Sheko is a minority language of south-western Ethiopia with about 39,000 speakers. It belongs to the Omotic group of the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is not an endangered language at the moment, for it is spoken by adults and children at home and in many public situations, but its position is vulnerable. It is not used in schools and rarely written. Education is available in Amharic and English, but many speakers of Sheko are illiterate. However, speakers of Sheko value their language and want to keep it alive.

What makes a language vulnerable, what makes a language safe? Read more about it in Chapter 8 of the Book of Knowledge!


Short information about Sheko at:

A comprehensive grammar of Sheko: Hellenthal, Anneke Christine. 2010. A grammar of Sheko. Proefschrift, Universiteit Leiden. Available online at:

Watch a short clip about a cultural practice of the Sheko:

The Sheko, along with other peoples, live in a region that is of high importance for Ethiopia and the world because of its biological diversity. Watch a video clip about the Sheka Forest Biosphere Reserve and read more at:



Photo: A tree in the Sheka Forest Biosphere Reserve (© UNESCO and Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Technology; source: UNESCO Media Service at