Africa Indigenous Ethnic Groups

Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² (11.7 million sq mi) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area.With 1.0 billion people (as of 2009, see table) in 61 territories, it accounts for about 14.72% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent has 56 sovereign states, which includes Madagascar and various island groups, and two unrecognised countries. Africa, particularly central Eastern Africa, is widely regarded within the scientific community to be the origin of humans and the Hominidaeclade (great apes), as evidenced by the discovery of the earliest hominids and their ancestors, as well as later ones that have been dated to around seven million years ago – including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilis and H. ergaster – with the earliest Homo sapiens (modern human) found in Ethiopia being dated to circa 200,000 years ago. Africa straddles the equator and encompasses numerous climate areas; it is the only continent to stretch from the northern temperate to southern temperate zones. The African expected economic growth rate is at about 5.0% for 2010 and 5.5% in 2011.

The indigenous people of Africa are those people of Africa whose way of life, attachment or claims to particular lands, and social and political standing in relation to other more dominant groups have resulted in their substantial marginalisation within modern African states. Although the vast majority of African peoples can be considered to be "indigenous" in the sense that they have originated from that continent and nowhere else, in practice identity as an "indigenous people" as per the term's modern application is more restrictive. Not every African ethnic group claims identification under these terms. Groups and communities who do claim this recognition are those who by a variety of historical and environmental circumstances have been placed outside of the dominant state systems. Their traditional practices and land claims often have come into conflict with the objectives and policies promulgated by governments, companies and surrounding dominant societies. The resulting marginalisation, combined with the desire to recognise and protect both their collective and human rights, and to maintain the continuity of their individual cultures has led many of these peoples to seek identification as indigenous peoples, in the contemporary global sense of the term. Africa's population has rapidly increased over the last 40 years, and consequently, it is relatively young. In some African states, half or more of the population is under 25 years of age.The total number of people in Africa grew from 221 million in 1950 to 1 billion in 2009.

Speakers of Bantu languages (part of the Niger–Congo family) are the majority in southern, central and southeast Africa. The Bantu-speaking farmers from West Africa's inland savanna progressively expanded over most of Sub-Saharan Africa. But there are also several Nilotic groups in South Sudan and East Africa, the mixed Swahili people on the Swahili Coast, and a few remaining indigenous Khoisan ('San' or 'Bushmen') and Pygmy peoples in southern and central Africa, respectively. Bantu-speaking Africans also predominate in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, and are found in parts of southern Cameroon. In the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa, the distinct people known as the Bushmen (also "San", closely related to, but distinct from "Hottentots") have long been present. The San are physically distinct from other Africans and are the indigenous people of southern Africa. Pygmies are the pre-Bantu indigenous peoples of central Africa.

The peoples of North Africa comprise two main groups: Berbers and Arabic-speaking peoples in the west, and Egyptians and Libyans in the east. The Arabs who arrived in the 7th century introduced the Arabic language and Islam to North Africa. The Semitic Phoenicians (who founded Carthage) and Hyksos, the Indo-Iranian Alans, the Indo- European Greeks, Romans and Vandals settled in North Africa as well. Berbers still make up the majority in Morocco, while they are a significant minority within Algeria. They are also present in Tunisia and Libya. The Berber-speaking Tuareg and other often-nomadic peoples are the principal inhabitants of the Saharan interior of North Africa. Some Ethiopian and Eritrean groups (like the Amhara and Tigrayans, collectively known as Habesha) speak languages from the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family, while the Oromo and Somali speak languages from the Cushitic branch of Afro-Asiatic. Sudan is mostly inhabited by Nubian and Beja people, with northern Mauritania similarly structured.

Prior to the decolonization movements of the post-World War II era, Europeans were represented in every part of Africa. Decolonisation during the 1960s and 1970s often resulted in the mass emigration of European-descended settlers out of Africa – especially from Algeria

and Morocco (1.6 million pieds-noirs in North Africa), Kenya, Congo, Rhodesia, Mozambique and Angola. By the end of 1977, more than one million Portuguese were thought to have returned from Africa. Nevertheless, White Africans remain an important minority in many African states, particularly South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Réunion. The African country with the largest White African population is South Africa. The Afrikaners, the Anglo-Africans (British origin) and Coloureds are the largest European-descended groups in Africa today.

