Race is the outmoded concept that the human race can be divided into several distinct groups of people based upon shared genetic or ethnic ancestry and/or traits. If a country is considered racially diverse, it is home to many different groups of people who share their own distinct characteristics. Race is a controversial subject, as genetic studies have confirmed that the concept has no biogenetic basis despite "racial" differences such as skin color and hair texture. Moreover, today's scholars point out that race is a cultural invention, largely originating during Europe's Age of Exploration (approx. 1400-1650), and has never had a clear definition. Sometimes it has referred to physical appearance (caucasian, negro) and at other times to continent of origin (Asians, Africans, Indians), language (Greeks, Arabs), religion (Jews, Muslims), or even nationality or ethnicity (Irish, Koreans, Hispanics). Racial diversity is often used (incorrectly) as a synonym for cultural diversity, a more scientifically sound concept that disregards genetics and focuses instead upon linguistic and ethnic variety. It is unrelated to the ecological concept of megadiversity.
Racial diversity is growing in many nations, often as a result of increased immigration. This rise is arguably unsurprising when one considers the emergence of the global marketplace in recent decades and the ease of modern travel. Together, these factors have increased opportunities for people to relocate internationally for work, marriage, political reasons, or a simple change of scenery. According to a survey released by Pew Research Center in 2019, approximately 69% of people surveyed across 27 nations felt their respective nations have grown more diverse over the last 20 years. Nearly half of survey respondents approved of a more racially diverse nation, with only 23% viewing increased diversity as a negative development.
These trends followed certain demographic lines, with younger, more liberal, and more educated people favoring increased diversity while older, more conservative, and less educated respondents proved less fond of the idea. In the United States, the most diverse states are California, Texas, Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York. Contemporary immigrants typically settle in California, New York, Texas, and New Jersey—coastal states with large cities and increased likelihood of work opportunities—increasing those states' diversity.
One of the most comprehensive studies of diversity was created by a team of scholars from Harvard University, World Bank, Stanford, and New York University and published in the Journal of Economic Growth in a paper called "Fractionalization." Fractionalization is a measure of the likelihood that two randomly selected people in a given country will be from two different groups (ethnicities, religions, etc.) or speak two different languages. In its initial form, fractionalization is a number between 0 and 1, with 0 meaning no variation and 1 meaning complete variation.
This method of expressing fractionalization also lends itself readily to conversion into a probability percentage, which non-statisticians may find easier to parse. The ten most diverse countries according to ethnic fractionalization are listed below. A more comprehensive table further down adds more countries and also incorporates religious and linguistic fractionalization. These data often correspond broadly to the results of Erkan Gören's 2013 study on cultural diversity.
|Rank||Country||Fractionalization||Probability of diversity|
|4||Congo (Dem. Rep.)||.8747||87.47%|
|5||Congo (Republic of)||.8747||87.47%|
|10||Central African Republic||.8295||82.95%|
Uganda is the most racially diverse country in the world, with 93% ethnic fractionalization.