Hundreds of Languages, Thousands of Ethnic Groups

By some accounts, the number of native languages on the continent of Africa number anywhere from between 1500 and 2000 (Official and Spoken Languages of African Countries 2020). It is home to the highest linguistic diversity on the planet. Linguists organize them into four major language families (Languages of Africa 2009): Niger-Congo which covers central, southern, and eastern Africa; Afroasiatic covers northern Africa, Central Sahara, and the Horn of Africa; Nilo-Saharian which covers central and eastern Africa; and Khoisan covering the western part of southern Africa.

There are a great number of ethnic cultures that make up the continent of Africa. One must continue to understand and view Africa as a continent made up of many culture groups. The countries of Africa are products of European colonialism and cannot be the complete guide to differentiating between cultures. 

Within each of the 54 African countries lie many cultures and languages. Nigeria, for example, has 520 native languages (Nigeria Languages 2020) and over 1150 dialects and ethnic groups (Culture of Nigeria 2020). The six largest ethnic groups are the Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Fulani, Tiv, and the Efik. Located in central Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to 200 ethnic groups and over 200 native languages (Sawe 2019).

Africa has 3000 distinct culture groups, making it the home of the most genetically diverse people on Earth (Spain 2009). So diverse that two Africans are more genetically different from each other than a Chinese and a European are from each other (Yu 2002).

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