European colonization also brought sizable groups of Asians, particularly people from the Indian subcontinent, to British colonies. Large Indian communities are found in South Africa, and smaller ones are present in Kenya, Tanzania, and some other southern and East African countries. The large Indian community in Uganda was expelled by the dictator Idi Amin in 1972, though many have since returned. The islands in the Indian Ocean are also populated primarily by people of Asian origin, often mixed with Africans and Europeans. The Malagasy people of Madagascar are an Austronesian people, but those along the coast are generally mixed with Bantu, Arab, Indian and European origins. Malay and Indian ancestries are also important components in the group of people known in South Africa as Cape Coloureds (people with origins in two or more races and continents). During the 20th century, small but economically important communities of Lebanese and Chinese have developed in the larger coastal cities of West and East Africa.

Tribal Snapshots

In this section we will present different snapshots of various tribes in Africa. At this time, we do not have full profiles of the tribes presented here, There are currently about 410 Tibes of Africa known and listed. Please check often as we will be adding on to the list.

Akan       Akuapem       Akye       Anyi       Aowin       Asante       Babanki       Baga       Bali       Bamana       Bamileke       Bamum       Bangubangu       Bangwa       Baule       Beembe       Bembe       Benin Kingdom       Berber       Bidyogo       Bobo       Bushoong       Bwa       Cameroon Grasslands       Chokwe       Dan       Diomande       Djenné       Dogon       Eket       Esie       Fang       Fante       Fon       Frafra       Fulani       Hausa       Hemba       Holoholo       Ibibio       Idoma       Igbira       Igbo       Igbo Ukwu       Ijo       Kabre       Karagwe       Kassena       Katana       Kom       Kongo       Kota       Kuba       Kusu       Kwahu       Kwere       Laka       Lega       Lobi       Luba       Luchazi       Luluwa       Lunda       Luvale       Lwalwa       Maasai       Makonde       Mambila       Mangbetu       Manja       Mbole       Mende       Mitsogo       Mossi       Mumuye       Ngbaka       Nkanu       Nok       Nuna       Oron       Owo       Pende       Pokot       Punu       San       Sapi       Senufo       Shambaa       Shona       Songo       Songye       Suku       Swahili       Tabwa       Tuareg       Urhobo       We       Winiama       Wodaabe       Wolof       Woyo       Wum       Yaka      

Yombe       Yoruba       Zaramo       Zulu


There are many different people groups and tribes across the continent of Africa with their culture

varying from tribe to tribe. Included is a few on this page and will be adding to the list regularly.

Afar  :  The Afar people live primarily in Ethiopia and the areas of Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia in the Horn of Africa.

Anlo-Ewe  :  The Anlo-Ewe people are today in the southeastern corner of the Republic of Ghana. They settled here around 1474 after escaping from their past home of Notsie.

Amhara  :  The Amhara are the politically and culturally dominant ethnic group of Ethiopia. They are located primarily in the central highland plateau of Ethiopia and comprise the major population element in the provinces of Begemder and Gojjam and in parts of Shoa and Wallo.

Ashanti  :  The Ashanti live in central Ghana in western Africa approximately 300km. away from the coast. The Ashanti are a major ethnic group of the Akans in Ghana, a fairly new nation, barely more than 50 years old.

Bakongo  :  The Bakongo people (aka. the Kongo) dwell along the Atlantic coast of Africa from Pointe-Noire, Congo (Brazzaville) to Luanda, Angola.

Bambara  :  The Bambara are a large Mande racial group located mostly in the country of Mali. They are the largest and most dominant group in that country.

Bemba  :  The Bemba are located in the northeastern part of Zambia and are the largest ethnic group in the Northern Province of Zambia.

Berber  :  Berbers have lived in Africa since the earliest recorded time. References date back to 3000 BC. There are many scattered tribes of Berber across Morocco,

Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.

