Gawri was referred to as Kalam Kohistani/Dir Kohistani for a long time. The Gawri speakers generally refer to their language as Kohistani and it is spoken in the Swat and Upper Dir valleys of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Gawri is a tonal language with five contrastive tones, each word of the language registering at one of these five tones.

Gawri is the predominant language in the Kalam district, but it is not the only one. Groups of different ethnic backgrounds have also settled into the area, and learned Gawri as a second language. Also, most men and some of the women in the Kalam district have learned Pashto as a second language, since that is the lingua franca of the Swat district and the North-West Frontier Province. Traditionally, the Kalami are subsistence farmers. In the past few decades, cash crops have been introduced, and there was an explosive growth of tourism in the ‘80s and ‘90s. In the winter season, many of the Kalami migrate to Mingora, Peshawar, Lahore, Rawalpindi and other cities to look for jobs.