The official languages of Tanzania are Swahili (which is also known as Kiswahili) and English. There is a growing tendency for younger people to speak Swahili as their first language. Although Swahili is a Bantu language, its vocabulary is drawn from many other languages, including Arabic and English. The form of Swahili spoken in Zanzibar is called Kiunguja. It is considered one of the purest forms of Swahili in the world. More than 100 other African languages are spoken in Tanzania. They belong to four language groups: Bantu, Nilo-Hamitic, Nilotic and Khoisan. 
Although English is an official language, it is spoken only by highly educated people or those who work in the tourism industry. The Asian community in Tanzania speaks Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu in addition to English and Swahili.

 Greetings are important, because they show politeness and respect. The type of greeting offered depends on the person's status and age. A common Swahili greeting among friends is "Hujambo, habari gani" (How are you? What is your news?). Greetings may vary according to the time of the day or the length of time since the last meeting. "Shikamoo" is used to greet respected persons. Young children are taught to greet older people by kissing their hands or kneeling down. Friends who meet after a long time may shake hands and kiss each other on both cheeks.

 Women gather to talk at the homes of their friends and relatives, while men usually meet friends in public places. Visiting is an important custom. Women often go visiting or receive visitors in the afternoons. Hospitality is prized in Tanzania, and friends or relatives who arrive from distant places are asked to stay overnight.

  Did you know?
Tanzanians have a special way of measuring time. Sunrise, when the day begins, is considered 1 a.m., Tanzanian time.

In Tanzania, as in many regions of Africa, the right hand is thought to be "clean" and the left hand "unclean." Therefore, people use the right hand to eat or to give or receive gifts. The polite way to accept a gift is to place the left palm under the right palm, so that the right hand touches the gift first.
  Did you know?
The name of Tanzania's largest city, Dar es Salaam, comes from the Swahili phrase, Bandari Ya Salama, which means Haven of Peace.
  English   Swahili
  Yes   Ndiyo
  No   Hapana
  Please   Tafadhali
  Thank you   Ahsante
  Hi (among friends)   Habari
  Goodbye   Kwaheri
  Welcome    Karibu
  Excuse me   Samahani