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People and Society, Ethnicity and Language

Iteso, Kiga, Bantu languages, Langi, Acholi

As a result of migration and intermarriage, most Ugandans have ancestors from a variety of Uganda’s 34 ethnic groups, although people customarily identify with just a single group. In centuries past ancestors of many of these groups came to Uganda from what is now Sudan and Ethiopia. Many of the languages presently used are not mutually intelligible. About two-thirds speak Bantu languages and live in the south, including the largest and wealthiest ethnic group, the Ganda, constituting 18.0 percent of the population, and the Nyankole (9.9 percent), Kiga (8.3 percent), and Soga (8.2 percent). About one-sixth of Uganda’s people are Western Nilotic speakers living in the north, such as the Langi (5.9 percent) and Acholi (4.4 percent). Another one-sixth speak an Eastern Nilotic language and live in the northeast, including the Iteso (6.0 percent) and Karimojong (2.1 percent). Finally, in the extreme northwest are speakers of Sudanic languages, including the Lugbara (3.5 percent) and the Madi (1.1 percent). English is the official language of Uganda, though Swahili is more widely spoken and used as a lingua franca (a language used in common by different peoples to facilitate commerce and trade). Luganda, the language of the Ganda, is the most frequently used indigenous tongue. There is some tension among ethnic groups, particularly between the Ganda and others.

Article key phrases:

Iteso, Kiga, Bantu languages, Langi, Acholi, lingua franca, Luganda, intermarriage, Ugandans, Soga, Madi, Swahili, Ethiopia, ancestors, centuries, northeast, thirds, tension, ethnic groups, single group, commerce, percent, trade, population, south, English


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