Zimbabwe’s 16 languages were officially recognised by Guinness World Records in 2013, consisting of Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya, Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa.
The key here is how official languages are defined. According to the record keepers, they use the definition described by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: “A language that has legal status in a particular legally constituted political entity and that serves as a language of administration”, though relating specifically to the country as a whole.
India, for instance, has 18 languages that are recognised by the country’s constitution as official languages, however each of these is the official language of particular areas. Only Hindi is considered the overall official national language – it is the language of all central government decrees – while English is technically considered a “second language”.