly from Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique. They are mainly united by culture and under the mother tongue of Kiswahili, a Bantu language.[3] This also extends to Arab, Persian, and other migrants who reached the coast some believe as early as the 7th-8th c. CE, and mixed with the local people there, providing considerable cultural infusion and numerous loan words from Arabic and Persian.[4] Archaeologist, Felix Chami notes the presence of Bantu settlements straddling the East African coast as early as the beginning of the 1st millennium. They evolved gradually from the 6th century onward to accommodate for an increase in trade (mainly with Arab merchants), population growth, and further centralized urbanization; developing into what would later become known as the Swahili City-States.[5]

Language

Around 90 million people speak the Swahili language. Tanzania's official language is Swahili. Thus those who live in this country need not learn an additional language. However, those who live elsewhere in East Africa also speak the official languages of their respective countries: English in Kenya, Portuguese in Mozambique, and French in Comoros. Note that only a small fraction of those who use Swahili are first language speakers and even fewer are ethnic Swahilis. This point is often obscured by the Swahili linguistic tradition in which those who speak the language are often called Swahili (Waswahili) regardless of their actual ethnic origins. In other words, the term 'Swahili' can mean 'those who speak Swahili' or it can mean 'ethnic Swahili people'.

Religion

Islam established its presence in the East African coast from around 1012 AD, when the traders from the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula continued to journey to these parts during monsoon seasons and to interact with the local people through trade, intermarriage, and an exchange of ideas. Because of this interaction, most of the Swahili today are Muslim. The unifying force of Islam consolidated into an amalgam of otherwise different ethnicities and provided an enduring common identity for many of the people in coastal East Africa. The Swahili follow a very strict and orthodox form of Islam.

Economy

For centuries the Swahili depended greatly on trade from the Indian Ocean. The Swahili have played a vital role as middle man between east, central and south Africa, and the outside world. Trade contacts have been noted as early as 100 A.D. by early Roman writers who visited the East African coast in the first century. Trade routes extended across Tanzania into modern day Democratic Republic of the Congo, along which goods were brought to the coasts and were sold to Arab, Indian, and Portuguese traders and even reached as far as China[6] and India[7]. Materials attributed to this network of trade were also found at Great Zimbabwe. During the apogee of the middle ages, ivory and slaves became a substantial source of revenue. Many slaves sold in Zanzibar ended up in Brazil, which was then a Portuguese colony. Swahili fishermen of today still rely on the ocean to supply their primary source of income. Fish is sold to their inland neighbors in exchange for products of the interior.

See also

References

  1. ^ Swahili people listing - JoshuaProject, Retrieved on 2007-08-28
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Swahili People
  4. ^ Gilbert. Coastal East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean
  5. ^ African Archaeological Review, Volume 15, Number 3, September 1998 , pp. 199-218(20)
  6. ^ Swahili Sailors in Early China
  7. ^ The Story of Africa - BBC

External links

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Simple English


Waswahili
[[File:|165 × 220]]
Total population

1,328,000

Regions with significant populations
Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, Comoros
Languages

Swahili, Portuguese, English, French

Religions

Islam, traditional beliefs

Related ethnic groups

Mijikenda, Makonde people, Shirazi[1]

The Swahili are a people and culture found on the coast of East Africa, mainly the coastal regions and the islands of Kenya and Tanzania, and north Mozambique. The Swahili number is at around 1,328,000.[2] The number of Swahili speakers, on the other hand, numbers at around 90 million people. The name Swahili comes from the Arabic word Sawahil and means "coastal dwellers". Swahili is official language only in Tanzania. Swahili speakers who live elsewhere in East Africa also have to use the official languages of their respective countries: English in Kenya, Portuguese in Mozambique, and French in Comoros. Only a small part of those who use Swahili are first language speakers and even fewer are ethnic Swahilis. This point is often obscured by the Swahili linguistic tradition in which those who speak the language are often called Swahili (Waswahili) regardless of their actual ethnic origins. In other words, the term 'Swahili' can mean 'those who speak Swahili' or it can mean 'ethnic Swahili people'.

Contents

Definition

The Swahili are unique Bantu inhabitants of the East African Coast mainly from Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique. They are mainly united by culture and under the mother tongue of Kiswahili, a Bantu language.[3] There are Arab, Persian, and other migrants who reached the coast some believe as early as the 7th-8th c. CE, and mixed with the local people there, that are regarded as Swahili now. Because of this influence the Swahili language contains many loan words from Arabic and Persian.[4] Archaeologist, Felix Chami thinks that Bantu settlements at the East African coast existed already at the beginning of the 1st millennium. From the 6th century onward they became more important as there was an increase in trade (mainly with Arab merchants), population growth, and further centralized urbanization. So the Swahili City-States[5] developed.

Religion

Islam came to the East African coast around 1012 AD, when the traders from the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula continued to journey to these parts during monsoon seasons and to have contact with the local people through trade, marriage, and an exchange of ideas. Because of this interaction, most of the Swahili today are Muslim. The Swahili follow a very strict and orthodox form of Islam.

Economy

For centuries the Swahili depended greatly on trade from the Indian Ocean. The Swahili have played a vital role as middle man between east, central and South Africa, and the outside world. Trade contacts have been noted as early as 100 A.D. by early Roman writers who visited the East African coast in the first century. Trade routes extended across Tanzania into modern day Zaire. Along these goods were brought to the coasts and were sold to Arab, Indian, and Portuguese traders and even reached as far as China[6] and India[7]. Materials of this trade were also found at Great Zimbabwe. During the middle ages, ivory and slaves became a substantial source of income. Many slaves who were sold in Zanzibar ended up in Brazil, which was then a Portuguese colony. Swahili fishermen of today still rely on the ocean to supply their primary source of income. Fish is sold to their inland neighbors in exchange for products of the interior.

Other pages

References

  1. East Africa Living Encyclopedia
  2. Swahili people listing - JoshuaProject, Retrieved on 2007-08-28
  3. Swahili People
  4. Gilbert. Coastal East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean
  5. African Archaeological Review, Volume 15, Number 3, September 1998 , pp. 199-218(20)
  6. Swahili Sailors in Early China
  7. The Story of Africa - BBC

Other websites


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