Portuguese in Africa

Written by Isabel Harmse

Portuguese in Africa and around the world

With reference to World Portuguese Language Day, which was celebrated globally on Friday, 5 May, our focus falls on usage of Portuguese in Africa. Portuguese is not only one of the most widespread languages in the world (considering more than 265 million people across all continents speak Portuguese), but it is also the most widely spoken language in the southern hemisphere. Surprising, isn’t it?


Portuguese is the official language in six African countries, namely Angola, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe. Countries in Southern Africa are home to several Portuguese-speaking communities due to a mixture of Portuguese settlers and Angolans and Mozambicans who fled from their countries during the civil wars. This group of Portuguese-speaking African countries is also known as PALOP (Países Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa).

In its official capacity, Portuguese serves in the realms of administration, education, law, politics and media. The existing linguistic diversity of the PALOPs requires Portuguese to also serve the purpose of lingua franca, allowing communication between fellow citizens of different ethno-linguistic backgrounds. In education, media and legal documents standard Portuguese is used, which is based on European Portuguese vocabulary used in Lisbon. African Portuguese dialects differ from standard European Portuguese both in terms of pronunciation and colloquial vocabulary.

Portuguese in Business

Portuguese does not only connect the PALOP countries to one another, but also to Portugal and to East Timor, Macau and Brazil. The Portuguese language has thus developed into a widely used language in the world of business. Brazil (which is a former Portuguese colony) has emerged as a serious player in terms of world industry and commerce, and is continuously expanding. Iron and steel production is a major industry in Brazil and the country has become established as one of the world leaders in this area, while petroleum products are also a major factor in the growth of the economy.

At Language Inc. we recognise this, and we offer a comprehensive range of language and translation solutions to suit. We can help you deal with businesses in these and other areas by way of fully trained native speaking service providers who can assist with all your language needs. Also, we shall ensure that your dealings with valued Brazilian clients are presented with accurate translation and copy at all times.

Additional Sources: https://www.unesco.org/en/days/portuguese-language, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_language_in_Africa


It is estimated that in 2100 Africa will have the majority of Portuguese speakers in the world, surpassing Brazil.

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