What Is The Most Common Language Spoken In Sahara

nilo saharan
(Last Updated On: November 1, 2023)


The Sahara Desert spans thousands of miles across Africa and the Middle East, with various regional groups and tribes native to the area using different languages and dialects in their day-to-day lives.

How can you tell which language people are speaking if you’ve never been there?

In this article, we look at the most common languages spoken in the Sahara and how you can use them to learn more about the region.


The Arabic language is the one of the most common languages spoken in the Sahara.

It was brought over by colonial Europeans, and has since become the unifying language of the region.

The Arabic word for Sahara means desert in English, which shows how much of a major part this language plays in this vast desert.

There are many other languages spoken in sub-Saharan Africa, but Arabic is one of the most dominant ones because it holds so much power and influence.

language spoken in sahara


Another common language spoken in North Africa and West Africa is Berber. It falls under the larger language group of Nilo-Saharan and has over 20 million speakers.

The Daju Language Group, which includes Berber, has been identified as an ancestral language by UNESCO.

This group of languages is mainly found within Sub-Saharan African countries such as Cape Verde, Niger, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, South Sudan and Mali.

There are many different indigenous languages that fall under this category including Mande languages that come from Upper Guinea like Songhai and Senufo.

list of african languages


Tamashek, also known as Tuareg, Tamajeq and Tamachen, is a language from the Nilo-Saharan family. It is spoken mostly in Mali and Niger.

The number of speakers of Tamashek varies depending on who you ask; estimates range between 1 million and 2 million people who speak it fluently.

Some linguists believe that it could be one of the most spoken African languages if all speakers were counted, but only an estimated 10% of them are fluent speakers.

It is considered one of the national languages in Mali and Niger. It’s part of an African language group called Niger-Congo languages.


French is also spoken in the sahara. It is  the official language of Côte d’Ivoire and Algeria, is a second major language spoken in the Sahara.

There are a number of countries that use this language as their national language, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa (DRC), Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

The people in the Sahara often speak more than one language.  As a result of colonization by France since the late 1800s in many parts of Africa and its former colonies in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands there has been a lot of cultural exchange where new words have been adopted from European languages into French.


The common languages spoken in the sahara are Arabic, with a little French and English thrown in for good measure.

The English spoken in the sahara is a lot different than the typical American or British dialect.

You’ll find that there are many words that are spelled and pronounced differently from what you’re used to.

One of the most difficult aspects of speaking English in the Sahara can be understanding idiomatic expressions and proverbs, as they can vary wildly from region to region.

Often times, you’ll have to ask for clarification about an expression or proverb to understand what it means.

For example, if someone says The lion has left its cave, don’t worry – this doesn’t mean that lions are typically found in caves.

In this case, the person might be talking about a lazy person who has finally decided to get up and start doing something instead of laying around all day.

sub saharan languages
western sahara language

Other  Native Languages Spoken in the Sahara

There are many native languages spoken in the area, and the Nilo-Saharan language family also has a presence there.

The linguistic diversity of the Saharan countries and their close proximity to each other means that it is not uncommon for one person to speak three or four different languages.

The most common native language spoken in the Sahara region is Hausa, which can be found in Nigeria, Niger and Chad.

It’s closely related to Fulani, which can be found throughout West Africa.  Morocco, Tunisia and Libya use Arabic as their official languages but they also have indigenous Berber dialects which are widely used among both rural and urban populations. Are you in search of the best Arabic translator?

The number of languages and dialects spoken in the sahara is staggering. It ranges from the Indo-European language Wolof, which is mainly spoken in Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania; to Darija, which is popular across North Africa including Morocco; to various dialects of Arabic.

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s hard to say which country has the most languages, but one contender might be Côte d’Ivoire.

Tonal languages rely on the tonal qualities of a word to convey meaning. They use different tones to indicate whether they are asking a question, making a statement, or offering an opinion.

One of the most common languages spoken in Africa is French. It’s an official language of 29 African nations and territories. It’s also one of two languages that are used as a working language at the African Union.

French, is one of the easiest African languages to learn in my quarters.

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