Ethnicity is the identity of similar groups of people connected to their ancestral, social, national, cultural, and common language. Important factors form the basis of a person’s ethnicity such as joint ancestry, origin myth, homeland, history, cultural heritage, and language. Cultural heterogeneity is about the existence of diverse cultures in a certain population living in a territory or country. Ethnic fractionalization is about demographics and socioeconomic distribution of distinct cultural groups in a country or territory. It is also the difference between one cultural group having dominance over another or cultural groups being independent of each other. The difference between majorities and minorities are also crucial in this respect as some minorities may be economically superior.
Ethnic Diversity in Sub-Saharan Africa
All of the world’s most culturally heterogeneous countries are found in Sub-Saharan Africa. Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa, two French territories, and African island nations all make up Sub-Saharan Africa. This group includes a total of 42 countries which at one time or another were colonies of European nations. Today, the Sub-Saharan African populations know how to speak and use one or more of six hundred Bantu languages and their former European colonist’s language.
The following list of the most ethnically-fractionalized countries in Sub-Saharan Africa is based on the data published by Alberto Alesina in the Journal of Economic Growth (8: 155–194).
Uganda tops the list at 0.930200 rating. English is the official language here, and Swahili is the second language. The country’s population of 37,873,253 people is composed of Ugandans and more than ten ethnic groups. Christians make up 85% of the population, and 12.1% are Islam adherents.
Second is Liberia at a rating of 0.908400. The population is 4,503,000 people strong of which 95% are Liberians, and the rest are of 16 ethnic groups who speak 31 dialects in addition to English as the official language.
Third is Madagascar at a rating of 0.879100. The population strength is 22,434,363 people of which are eight ethnic groups who speak Malagasy with French as the second language, English, and many other dialects of Malagasy. Christians dominate the population with Islam adherents about 7%.
Republic of the Congo
The fourth is the Republic of the Congo at 0.874700. The Congo has a population of 4,662,446 of which 48% are Kongo, and the rest are three ethnic groups. Christians make up about 85% of the population with other faiths making up a small percentage. There are 62 spoken languages in the country. Fifth is DR Congo at 0.874700.
DR Congo has a population of 81,680,000 of which there are over 200 ethnic groups who speak about 242 languages with French as the official language. Christianity has about 80% adherents while 10% are Muslims, and the other 10% follow native faiths. The next countries on the list are as follows: Cameroon at 0.863500, Chad at 0.862000, Kenya at 0.858800, Nigeria at 0.850500, and the Central African Republic at 0.829500.
Socioeconomic Implications of Ethnic Fractionalization
Ethnic fractionalization has resulted in perennial conflicts that have consumed the lives of these ethnic people. Illiteracy has increased or remained high in areas of conflict. The AIDS epidemic has also destroyed a majority of the region’s population. Other serious diseases continue to fester due to lack of doctors and medicines. Political and legal conflicts add to the confusion and has caused the collapse of economies in the region resulting in mass hunger.