Languages

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Chitral, being the largest district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, contributes almost 21% to the total covered area of the province. The district is girdled around by proud mountains of the Hindukush range, and is patched up with scattered valleys. In total there are 33 valleys and some 443 hamlets. The total population of the district at present stands around 0.5 million. Surrounded by Afghanistan in the West and Northwest, in the south by district Dir, in the North by Wakhan corridor and in the East by Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir, the area has been proudly resisting their climatic as well as cultural influence, and manifesting its own.

Chitral is situated on the crossroads of Central Asian and South Asian cultures. The district is home to 14 language communities, including the famous Kalash community. Among the cultural and linguistic groups, the Kho is predominant with 82% population. Other groups are Gawarbati, Dameli, Palula, Madaklashti, Kalasha, Shekhani, Yadgha, Kataweri, Kerghez, Wakhi, Sariquli, Pashto and Gujri. Each language community has preserved its indigenous culture in the form of folk poetry, folk songs, folk tales and folk arts and crafts.

Khowar, also known as Chitrali, being the language of the majority, is the lingua franca of the area. It is a member of the Dardic branch of Indo-Aryan language family. It has about 450,000 speakers in Pakistan, especially in Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Ghizer district of Gilgit-Baltistan including Yasin, Phandar, Ashkuman and Gupis valleys. A considerable population of Khowar speakers also lives in two villages of Kalam, namely Ushu and Maltiltan in Swat. A great population of Khowar speakers also lives in down country cities such as Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

The Khowar language, although, shares certain characteristics with other languages of the region, hassome unique features which markedly distinguish it from all others.