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20 Most Diverse Countries in Asia

In this article, we will list the 20 most diverse countries in Asia. If you want to skip our discussion about diversity in the United States and its benefits, go to the 5 Most Diverse Countries in Asia.

The United States is one of the most diverse countries, as there is a 52% (as of 2013, according to the Historical Index of Ethic Fractionalization) probability that two people selected at random in the country belong to different ethnicities. It is also on its way to becoming a majority-minority country, where there will be as many minority residents as there are majority residents.

According to current projections, non-Hispanic whites will make less than 50% of the US population by 2044. It is the top migrant country in the world, where thousands of immigrants find their homes every year. Nearly four out of ten residents in the country identify with a nonwhite race.

Foreign-born essential workers increased to 19.8 million in 2022. Collectively, these migrant workers have a spending power of $1.3 trillion, and so they are one of the primary drivers of economic growth. This growing diversity is essential for the country, as it has an aging population. So,  immigrant flow and population growth are important for retaining the prime-age working population in the United States.

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Despite the importance of diversity, Americans express differing views on the subject. According to Pew research, majority of the population (64%) is indifferent about diversity as it perceives the long-term growth of racial and ethnic diversity as neither good nor bad for the country. In addition, a significant minority of 11% perceive this long-term diversity growth negatively.

Only about 24% of US residents look favorably over the increasing diversity. However, despite this, most Americans (66%) are satisfied with the racial mix of their area. In addition, black Americans place a higher value on workspace diversity and school integration compared to other ethnicities. School integration is the term used for promoting racially and ethnically mixed classrooms in schools.

Numerous studies have found a positive relationship between diversity and inclusion and economic growth. The French government concluded in 2015 that it would gain 150 billion Euros or 6.9% of its GDP by improving the accessibility of minorities and women. Studies have also shown that diversity and inclusion also has a positive impact on a company's profitability. This is demonstrated in the 'Diversity Matters Even More' report by McKinsey & Company. It is the fourth in a series of reports by the consultancy firm to investigate the business case for diversity.

According to the report, companies that fall in the top quartile of ethnic representation have a 39% increased likelihood of outperformance compared to those in the bottom quartile. The report also makes a strong case for gender diversity as companies with more than 30% women representation were found to be significantly more likely to financially outperform those with less representation. It also stresses the importance of diversity in top positions, as those in the top quartile for gender and ethnic diversity in executive teams were found to be 9% more likely to outperform others. Meanwhile, those in the bottom quartile for gender and ethnic diversity in executive teams are 66% less likely to outperform their peers.

Many companies understand the importance of diversity. Mastercard, Inc. (NYSE:MA) is one of the companies that is committed to nurturing diversity and maintaining an equitable workforce. Mastercard, Inc. (NYSE:MA) also emphasizes equal pay, and as of 2021, women in the company earn a dollar for every dollar that men earn. Mastercard, Inc. (NYSE:MA) also offers practical employee benefits to cater to diversity in all forms. Some of these benefits include coverage for sex reassignment surgery and surrogacy.

Some companies like Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) are at the forefront of promoting diversity. Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has committed $100 million to its Racial Justice Initiative. As part of this initiative, Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) also announced a new Apple Developer Academy in Detroit, which aims at helping African Americans acquire coding skills.

We have previously looked at the least diverse countries in the world. However, in this list, we will focus on the most diverse countries in Asia. There are six distinct geographic segregations of the continent with each having its own unique racial characteristics. These geographical divisions are Central Asia, East Asia, North Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and West Asia. The most prominent ethnic groups in central Asia are Uzebks, Kazakhs, Tajik, Turkmen, and Kyrgyz. Korean, Han, and Yamoto make up the major ethnic groups in Central Asia.

We that backdrop, let's look at the most diverse countries in Asia. 

20 Most Diverse Countries in Asia
20 Most Diverse Countries in Asia

CRS PHOTO/Shutterstock.com

Methodology 

For our list of the 20 most diverse countries in Asia, we consulted the Historical Index of Ethnic Fractionalization (HIEF), made available publicly by Harvard Dataverse. The index mentions the ethnic fractionalization of countries from 1945 to 2013. Ethnic fractionalization refers to the probability that two people selected at random in the country will belong to different ethnicities. So, the higher this figure, the more ethnically diverse the country is. For our article, we used 2013 figures as these were the latest. It is also worth noting that the index did not include some major Asian countries such as India. All the ethnic fractionalization figures on our list are rounded to the nearest percentage.

By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that tracks the movements of corporate insiders and hedge funds. By using a similar consensus approach we identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). Whether you are a beginner investor or a professional looking for the best stocks to buy you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders.