Bobo  :  The Bobo peple have lived in western Burkina Faso and Mali for centuries. They are known for their masks which are worn with elaborate outfits for celebrations. Primarily agricultral people they also cultivate cotton which they use to trade with others.

Bushmen / San  :  The 'Bushmen' are the oldest inhabitants of southern Africa, where they have lived for at least 20,000 years. Their home is in the vast expanse of the Kalahari desert.

Chewa  :  The Chewa, also known as the Cewa or Chichewa is an African culture that has existed since the beginning of the first millennium, A.D. They are primarily located in Zambia, Zimbabwe, with the bulk of the population in Malawi.

Dogon  :  The Dogon are a cliff-dwelling people who live in Southeastern Mali and Burkina

Faso  :  Among the people groups in Africa they are unique in that they have kept and continued to develop their own culture even in the midst of Islamic invasions which have conquered and adapted many of the current people groups.

Fang  :  The Fang are especially known for their guardian figures which they attached to wooden boxes containing bones of the ancestors. The bones, by tradition, are said to contain the power of the dead person,  in fact, the same amount of power that the person had while still alive.

Fon  :  The Fon of Benin, originally called Dahomey until 1975, are from West Africa. The Fon are said to have originated in the area of Tado, a town in Tago,  at approximately the same latitude as Abomey, Benin.

Fulani  :  The Fulani people of West Africa are the largest nomadic group in the world, primarily nomadic herders and traders. Through their nomadic lifestyle, they established numerous trade routes in West Africa.

Ibos  :  From Nigerian the Ibos live in villages that have anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand people comprised of numerous extended families.

Kikuyu (Gikuyu)  :  Having migrated to their current location about four centuries ago, the Kikuyu now make up Kenya’s largest ethnic group.

Maasai  :  The Maasai, famous as herders and warriors, once dominated the plains of East Africa. Now however they are confined to a fraction of their former range.

Mandinka  :  The Mandinka are an ethnic group that live in West Africa, primarily Senegal, Gambia,  and Guinea-Bissau, but some also live in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Cote d'Ivoire.

Pygmies There are many different 'Pygmy' peoples – for example, the Bambuti, the Batwa, the Bayaka and the Bagyeli ('Ba -' means 'people') – who live scattered over a huge area in central and western Africa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Congo (Brazzaville), Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.

Samburu  :  The Samburu are related to the Masai although they live just above the equator where the foothills of Mount Kenya merge into the northern desert and slightly  south of Lake Turkana in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya.

Senufo  :  The Senufo are a group of people living in northern Cote d'Ivoire and Mali. They are known as excellent farmers and are made up of a number of different groups who moved south to Mali and Cote d'Ivoire in the 15 and 16th centuries.

Tuareg  :  The Tuareg people are predominently nomadic people of the sahara desert, mostly in the Northern reaches of Mali near Timbuktu and Kidal.

Wolof  :  The Wolof are one of the largest people groups that inhabit modern-day Senegal. They live anywhere from the desert area of the Sahara to the rain forests. Traditionally many Wolof lived in small villages governed by an extended family unit but now most Wolof move to cities where they are able to get jobs.

Yoruba  :  The Yoruba people live in Southwest Nigeria and Benin. They have developed a variety of different artistic forms including pottery, weaving, beadwork, metalwork, and mask making.

Zulu  :  The Zulu are the largest ethnic group in South Africa. They are well known for their beautiful brightly colored beads and baskets as well as other small carvings.

History and Maps
Africa Country Information

Fables and Stories of Africa

Includes superstitions, myths  and tales of pro-creation

Traditional Foods and Drinks

Include some unusual foods and a recipe or two

    Culture and Traditions

Concerning status, marriage, birth, death

   How did Africans ?

Make fire, rope, clothes, huts, etc.?

Tribes and Traditions

Basic information on 115 tribes in Africa

Traditional Medicinal uses of Plants

Wildlife and Plants of Africa

Learn about our mammals, insects, reptiles,  plants and everything else

that make Africa so special, more than 260 entries!

Introduction        Art & Craft         Music & Dance         African Weddings

African Festivals & Events        People & Culture Photographs




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