They say if you want a multicultural experience, you should go to one of these 13 most ethnically diverse countries in the world in 2018.
Before we introduce our list of most ethnically diverse countries in the world, let us define what ethnicity is and how does it differ from the race. According to Live Science, the race is associated with biology while ethnicity is associated with culture. While races are genetically distinct populations within the same species, ethnicity is a term which applies to the culture of people in the certain geographic region. It includes language, heritage as well as religion. While these two can overlap, race and ethnicity are very different.
Ethnicity is usually an inherited status based on the society you are born and live in. People who share the same ethnicity share the same cultural heritage, ancestry, language or dialect, religion, etc. Earlier, we wrote about most multicultural countries in the world, where Belgium, Sweden, and Slovenia were just a few of the most culturally diverse countries in the world we included in the list. So, if you want to find out what is the most multicultural country in the world, read ’till the end. On the other hand, when it comes to least racially diverse states in America, WalletHub lists Vermont, Maine, and West Virginia as least diverse of all.
According to WorldAtlas, island nations are the most culturally homogenous due to their inherent isolation. American Samoa, Aruba, Bermuda, and Comoros are among the top countries included in the list of least diverse countries. When it comes to cities, Washington DC, Houston, and London are among the top most diverse cities in the world. To find out what other cities are on that list, check out The 10 Most Ethnically Diverse Countries in the World. As for the United States, Wallet Hub lists New York at the very top of the most diverse cities in the U.S.
Diversity is beautiful, despite what some may think. We all live on the same planet and there is no reason why we shouldn’t feel welcome in any part of this large world. Some countries are more tolerant than others, (like these 10 most tolerant countries in the world), but some are extremely cosmopolitan and open to everyone. If you believe in cosmopolitanism, you would definitely enjoy visiting one of the countries mentioned in 16 Cosmopolitan Most Culturally and Ethnically Diverse Countries in the World in 2017. The most diverse country in the world 2016 ranking isn’t that much different.
Defining most ethnically diverse countries is not a simple task. While most reports and sources we relied on agree on the fact that African countries are most diverse, ranking the countries requires a lot of hard work. There is a methodology for this kind of research called ethnic fractionalization which is based on the probability that two random individuals in a country or neighborhood belong to the same ethnic group. That is exactly what the authors of a paper for the Harvard Institute of Economic Research did – they measured ethnic diversity or ethnic fractionalization. This report has been a reliable source for researchers. However, some of the data is very old and information from some countries was scarce. This should be emphasized because ethnicity can change and so precise data cannot be obtained at all times. Due to lack of any newer reports on the issue, The Washington Post relied on this report from the Harvard Institute, and so did we.
These are the 13 most ethnically diverse countries in the world in 2018.
13. Cote d’Ivoire
Cote d’Ivoire or Ivory Coast, a republic found in the western parts of Africa, has a complex ethnic composition. It is estimated that there are about 60 ethnic groups in this country. The two largest ethnic groups in Ivory Coast are the Akan and Voltaique. The Akan community has an estimated population of twenty million members, according to WorldAtlas.
The population of Guinea-Bissau is very ethnically diverse with different customs, languages, as well as social structures. In the north and the northeast are mostly Fula and Mandinka speakers while the Balanta and Papel live in the southern coastal regions.
The main ethnic group in Somalia are the Somali, who make up about 85% of total population of the country. The other 15% of the population is comprised of minority ethnic groups. According to Study.com, there are notable Pakistani and Indian populations in Somalia as well as Ethiopians. Several African groups that belong to the Bantu language are also present.
10. The Central African Republic
The Central African Republic ranked 10th on our list of most ethnically diverse countries in the world in 2018. There are many groups in the Central African Republic such as the Pygmy, the Aka, the Zande, etc. However, it is very difficult to divide this country into definite ethnic groups, according to Britannica.
