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Most Ethnically Diverse Countries In The World

Most of the world's most culturally heterogeneous countries are found in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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An ethnic group refers to people who identify with each other based on a common ancestry or genealogy. Ethnicity can also refer to people united by a shared language, culture, history, or even nation. Some countries are more ethnically heterogeneous than others meaning that these coutnries are home to a great diversity of ethnic groups. Several factors encourage ethnic diversity in a country including large size, isolated populations, migrations from various other countries, etc.

The demographics and socioeconomic distribution of distinct cultural groups in a country or territory is called ethnic fractionalization. The data below is based on a study conducted by Fearon, where 1 is the most culturally diverse and 0 is the least. According to this measure, Papua New Guinea is the most diverse country in the world, followed by Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda.

The 5 Most Ethnically Diverse Countries in the World

1. Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is the world's most linguistically diverse country, a fact that contributes to its status as the most ethnically diverse country in the world. There are thousands of ethnic groups in the country, each with their languages and customs. Incredibly, there are languages in Papua New Guinea that have no relation to one another despite their geographic proximity.

2. Tanzania

More than one hundred ethnic groups live in Tanzania. Many of these groups speak their unique languages. In addition to this, several foreign residents live in Tanzania, many of whom are from other parts of Africa, Asia and Europe. The population of Tanzania is 55,572,201.

3. The Democratic Republic of the Congo

DR Congo has a population of 81,680,000. There are over 200 ethnic groups in the nation who speak about 242 languages. French is the official language of the country. 

4. Uganda

Uganda, another country in Africa, is also home to a great diversity of ethnic groups. The largest such groups include Baganda, Banyankole, and Basoga who account for 16.9%, 9.5%, and 8.4% of the country's population.

5. Liberia

African countries appear to rule the list with another African country Liberia ranking as the world's fifth-most ethnically diverse country. The population of Liberia is around 4,503,000. Indigenous African tribes account for nearly 95% of Liberia's population. The country is home to around 28 ethnic groups each with its own language. Linguistically, Liberian tribes are divided into three main groups, the Mande people, the Kru tribes, and the Mel.

African Countries Dominate The List

If we look at the table below, we will see that all but one of the world's 10 most ethnically diverse nations are African. The only exception is Papua New Guinea. Africa's dominance could be related to its tribal cultures that continue to thrive even today in relative isolation from the rest of the world.

Most Ethnically Diverse Countries In The World

RankCountryEthnic Diversity Score
1Papua New Guinea1.0000
2Tanzania0.9530
3Democratic Republic of Congo0.9330
4Uganda0.9300
5Liberia0.8990
6Cameroon0.8870
7Togo0.8830
8South Africa0.8800
9Congo0.8780
10Madagascar0.8610
11Gabon0.8570
12Kenya0.8520
13Ghana0.8460
14Malawi0.8290
15Guinea-Bissau0.8180
16Somalia0.8120
17India0.8110
18Nigeria0.8050
19Yugoslavia (1943–1992)0.8010
20Central African Republic0.7910
21Ivory Coast0.7840
22Lebanon0.7800
23Chad0.7720
24Indonesia0.7660
25Mozambique0.7650
26Gambia0.7640
27Sierra Leone0.7640
28Ethiopia0.7600
29Angola0.7560
30Mali0.7540
31Afghanistan0.7510
32Bolivia0.7430
33United Arab Emirates0.7370
34Senegal0.7270
35Zambia0.7260
36Namibia0.7240
37Soviet Union (1922–1991)0.7110
38Sudan (1955–2011)0.7080
39Kuwait0.7080
40Burkina Faso0.7040
41Bosnia and Herzegovina0.6810
42Kyrgyzstan0.6790
43Nepal0.6770
44Iran0.6690
45Guinea0.6690
46Kazakhstan0.6640
47Colombia0.6560
48Ecuador0.6550
49Eritrea0.6470
50Trinidad and Tobago0.6470

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