Portuguese is the official and most commonly spoken language in the country, with 50.3 percent of the people speaking it. The majority of Mozambicans who live in cities speak Portuguese as their first language.
Mozambique’s indigenous Bantu-group languages vary considerably in their groups and, in some instances, are underappreciated and underdocumented. Apart from its usage as a lingua franca in the north, Swahili is spoken in a small region of the coast along the Tanzanian border; south of this, towards Moçambique Island, Kimwani, considered as a dialect of Swahili, is spoken. Makonde is used just inland of the Swahili region, separated from an area where Yao or ChiYao is spoken by a short strip of Makhuwa-speaking territory. Makonde and Yao are from distinct groups, with Yao being extremely similar to the Mwera language of Tanzania’s Rondo Plateau.
Prepositions occur as locative prefixes affixed to nouns and declined according to their own noun-class in these languages. Some Nyanja is used on Lake Malawi’s shore as well as on the opposite side of the lake.
The languages of the eMakhuwa group vary from all of these in that they lack the beginning k-, which means that many nouns begin with a vowel: for example, epula = “rain.”
There is eMakhuwa proper, as well as the associated eLomwe and eChuwabo, as well as a tiny eKoti-speaking region on the shore. Sena, a language related to Nyanja, is spoken in a region spanning the lower Zambezi, with CiNyungwe and CiSenga spoken farther upriver.
Between the Zimbabwean border and the sea, there is a significant Shona-speaking region that was formerly known as the Ndau variety but now follows the spelling of the Standard Shona of Zimbabwe. CiBalke, also known as Rue or Barwe and spoken in a tiny nation near the Zimbabwe border, seems to be close to Shona but lacks the tone patterns of Shona and is considered as distinct by its speakers.
Languages of the Shangaan group are spoken south of this region, and they are very distinct. XiTswa or Tswa is found on the coast and inland, whereas XiTsonga or Tsonga is found near the Limpopo River and includes dialects such as XiChangana. This linguistic region includes neighboring South Africa. GiTonga and CiCopi or Chopi are spoken north of the Limpopo River’s mouth, while XiRonga or Ronga is spoken in the local vicinity of Maputo. The languages in this category are extremely vaguely related to Zulu, judged by their small vocabulary, although they are clearly not in the same local group. In Mozambique, there are tiny Swazi and Zulu-speaking communities along the Swaziland and KwaZulu-Natal borders.
Arabs, Chinese, and Indians mainly speak Portuguese, with some Hindi thrown in for good measure. Apart from Portuguese as a second language, Indians from Portuguese India speak any of the Portuguese Creoles of their heritage.