Zulu people

ethnic group in South Africa, Lesotho, and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)

The Zulu are the largest ethnic group in South Africa. There are 10-12 million Zulu living in South Africa, mostly in KwaZulu-Natal province. However, a small number of Zulu also live in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Mozambique. The Zulu language, called isiZulu, is a Bantu language of the Nguni subgroup.

Zulu people
Total population
~ 12,159,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
 South Africa10,659,309 (2001 census)
to 12,559,000[1][2]
(many also speak English, Portuguese, Afrikaans and Xhosa)
Christianity, Zulu religion
Related ethnic groups
Nguni, Xhosa, Swazi, Ndebele, other Bantu peoples
 person  umZulu
 people  amaZulu
 language  isiZulu
 country  kwaZulu

The Zulu Kingdom was very important in South African history during the 1800s and 1900s. During Apartheid, the Zulu people were third-class citizens and suffered from official discrimination. Today the Zulu people are the largest ethnic group in South Africa and have equal rights.



The Zulu were originally a major clan in the area that is today Northern KwaZulu-Natal. The Zulu clan was started around the year 1709 by Zulu kaNtombhela. In the Nguni languages, the words iZulu, iliZulu, and liTulu mean heaven, or sky.[3]

In the early 1700s, many large Nguni communities and clans lived in the area. These groups were called isizwe (nations) and isibongo (clans). These Nguni communities had migrated down the East coast of Africa over thousands of years. These movements of people were called the Bantu migrations. They probably arrived in what is today South Africa in the 800s.

Shaka, king of the Zulu. An engraving based on a sketch by Lt. James King, a merchant in Port Natal.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 "The Zulu people group are reported in 7 countries". Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  2. International Marketing Council of South Africa (9 July 2003). "South Africa grows to 44.8 million". www.southafrica.info. Archived from the original on 22 May 2005. Retrieved 4 March 2005.
  3. "People of Africa: Tuareg". African Holocaust Society. Retrieved 2007-01-04.

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