What Languages do People Speak in Afghanistan?
Afghanistan is home to more than 35 million people who primarily speak Dari (Farsi or Afghan Persian) and/or Pashto. There are many other minority and immigrant languages spoken in the country, however.
How Many Languages Are Spoken in Afghanistan?
According to one linguist, Afghanistan has 40 minor languages with 200 dialects in addition to the official Pashto and Persian languages. Most non-official languages spoken in Afghanistan are spoken by ethnic groups, including indigenous people of the area.
Official Languages of Afghanistan
Afghanistan has two official and widely spoken languages: Dari, also known as Afghan Persian, and Pashto. Afghan Persian is often called "Persian" or "Farsi" by native speakers but the name was changed to Dari in the 1960s. Both languages are Indo-European languages in the Iranian family.
The Dari language is the lingua franca of Afghanistan and the native tongue for many ethnic groups like the Aimaks, Hazaras, and Tajiks. The Pashto language is the native language of the Pashtuns, Afghanistan's dominant ethnic group. Multilingualism is very common in the country.
About 77% of people in Afghanistan speak Dari and 48% speak Pashto.
Other Languages of Afghanistan
There are dozens of languages spoken in Afghanistan aside from Pashto and Dari.
Several Indo-Iranian languages are spoken aside from Pashto and Dari such as: -- Uzbek: a Turkish language and official language of Uzbekistan. Up to 3.4 million people in Afghanistan speak Uzbek or 11% of the population. -- Turkmen: the official language of Turkmenistan and the language of the Turkmen people. About 1.5 million people (3%) in northwest Afghanistan speak Turkmen. -- Balochi: spoken by the Baloch people of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. -- Nuristani: a group of languages spoken by 130,000 people in eastern Afghanistan -- Pashayi: a group of languages spoken by 400,000 Pashai people of northeastern Afghanistan.
Other minority languages of Afghanistan include: -- Ashkunu: Spoken by 40,000 Ashkun people from the Pech Valley and some areas of Nuristan Province. -- Kamkata-viri: Spoken by up to 60,000 people in various tribes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. -- Vasi-vari: Spoken by about 8,000 people in the Prasun Valley. -- Kalasha-ala: Also called Waigali, this language is spoken by 10,000 Kalasha people in Afghanistan's Waigal Valley. -- Tregami: Spoken by 3,500 people in the Nuristan Province. -- Pamiri: A group Eastern Iranian languages spoken in the Badakhshan Province in northeastern Afghanistan. -- Arabic: An Arabic dialect spoken in parts of Afghanistan called Central Asian Arabic is nearly extinct. -- Brahui: A Dravidian language of the Brahui people spoken mostly in Pakistan but also parts of Afghanistan. -- Aimaq -- Qizilbash -- Kyrgyz: A Turkish language spoken by 4 million people, mostly in Kyrgyzstan -- Hindi-Urdu: A native language of Pakistan and India. This language is spoken and understood by a large number of people in Afghanistan, especially the Kabul area, due to the popularity of Bollywood movies. -- Punjabi: Native language of the Punjabi people of India and Pakistan. About 6% of people in Afghanistan can speak English. That makes it the 4th most commonly spoken language after Dari, Pashto, and Uzbek.