The Lusophone Countries of Africa

The lusophone countries of Africa-Johannesburg-pretoria-durban-capetown-2024-pretoria-sandton-capetown-durban

The term “Lusophone” refers to places where Portuguese is the main language or has a significant influence on the culture and language. In Africa, it indicates countries where Portuguese is spoken due to their historical connection with Portugal. So, when we mention the “Lusophone countries of Africa,” we mean those African countries where Portuguese is spoken or has a significant impact on their cultures, identities, and histories.

The Portuguese settled in Africa in the early 16th century, leading to the creation of African Portuguese-speaking countries. Portuguese is a Romance language spoken in Brazil, Portugal, and other places that were colonized by Portugal. Standard Portuguese developed from the dialects spoken from Lisbon to Coimbra.

Africa, being the second-largest continent after Asia, gave the Portuguese Empire plenty of land to spread its language, culture, and influence. Lusophone Africa consists of six African countries: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Equatorial Guinea. These countries were once colonies of the Portuguese Empire.

Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa:

  1. Angola

The lusophone countries of Africa-pretoria-johannesburg-capetown-durban -anAngola is situated on the western Atlantic coast of southern Africa. Angola is the country with the second-highest number of Portuguese speakers. Portuguese is the main language spoken there, and it’s also the official language. Approximately 71% of Angolans speak Portuguese, with 39% considering it their first language. In urban areas like Luanda, Portuguese is widely spoken. The language that is spoken in this country is called Angolan Portuguese.

  1. Mozambique

The lusophone countries of Africa-Randburg-pretoria-durban-capetownThe Republic of Mozambique is a country in Southeast Africa. It’s bordered by several countries and the Indian Ocean. Mozambique has a population of approximately 35 million, and its official language is Portuguese, but only about half of the population speaks it. Portuguese acts as a common language for everyone to communicate with, no matter their background. There are approximately 99% of Mozambicans that originate from indigenous tribes like Tonga, Makua, Manyika, Sau, and Chokwe. Portugal’s history with Mozambique led to Portuguese becoming the main language there. After gaining independence following the Mozambican War of Independence.

  1. Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau is a West African country on the Atlantic coast. The Portuguese Empire established Portuguese Guinea in 1474. Once part of the Kaabu kingdom and the Mali Empire, Guinea-Bissau later came under Portuguese rule in the 16th century. Portuguese is the official language, mainly spoken by the educated and elite. Many people learn it as a second language for important matters like legislation, media, and education. However, 44% of the population speaks Kiriol or Crioulo as a lingua franca, serving as a common language for communication among all ethnic groups.

  1. Cape Verde

Cape Verde, also known as Cabo Verde, is an island nation off the coast of West Africa made up of 10 volcanic islands. It is one of the Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa because it used to be a Portuguese colony. Portuguese is the official language used in education, business, media, and government. The culture of Cape Verde is a mix of African and Portuguese influences. While Portuguese is the formal language, Crioulo is the most commonly spoken language.

  1. São Tomé and Príncipe

The lusophone countries of Africa-Durban-pretoria-midrand-capetownThe Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe is an island country located on the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. It consists of two islands, São Tomé and Príncipe.  After a peaceful independence from Portugal in 1975, São Tomé and Principe continued to use Portuguese as the official language. The majority of citizens speak Portuguese as their native language, along with several Portuguese-based Creoles such as Forro, Cape Verdean Creole, Angolar, Saotomense, and Principense. French and English are the top foreign languages that are taught in school.

  1. Equatorial Guinea

The lusophone countries of Africa-southafrica-pretoria-johannesburg-capetown-durbanFormerly known as Spanish Guinea, it is situated on the west coast of Central Africa. Unlike other countries on this list, Spain ruled this territory for most of the colonial period after receiving the territory in the Treaty of El Pardo in 1778. Spanish, French, and Portuguese are all official languages.  Spanish is the most widely spoken language, used in schools. Annobón and Bioko are two small island territories that speak a Creole Portuguese language called Annobonese, which originated from the mixing of European men and African slaves from São Tomé and Príncipe and Angola.

Portuguese spoken in Africa is closely related to European Portuguese

Because of Portugal’s long rule over its African colonies, most former Portuguese colonies still use European Portuguese as their official language.  Today, Portuguese is a post-colonial language in Africa and one of the working languages of the African Union.  It is a language of written and broadcast journalism.  European Portuguese is the prestige standard for African Lusophones. However, just as there are small but distinct differences between British and American English, there are quite a few differences between African and European Portuguese dialects. Fortunately, these differences can be overcome and made meaningful, meaning that your understanding of Portuguese can take you and your business to Africa… and beyond!

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The Lusophone Countries of Africa
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The Lusophone Countries of Africa
Discover the Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa, where the term "Lusophone" signifies Portuguese as a dominant language or a significant cultural influence. SpeakPortuguese specialises in accurate Portuguese-to-English translation and interpreting services, trusted for quality, reliability, and competitive pricing across diverse sectors. With us, unlock global opportunities seamlessly.
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