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Cushitic language of Ethiopia and Kenya
Oromoo script, Qubee Saaphaloo, from Bakri Sapalo
37.4 million (all countries) (2018) 36.6 million in Ethiopia, 627,000 in Kenya, 96,000 in Sudan, 41,600 in Somalia
Lowland East Cushitic
Latin (Qubee, Oromo alphabet)
Official language in
Recognised minority language in
orm – inclusive code Individual codes: gax – Borana–Arsi–Guji–Wallaggaa-Shawaa Oromo hae – Eastern Oromo orc – Orma gaz – West Central Oromo ssn – Waata
Areas in East Africa where Oromo is spoken
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Oromo (/ˈɒrəmoʊ/ or /ɔːˈroʊmoʊ/; Oromo: Afaan Oromoo), historically also called Galla (a name regarded as pejorative by the Oromo), is an Afroasiatic language that belongs to the Cushitic branch. It is native to the Ethiopian state of Oromia and Northern Kenya and is spoken predominantly by the Oromo people and neighboring ethnic groups in the Horn of Africa. It is used as a lingua franca particularly in the Oromia Region and northeastern Kenya.
With more than 36 million speakers making up 33.8% of the total Ethiopian population, Oromo has the largest number of native speakers in Ethiopia, and ranks as the second most widely spoken language in Ethiopia by total number of speakers (including second-language speakers) following Amharic. Forms of Oromo are spoken as a first language by an additional half-million people in parts of northern and eastern Kenya. It is also spoken by smaller numbers of emigrants in other African countries such as South Africa, Libya, Egypt and Sudan. Oromo is the most widely spoken Cushitic language and among the five languages of Africa with the largest mother-tongue populations.
Oromo serves as one of the official working languages of Ethiopia and is also the working language of several of the states within the Ethiopian federal system including Oromia, Harari and Dire Dawa regional states and of the Oromia Zone in the Amhara Region. It is a language of primary education in Oromia, Harari, Dire Dawa, Benishangul-Gumuz and Addis Ababa and of the Oromia Zone in the Amhara Region. It is used as an internet language for federal websites along with Tigrinya. Under Haile Selassie's regime, Oromo was banned in education, in conversation, and in administrative matters.
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