Swahili swähē´lē [key] [Arab.,=coast people], name for some of the inhabitants of the Kenya, Tanzania, Somali, and Mozambique coasts, Zanzibar, and E Congo. Descendants of black Africans and Arab traders (who came to the E African coast about AD 500), the Swahili do not form a cohesive ethnic group but are loosely united by common economic pursuits (especially trade), by cultural traditions, and particularly by the use of the Swahili language .
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