Mali - Languages

French, the official language, is the language of administration and of the schools and is the main unifying tongue for the country's diverse population elements. There are virtually as many languages as there are ethnic groups. However, Bambara— widely spoken in western, central, and southern Mali—is understood by about 80% of the population. The Semitic-speaking Arabs and Hamitic-speaking Tuareg are the only groups with a traditional written language, although in recent years other languages, most of which belong to the Niger-Congo group of African languages, have come to be written. Fulani is spoken in the Niger delta, and Songhai in the east and northeast.

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