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- Alternate names & spellings: Chewa, Nyanja,or Chinyanja.
- Language ISO code: ny/nya
- Number of speakers: approximately spoken by 9 million speakers.
- Writing system: Latin script. The orthography was standardized with the publication of New Chichewa Orthography Rules (1973).
- Spoken in: Mainly in Malawi, but also in Zambia (Eastern Province), Mozambique, Zimbabwe.
Chichewa (meaning the language of Chewa people) or Chewa if abbreviated is a Bantu language widely spoken in eastern, central and southern Africa. It is the most spoken language in Malawi, where most than half of the population have a good command of the language and the third spoken language in Zimbabwe, being most of its speakers concentrated in the Tete and Niassa Provinces. With regard to Zambia, most of its speakers live in Eastern province, although it is believed that around 40% of its population can understand the Chichewa language.
The history of the Chichewa speakers (a-Chewa) dates back to 15th century, where a group of a-Chewa moved from the Congo to the Lake Malawi region. The first president of Malawi chose Malawi as the national language and English as the official language in 1968 with the intention of unifying the country, which has allowed that there is a strong Chewa influence on the nowadays Malawian culture. After the end of his mandate, the country has been promoting different policies to encourage the use of all different local languages, nevertheless, today Chichewa is still the most widely spoken language in Malawi thanks to the significant active role that the government has played in order to promote the language through research and cultural programs.
- Chewa dialect
- Manganja dialect
- Peta dialect
- Tumbuka dialect
- Ngoni dialect