Languages of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Languages Of The Democratic Republic Of The Congo

Languages of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a multilingual country where an estimated total of 242 languages are spoken ( lists 214 living languages). The official language, inherited from the colonial period, is French. Four indigenous languages have the status of national language: Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili and Tshiluba.

When the country was a Belgian colony, it had already instituted teaching and use of the four national languages in primary schools, making it one of the few African nations to have had literacy in local languages during the European colonial period. During the colonial period both Dutch and French were the official languages but French was by far the most important.


French is the official language of the country since its colonial period under Belgian rule. Therefore, the variety of French used in the DRC has many similarities with Belgian French. The colonial language has been kept as the official language since the time of independence because it is widely spoken around the educated groups in the country, it is ethnically neutral, and eases communication between all the different ethnic groups of the Congo as well as with the rest of the Francophonie. According to the OIF, 6,080,000 or 10% of the population were real French speakers in 2005 whereas another 18,240,000 or 30,0% were partially French speaking. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is currently the most populous French-speaking country.

See also: French in Africa


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