Nigeria is a very ethnically diverse country with over 500 languages and ethnic groups. The largest ethnic groups include Hausa who make up for about 25% of the entire population, (about 67 million people) Yoruba (21%), Igbo (18%), Ijaw, Kanuri, Fulani etc. The Hausa culture is very similar throughout Nigeria. They practice Islam as their main religion, they raise livestock and grow crops. The Yoruba people, the second largest ethnic group in Nigeria, are usually Muslim or Christian but a large number of them still value the religious beliefs and practices of their ancestors.
According to African Studies Center, there are over 70 ethnic groups in Kenya ranging in size from several million to several hundred. The groups can be divided into three linguistic groups which are the Bantu, Nilotic, and Cushite. The largest ethnic group is the Kikuyu and it makes up for 20% of the entire population.
Chad ranks 7th on our list of most ethnically diverse countries in the world in 2018. It is another very ethnically diverse country with hundreds of ethnic groups. The Sara and the Arabas are the most populous ethnic groups in Chad, according to WorldAtlas, and it makes up for about 28% of the entire population. A significant part of the group still practices traditional faiths. The Arabs constitute about 12% of Chad’s population and they are subdivided into three groups: the Hassuna, the Juhayna, and the Awlad Sulayman. Approximately, there are about 180 ethnic groups and over one hundred languages are spoken in the country. Other important ethnic groups besides the Sara and the Arabs include Daza, Mayo-Kebbi, Kanem, Bornou, etc.
There are about 250 distinct ethnolinguistic groups in Cameroon. The largest broad ethnic category in Cameroon are the Western Highlanders, according to Study.com. They are made up of various ethnic populations and they belong to the Semi-Bantu language family.
5. DR Republic of Congo
Fifth on our list of most ethnically diverse countries in the world in 2018 is the Democratic Republic of Congo which is home to over 200 different ethnic groups, and some of them are migrants of the surrounding countries. It is estimated that about 215 languages are spoken in the country while French is the official language in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
4. Republic of Congo
We are continuing our list of most ethnically diverse countries in the world in 2018 with the Republic of Congo which is very ethnically diverse. The population is comprised of four major ethnic groups which are The Kongo (which makes up for 48% of the entire population), Sangha, Teke, and M’Bochi. These major ethnic groups comprise more than 40 tribes according to Nations Encyclopedia. As for the non-African communities, a certain number of Europeans were present, mostly French but this was before the civil war.
Madagascar ranks third on our list of most ethnically diverse countries in the world in 2018, and it is certainly very ethnically diverse but about nine-tenths of the entire population is Malagasy, divided into 20 different ethnic groups, according to Britannica. The most dominant groups among them are the Merina people with the second largest group being the Betsimisaraka. Other important groups include the Tsimihety, the Sakalava, the Antandroy, the Tanala, etc. According to the same source, about two-fifths of the population practices the traditional religion based on ancestor worship. Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are also widespread with about half the population being Christian. There is a small percent of Sunni Muslim as well.
According to Nations Encyclopedia, Indigenous African tribes constitute about 95% of the entire population of Liberia. Liberia is also populated by about 28 ethnic groups who migrated from the north and east and brought with them elements of Egyptian and Arabian culture each with its own language. About 2.5% of the population are descendants of immigrants from the United States (Americo-Liberians). When the freed slaves from the American South relocated to what we now know as Liberia, they wanted to create an independent republic and live freely. They formed the Republic of Liberia, the first republic in Africa. According to the Encyclopedia, tribal divisions are becoming less distinct due to intermarriage and an aggressive national unification program. However, there is a strong tendency among the indigenous people to preserve their identity.
The population of Uganda, the most ethnically diverse countries in the world in 2018, is made up of various ethnic groups. Uganda is home to more than 40 indigenous ethnic groups, according to World Atlas. Some of the largest ethnic groups include the Baganda people, which make up for about 16% of the entire population and belong to the Bantu ethnic family. There are 52 recognized Baganda clans today in this ethnically diverse country. The second largest group is the Banyankole (about 9.5%) and third is the Basoga group which makes up for about 8.4% of the entire population of Uganda. Other groups include the Bakiga, the Iteso, the Langi, the Acholi, etc.