Does Everyone Speak English in Dar es Salaam?

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Does Everyone Speak English in Dar es Salaam?

Dar es Salaam, also known as DSM, is the largest city in Tanzania. Located on the Swahili coast, it is a bustling port city and an important commercial center for East Africa. When it comes to language, Tanzania is a multilingual country, making it hard to know if the people in Dar es Salaam speak English. This blog post is to help dispel some common misconceptions about the language situation in the city and provide insights as to the actual scenario.

The Official Language of Tanzania

Before we dive into whether people in Dar es Salaam speak English, it is crucial to understand the official language of Tanzania first. Tanzania has two official languages: Swahili and English. Swahili or Kiswahili, as it’s known in the country, is the national language, whereas English is the language of instruction in schools and also used in the legal and government documents.

English Proficiency in Tanzania

According to the English Proficiency Index of 2020, Tanzania ranks 92 out of 100 countries, which means Tanzania has a moderate level of English proficiency. In Tanzania, the overall English proficiency is improving, but there are still significant gaps. Rural and underprivileged areas of Tanzania have a lower level of English proficiency compared to urban areas.

Therefore, it is essential to understand the demographics of Dar es Salaam before giving a definitive answer to the question of whether people there speak English.

Demographics of Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam is a city of over six million people, so it’s pretty hard to generalize. The residents of Dar es Salaam speak a variety of languages, and English is one of them. However, the English-speaking population in the city is not as high as one would expect.

According to the 2012 National Census, Swahili is the most widely spoken language in Dar es Salaam, with 95.3% of the population speaking it. Additionally, 25.6% of Dar es Salaam residents speak English, although the proficiency level varies greatly amongst this percentage.

Language and Education in Dar es Salaam

As mentioned before, English is the language of instruction in Tanzanian schools, including those in Dar es Salaam. This means that most young people in the city have a basic level of proficiency in English. However, this is only limited to the younger population, and adults may not be fluent in the language.

Additionally, it’s important to note that there are different levels of education in Dar es Salaam. There are private schools and universities that encourage the use of English as a medium of instruction. These schools promote English proficiency and improve students’ fluency, which raises the level of English proficiency in the city.


Based on the information presented in this blog post, it is safe to say that not everyone in Dar es Salaam speaks English. The majority of the population speaks Swahili. However, English is still widely spoken amongst the city population, particularly amongst those who have received a formal education.

Overall, the English proficiency in Tanzania and particularly in Dar es Salaam is improving. This is mainly due to the government’s efforts to promote English language education and its importance in the business and tourism industry.

So, if you’re planning to visit Dar es Salaam, having a basic knowledge of Swahili is helpful, but if you know English, you should be able to communicate with most people you come across.

Now that you have a better understanding of the language situation in Dar es Salaam, you can confidently travel to this vibrant and diverse city without any communication apprehensions.

An Insider’s Guide to Dar es Salaam – The Largest City of Tanzania

Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania, is a bustling metropolis situated on the eastern coast of Africa, facing the Indian Ocean. The city has a rich history and diverse culture, making it a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. If you are planning a trip to Dar es Salaam, here is an insider’s guide to help you make the most of your stay.

Attractions in Dar es Salaam

There are many attractions in Dar es Salaam that you should not miss. One of the most popular is the National Museum of Tanzania. Here you can learn about the history and culture of Tanzania, see traditional art and crafts, and view a collection of fossils and artifacts from the Olduvai Gorge.

Another must-visit attraction is the Askari Monument, located in the city center. The monument commemorates the African soldiers who fought for the British during World War I. The nearby St. Joseph’s Cathedral is also worth a visit, with its beautiful stained glass windows and stunning architecture.

If you love nature, then the Dar es Salaam Zoo and Botanical Gardens are a must-visit. Here, you can see a variety of animals and plants, including monkeys, crocodiles, and rare species of birds. The Botanical Gardens are a great place to relax and take a leisurely stroll.

Dining in Dar es Salaam

In Dar es Salaam, you can find a wide variety of dining options, from traditional African cuisine to international fare. If you want to try local food, Karambezi Cafe is a great place to start. This open-air restaurant overlooks the Indian Ocean and serves fresh seafood along with local dishes such as Tanzanian curries and stews. Another popular restaurant is the Alcove, which offers a mix of Tanzanian and Indian cuisine in a relaxing, casual setting.

For those looking for international cuisine, there are plenty of options available. The Cape Town Fish Market is a popular spot for seafood, while Olive Kitchen + Coffee is a great spot for brunch or lunch, with a range of international dishes on the menu.

Cultural Experiences in Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam is home to a vibrant arts and culture scene, with many events and festivals taking place throughout the year. One of the best ways to experience the local culture is to visit the Mwenge Carvers Market, where you can see artisans at work and purchase unique souvenirs to take home. The street food scene in Dar es Salaam is also worth experiencing, with local vendors selling everything from fried cassava to beef skewers.

Another cultural experience not to be missed is a visit to the Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society. Here, you can learn about the Tingatinga art style, which originated in Tanzania in the 1960s, and watch local artists at work. You can also buy Tingatinga art, which makes for a unique and colorful souvenir.

Local History in Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam has a rich history, with many sites and landmarks that offer insights into the city’s past. One such landmark is the Old Boma, which was built in 1866 and now serves as a museum. Here, you can learn about the colonial history of Tanzania and see artifacts from the German and British occupation periods.

Another historical site worth visiting is the Karimjee Hall. This building was constructed in 1916 and is one of the oldest buildings in Dar es Salaam. It has played an important role in the city’s history, serving as a center for social and political activities.

Off the Beaten Path Suggestions in Dar es Salaam

For those looking to venture off the beaten path, there are many hidden gems in Dar es Salaam waiting to be discovered. One such place is the Kunduchi Wet ‘N’ Wild Water Park, which is a great spot for families with kids. The park boasts water slides, wave pools, and a lazy river, as well as a range of other activities.

Another off-the-beaten-path attraction is the Bongoyo Island Marine Reserve. This small island off the coast of Dar Es Salaam is home to beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it a great spot for snorkeling and diving. You can also enjoy a picnic on the island while taking in the stunning ocean views.

In conclusion, Dar es Salaam is a city full of fascinating history, diverse culture, and amazing food. With this insider’s guide, you’ll be well-equipped to explore the city and make the most of your trip. So pack your bags and get ready for an adventure in Tanzania’s largest city.


Does Everyone Speak English in Dar es Salaam?

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