Eritrea is a nation that speaks a variety of languages. The Constitution guarantees “equality of all Eritrean languages,” thus the country has no official language. Tigrinya has taken on the role of de facto national language. It is the most commonly spoken language in Eritrea, with 2,540,000 total speakers out of a population of 5,254,000 in 2006. It is especially prevalent in the southern and central regions of the country. Afar, Arabic, Beja, Bilen, Kunama, Nara, Saho, and Tigre are some of the other main national languages. Tigrinya is utilized as a de facto working language alongside Modern Standard Arabic and English, with the latter being used in university education and many technical areas. Italian, the old colonial language, is still taught in elementary and secondary schools and is spoken by a few monolinguals.
The majority of Eritrea’s languages are members of the Ethiopian Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic family. Cushitic languages and other Afroasiatic languages are also extensively spoken in the nation. Afar, Beja, Blin, and Saho are among the latter. Other Afroasiatic languages, such as the recently recognized Dahlik and Arabic, are spoken by smaller populations (the Hejazi and Hadhrami dialects spoken by the Rashaida and Hadhrami, respectively).
Furthermore, the Nilotic Kunama and Nara ethnic minority groups that reside in the northern and northwestern parts of the nation speak Nilo-Saharan languages (Kunama and Nara) as their native languages.