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Famous List of African Tribes and Ethnic Groups

African tribes are the largest tribe in the entire world and have been known based on their diversity in terms of culture. The landmass of this continent is large extending to both the Southern and Northern hemispheres. As a result of this, the continent is the second-largest in the world, and it has been colonized by different countries from the Western world such as France, English, Portugal, Spain, and many others.

For over 300 years, this continent was colonized by other countries. Currently, it has been approximated that a total number of 50 African countries have gotten independent. In terms of population, they have contributed 16% of the world’s population that comprises 1.2 billion people. Africa has approximately 54 countries with 3000 tribes. A typical example of these African tribes can be seen in South Africa having 11 official languages, and this has shown the vibrant cultures of Africa.

Travelers who have pleasure in traveling on Africa’s plains do get in touch with these numerous African tribes. The different landmasses in Africa have been covered by different documentary filmmakers, researchers, tourists, and many others to have an in-depth understanding of these African tribes. This continent has been known for infinite variety with something that distinguishes it from other continents. We are going to see the largest African tribes in different cardinal points in Africa.

African Tribes

The following are the African tribes, and here they are:

1.     East:

The commencement of the Rift Valley began in Ethiopia leaving the South through Tanzania and Kenya. The Eastern parts of Africa are landlocked areas such as Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi. East Africa is well known for its wildlife conservation, and this is one of the geographical regions visited by Western tourists. The numerous plains are the abode for both herds and predators. The Eastern people are regarded as conservationists who like to preserve the things they possess. There are three major African tribes are:

  • Hamai
  • Maasai
  • Hadzabe

I. Hamai:

The tribe is found in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia with fascinating or captivating terrains. The people of Hamai dwell in this fertile Valley where they rear their cattle due to lots of vegetations in this region. During the festive period, they perform bull-jumping ceremony, and this particular ceremony attracts travelers from other tribes who come to have an experience of this event.

II. Maasai:

This is the highly recognized out of all the African tribes in Eastern Africa. They are deeply involved in cattle herding since they are mostly nomadic people. As a result of these diets involve meat and dairy products. Kenya is the country having a large number of this Maasai tribe, and most of these people live close to game parks. The Maasai stand a chance of meeting with foreigners who come to visit the game parks. The total population of this tribe has increased geometrically to 900,000 people.

Read also: The Masai Mara Tribe Facts, Cultures and History

III. Hadzabe:

These are the last true nomads who are into hunting in Eastern Africa. Most of their hunting activities are being done using arrow and bow. The women go in search of fruits, and berries (edible berries). Travelers who love exploration can travel around this place to experience their culture. Inside this Hadzabe tribe, there are other African tribes among them such as Pygmies and Datoga tribes. The latter tribe is into the manufacturing of weapons in which they sell to the Hadzabe tribe.

2. North:

This part of Africa comprises of different countries residing close to the Mediterranean regions. They share boundaries with the Sahara desert and this makes them experience a dry climate. There are numerous people with different cultures in this region, and people living in this part of Africa are nomadic. Most of the occupations common amongst the people are cattle herders. We are going to see three major African tribes here, and they are:

  • Dogon
  • Tuareg
  • Bedouin

I. Dogon:

This is one of the African tribes having a population between 400,000 to 800,000 people. They are found in several villages in Burkina Faso and Central Plateau of Mali. The dialect they speak was derived from Niger-Congo. This African tribe left the Northern part of Africa to avoid being Islamized. The people of Dogon are mainly traditional worshippers, but some of them are converting to Christians, Muslims, and other religions. They have been able to get recognition due to their astronomical knowledge, arts, and artifacts. Their major occupation is growing crops, and rearing livestock.

 

II. Tuareg:

This is the largest tribe to emerge from the ethnic group of Berber. The Tuareg tribe is one of the African tribes occupying a large area of the landmass of the Sahara desert. Since they are nomadic pastoralists, they travel with their livestock and cattle from different parts of this Mediterranean desert in search of water and food for their animals. The people of Tuareg can be seen in countries such as Morocco, Niger, Algeria, and Libya.

III. Bedouin:

The Bedouin people are nomadic people who originated from Arabian living in the North-Eastern part of Africa. Apart from emerging from Arab, they have been able to enlarge their territories to other countries such as Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula. The tribe ‘Bedouin’ was derived from an Arabic word known as ‘badawi’, and this connotes desert dwellers. Their major religion is Islam, and they also involve in rearing livestock such as camels, goats, and cows.

3. South:

In the Southern part of Africa, we have two countries that were colonized by the Portuguese such as Angola and Mozambique. The British colonized most of the English speaking countries in this region such as Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. The most developed countries in Southern Africa are South Africa and Namibia. A country like Botswana is known for its mineral resources and wildlife conservation. We are going to see three different African tribes here:

  • San
  • Zulu
  • Himba

I. San:

The San people are commonly called the Bushmen of the Kahalari. They have skills use in surviving in desert lands, and the same skill is being used in hunting animals. Based on their undisputable skills with bows and arrows for fighting their enemies during warfare, they also conquered predators. They go in search of underground crops such as fruits, and berries. This tribe can be seen in the Southern African countries such as Angola, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. The slight differences amongst this San tribe found in these countries are in their languages.

II. Zulu:

The Zulu people are found in South Africa, and their total population has been approximated to be around 10 million. In the early 19th century, this tribe was a force to reckon with alongside the Shaka’s kingdom. The language they speak is one of the official languages in South Africa, and they live in KwaZulu-Natal located on the Indian Ocean coast of South Africa.

III. Himba:

This is one of the smallest African tribes living in Northern Namibia and Angola. They have increased in their population to around 50,000. The kind of lifestyle the Himba people live is semi-nomadic with people migrating from one place to another searching for greener pastures for their livestock (cattle). The language of these people is gotten from the Bantu family from the Niger-Congo group.

4. West:

The western part of Africa comprises Atlantic coastal countries heading from the South to Mauritania, turning the West through Nigeria and to central Africa (Cameroon), and into the Equatorial forest region. The largest African tribes in this region are:

  • Yoruba
  • Ashanti
  • Mbenga

I. Yoruba:

The highest percentage of this tribe can be found in the South-Western part of Nigeria. They have a total population of approximately 40 million people, and this had made them the largest tribe you can find in the Western part of Africa. For instance, in Lagos, the major tribe existing in this region is Yoruba, and this influences the mode if lifestyle, dressing, food, and other things in this city.

II. Ashanti:

This tribe can be traced back to Ghana having a population of around 9 million people. The Ashanti have the type of language they speak and this is being derived from their colonial master. The people of Ashanti can speak and understand the English language fluently. The type of religion in Ashanti cuts across supernatural and spiritual with their past ancestors. A typical example of where this religion can be seen is in rural areas.

III. Mbenga:

Mbenga tribe can be found in the West Congo Basin, and they are well known to have emerged from the Pygmy ethnic group. The Mbengans have two different languages they speak which are Bantu and Ubangian. When it has to do with the type of occupation of this African tribe, they are largely hunters depending on the forest for their survival. They like trade and barter in order to possess things that don’t have in their territories, and Historians have suggested about have a million lived in the Congo rainforest.

Conclusion:

Africa is one of the continents in the world with diverse cultures. In every part of this continent, there are adventures for tourists to learn something new, and to this point, most foreigners view it as a rural continent still to be fully developed.

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