More than 1,000 different languages
are spoken in Africa. Although most countries in Eastern and Southern Africa have
adopted colonial European languages for official government business, most people
or local languages.
In Namibia, people may speak English, Afrikaans, German, Oshivambo,
Herero, or Nama. In Tanzania, people can speak English or Swahili.
Due to their colonial pasts, the majority of the countries in West
Africa have adopted French, English, Spanish, or Portuguese as national
languages. The majority of each countries' inhabitants, however,
also speak one or more indigenous languages. Cameroonians may speak
one or more of 24 different languages, in addition to French or
Hause, and Igbo are some of the nearly 400 native languages of Nigeria.
Most people in the North African countries speak Arabic and follow Islam.
In some parts of North Africa, however, people are multilingual and speak several
languages. For example, the official languages of Chad and Djibouti are Arabic
In Ethiopia, people may speak one or more of 70 unique languages or 200 different
dialects. A dialect
is a form or variety of a spoken language.
Most people in the fourteen independent countries in North Africa are Muslim.
The religion they believe in is called Islam. Muslims pray to their god Allah
and his prophet Muhammad five times a day facing the city of Mecca. A prophet
is someone who is believed to speak for a god. The Koran
is the Muslim holy book.
In African countries south of the Sahara
Desert, people follow many different religions. Some are Muslim, although the
majority of the people are Christian. Missionaries from other parts of the world
to many countries in Africa. Some people, however, choose to follow ancient religions
and believe that natural spirits and ancestors
affect everyday life.