Most Diverse Countries 2019

Determining what countries are the most culturally diverse is a challenge. There are a variety of factors that contribute to diversity, which is why there’s not a single comprehensive list. However, there are a few lists that are commonly used to measure the cultural diversity of countries across the nation to determine which are the most diverse.

One list is known as the Fearon list. This is named for James Fearon, a professor at Stanford University. This list takes a look at the similarities between languages spoken in a nation. A higher score is given to nations that speak two or more unrelated languages, while a lower score indicates that most or all of the nation speaks the same language. This list has been criticized for focusing on linguistic variations instead of considering genetic diversity and other factors.

Based on the last list from 2003, the most ethnically diverse nation is Papua New Guinea, which was the only nation to receive a score of 1 – the highest score. Coming in second was Tanzania, with the Democratic Republic of Congo ranking third. The top 10 most ethnically and culturally diverse nations based on the Fearon analysis are:

Another list is the Alesina list. This list is named for Alberto Alesina, a political economist. This list considers factors beyond just languages, such as religion and ethnicity. Based on this list, the most diverse nation based on ethnicity is Uganda. Other nations that received high rankings for ethnicity include:

  • Liberia
  • Madagascar
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Congo
  • Cameroon
  • Chad
  • Kenya

Based on linguistics, Uganda was found to be the most diverse. Additional nations that received high rankings include:

  • Liberia
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • Cameroon
  • Kenya
  • Zambia

Based on religious diversity, South Africa was the most diverse nation. Additional nations at the top of this list include:

Rank Flag Name Population 2019 Area Area (mi²) % of Earth's Area Growth Rate Region Subregion
1South Africa58,558,2701,221,037 km²471,320 mi²0.82%1.33%AfricaSouthern Africa
2Tanzania58,005,463945,087 km²364,804 mi²0.64%3.00%AfricaEastern Africa
3Uganda44,269,594241,550 km²93,238 mi²0.16%3.61%AfricaEastern Africa
4Madagascar26,969,307587,041 km²226,598 mi²0.40%2.69%AfricaEastern Africa
5Cameroon25,876,380475,442 km²183,521 mi²0.32%2.62%AfricaMiddle Africa
6Papua New Guinea8,776,109462,840 km²178,656 mi²0.31%1.97%OceaniaMelanesia
7Togo8,082,36656,785 km²21,919 mi²< 0.1%2.45%AfricaWestern Africa
8Liberia4,937,374111,369 km²42,988 mi²< 0.1%2.46%AfricaWestern Africa