Bantu is used as a general label for 300-600 ethnic groups in Africa who speak Bantu languages, distributed from Cameroon east across Central Africa and Eastern Africa to Southern Africa. There are about 250 Bantu languages by the criterion of mutual intelligibility, though the distinction between language and dialect is often unclear, and Ethnologue counts 535 languages. The Bantu family is fragmented into hundreds of individual groups, none of them larger than a few million people (the largest being the Zulu with some 10 million). The Bantu language Swahili with its 5-10 million native speakers is of super-regional importance as tens of millions fluently command it as a second language. Bantu or its various forms means the people or humans. The word appears in all Bantu languages in...'
Contributions by Amcaja, Mark Dingemanse, and 220.127.116.11.