People and Language



Bantu people migrated from West Africa to East Africa between the years 1000 and 1800. They settled in areas that became Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Since that time they have separated into many ethnic groups, including Zaramo in Tanzania and Hutu in Rwanda.

The Masai are know historically as fiercely independent warriors and cattle herders of the East Africa plains. Today they are restricted to living in a small portion of their former territory. They still herd cattle, but now they also plant crops or leave for city jobs. Life expectancy is younger than 60 years of age in East Africa.

The median age hovers around 18 years of age. East Africa is ravaged by AIDS, resulting in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates and lower population growth rates.


Swahili, or Kiswahili, and English are the official languages of much of East Africa, but French, Kirunidi and Kinyarwanda are also spoken. Swahili is the lingua franca of Eastern and Central Africa. It is also the language of commerce.