Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Best Multilingual Cities In The Middle East And Africa

Lately we've been paying homage to some of the best multilingual settlements in the world across Europe, Canada, the US, Mexico and the Caribbean, South America, and Asia. Today we're heading to the birthplace of humanity and one of the most multilingual continents on the planet, Africa.

Independence Arch in Accra, Ghana
Accra, Ghana

Home to approximately 4 million people, English, Akan, and Ga are spoken in Ghana's capital city. Akan, which only has about 11 million total speakers, is also spoken in the Ivory Coast and Benin.

The city, as you would expect of any capital city, is home to many administrative buildings and businesses. The name Accra has been suggested to come from the Akan word for "ants", owing to the large number of anthills that used to line the landscapes surrounding where the city would eventually expand.

The Ga language, which is also spoken in Accra by around 600,000 people, belongs to the Niger-Congo family of languages, just like Akan.

Sanandaj, Iran

Iran's third largest city, Sanandaj, is particularly interesting owing to its large Kurdish population. Though the official language of Iran is Persian, Sanandaj, known as Senne in Kurdish, has a population that primarily speaks Kurdish, an Indo-European language with around 21 million speakers.

Tel Aviv, Israel

The second largest city in Israel, Tel Aviv is home to the Hebrew language. The language, which is spoken by around 5 million native speakers, is perhaps most famous for its use in Jewish scripture. The city also boasts Arabic and English as commonly used languages, as well as Russian and Aramaic amongst its immigrant communities.

The city also boasts a relatively low crime rate and many areas of culture and entertainment, making it one of the most modernised cities in Israel and even the Middle East. Thanks to the immigrant populations, Tel Aviv is also incredibly multicultural.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is the second largest city in South Africa, with a population of around 800,000 in the city proper and over 4 million in the wider metropolitan area. Amongst these inhabitants, English, Xhosa, Afrikaans and many other African languages are spoken.

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town features some incredible landscapes thanks to the Table Mountain and the bordering ocean. Its climate is comparable to that of southern California.

The city also has a sporting heritage having hosted such global sporting events as the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup, and most recently, the 2010 World Cup, the first World Cup to be held in Africa.

If we've missed any noteworthy multilingual cities in the Middle East or Africa, tell us about them in the comments below!

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