In our globalized world, it seems like finding the most diverse country in the world is becoming harder and harder. Diversity has been a hot topic for decades. Some experts argue that globalization weakens regional and local identities. Others defend that globalization only strengthens them while creating a shared space for exchange, flexibility, and collaboration through diversity.
Regardless of the discussions surrounding it, something’s undeniable: Globalization has changed the world. And it continues to, affect the way we experience culture and entertainment, do business, and travel.
Of course, the effect of globalization hasn’t been uniform across countries and regions. Levels of ethnic diversity and openness to different cultures vary across locations. And, as marketers, it’s key for us to know what to expect, diversity-wise, when helping a brand disembark in a new market.
There are several partners you’ll rely on when working with an expanding international brand. Among them, a translation agency. Knowing the cultural landscape of your target local is vital for you to get actively involved in the marketing localization process, ensuring that your client’s goals are met.
Let’s take a look at the most diverse country in the world along with some of the least diverse.
Finding The Most Diverse Country in the World
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea might be a small country, with a population of fewer than 9 million people. But it’s the most diverse country in the world, hosting 12% of existing languages.
12 of the 848 languages that originated on the island have no living speakers, while the majority of them have fewer than 1,000 speakers.
The country’s largest ethnic groups are the Papuans and the Austronesians, which were its first inhabitants. But they’re not alone, sharing the island with Polynesians, Micronesians, Filipinos, Australians, European and Chinese immigrants.
Democratic Republic of Congo
This Central African country has a population of approximately 5.5 million people. The largest ethnic groups in the country are the Kongo (48% of the population), followed by the Sangha and the Take, which represent 20% and 17% of the population respectively.
The country’s official language is French. But, once you go out on the street, you’ll find 62 spoken languages.
In its colonial past, Congo was home to thousands of European immigrants. The number of foreigners living in the country has decreased throughout the last decades, now consisting of just a few hundred expats.
According to its 2011 Census, South Africa has a population of approximately 59 million people, belonging to five ethnic groups.
On the census, 79.4% of the South African population identified as black Africans, while 9.2% identify as white. South Africa’s white population is mostly of Dutch and English origin. Colored, Asian, and Indian people are a growing minority group within the country.
Of course, these are umbrella terms used to simplify a very complex and far more diverse ethnic landscape.
South Africa has 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Sepedi, Setswana, Sesotho, Xitsonga, Swati, Tshivenda, Ndebele, Xhosa, and Zulu. The ‘rainbow nation’ of South Africa has become widely known as the most diverse country in the world.
The island of Madagascar has a population of approximately 27 million people, mostly distributed throughout rural areas.
Before colonization, most of the island’s territory was uninhabited, but it was home to approximately 20 tribal groups. The largest one, the Betsilio, was composed of 2 million people.
Ethnic diversity is still prevalent in the country, with indigenous populations being joined by French and Indian immigrants. Foreigners are attracted to the country, not only for its natural beauty but also because it’s a strategic location for trade.
The Least Diverse Countries in the World
American Samoa is not an independent nation, but part of the United States.
This territory, located to the southeast of Samoa, comprises five islands and two atolls.
Out of the 55 thousand people living in American Samoa, approximately 15% are U.S. citizens. 35% of the population was born abroad. Most of these immigrants are Samoans. The territory has two official languages: Samoan and English. The population is mostly bilingual.
The Union of Comoros is a sovereign nation located in the Indian Ocean, between Madagascar and Mozambique. This archipelago is the third-smallest African country.
Comoros is one of the least populated countries on earth. It has approximately 860 thousand inhabitants. Most of the population descends from African- Arabs. 98% of Comorosians practice Sunni Islam.
Natives share the island with very small communities of European-born Muslims, members of the Madagascarian Magalasy people, and Indian immigrants.
The Caribbean island of Aruba is supported by a strong tourism industry. In spite of this, it’s one of the least ethnically diverse countries in the world, with the majority of its population being of Dutch origin.
Aruba has a strong national identity, but it’s very open to foreigners. In the end, the island relies on cultural exchange. And it’s located in a region that has always thrived on it.
Most Arubians are multilingual, speaking at least Spanish, English, and Dutch.
Uruguay is a small South American country with a population of fewer than 4 million people. The country is very ethnically homogenous, with an estimated 88% of Uruguayans being of European descent. Uruguay is also home to people of African ancestry, partially indigenous, and Asian populations. Uruguay has a single official language, Spanish.