20 - Taiwan 

Ethnic Fractionalization - 37%

Taiwan is one of the most diverse countries in Asia. While its population is predominantly Han Chinese, there are 16 officially recognized indigenous tribes in the country. According to the Taiwanese government, these tribes represent more than 2.5% of the population in the country. The Han Chinese people living in Taiwan belong to two major subgroups: the Hokkien (native Taiwanese) and Haka, who migrated to the country from China’s Guangdong province.

19 - Israel

Ethnic Fractionalization - 38%

Israel is one of the few countries where the majority of the people or their parents were born in other countries. Jews constitute the largest religious group in the country and belong to varying ethnicities. They migrated to the country from Eastern and Western Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa, and Latin America. More than one-fifth of the population in the country consists of Arabs, most of which are Muslim.

18 - Singapore

Ethnic Fractionalization - 40%

Singapore is 18th on our list of the 20 most diverse countries in Asia. The country has a history of considerable migration in the past, with Chinese making up for three-fourths of the population. The second largest ethnic group in the country is Malays. In addition, at least four official languages are recognized in the country: English, Singaporean Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil.

17 - Iraq

Ethnic Fractionalization - 45%

Arabs and Kurds are the major ethnicities in Iraq. Its Arab population is divided into Shi'i Muslims and Sunni Muslims. Kurds are arguably the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East, following Arabs, Turks, and Persians.

16 - Turkey

Ethnic Fractionalization - 52%

With an ethnic fractionalization of 52%, Turkey is as diverse as the United States. However, different ethnicities are genetically closely related. While the majority of the population are Turks, Kurds, Zaza Kurds, Circassians, Bosniaks, Georgians, Albanians, and Arabs make up the major minority ethnicities. More than 72% of the country's population is Turk, while Kurds and Zaza Kurds make up more than 16%.

15 - Kazakhstan 

Ethnic Fractionalization - 54%

Kazakhstan is 15th on our list of the 20 most diverse countries in Asia. The country's majority people are Kazakhs, while some ethnicities common to Russia form a significant minority at more than 20% of the population. Other significant ethnic minorities in the country include Uzbek, Ukrainian, Uhigur, Tatar, and German.

14 - Malaysia

Ethnic Fractionalization - 57%

With an ethnic fractionalization of 57%, Malaysia is one of the most diverse countries in Asia. The majority of its population consists of three ethnic groups, namely Malays, Chinese, and Indians. In addition, its Sabah state consists of 32 ethnic groups (as per the Malaysian government), with a major group being Kadazandusun.

13 - Bahrain

Ethnic Fractionalization - 58%

Bahrain is one of the most diverse countries in Asia. Around half of the people in the country are expatriate laborers, primarily from South Asia.

12 - Oman

Ethnic Fractionalization - 60%

With an ethnic fractionalization of 60%, Oman is the 12th most diverse country in Asia. While more than half of its population is Arab, the country has a large number of Baloch migrants from Iran and Pakistan. Other ethnicities in the country include Bengali, Persian, and Tamil people.

11 - Laos

Ethnic Fractionalization - 63%

Laos is 11th on our list of the 20 most diverse countries in Asia. The Loas government officially recognizes 49 ethnic groups with 160 ethnic subgroups.

10 - Bhutan

Ethnic Fractionalization - 65%

Bhutan is one of the top 10 most diverse countries in Asia. 98% of its population is made up of Ngalong, Sharchop, Kheng, and Nepali speakers. Other ethnic groups that form a small minority in the country include Brokpa, Doya, Lepcha, and Tibetans.

9 - United Arab Emirates

Ethnic Fractionalization - 68%

The United Arab Emirates is the 9th most diverse country in Asia. Some of the major ethnic groups in the country include Emirati, South Asians, Egyptians, and Filipinos.

8 - Qatar

Ethnic Fractionalization - 71%

Qatar is 8th on our list of the most diverse countries in Asia. Arabs collectively make up 40% of the total population in the country. In addition, Qatar has a significant minority of Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos, Nepalis, and Sri Lankans, who together make up more than 50% of the population.

7 - Iran

Ethnic Fractionalization - 74%

Iran is one of the most diverse countries in Asia. While the predominant ethnic group in Iran consists of Persian-speaking people, they generally have a mixed ancestry. Some of the minorities in the country include Kurds and Balochs. A small percentage of Afghans also live in the country.

6 - Pakistan

Ethnic Fractionalization - 75%

While the most dominant ethnic group in Pakistan is Punjabi, the country has many other ethnicities as significant minorities. The country is an ethnic majority minority as more than half of its population is composed of ethnic minorities. Pashtun are the most significant ethnic minority followed by Sindhis, Saraiki, and Balochs. In addition, there are many subgroups within its ethnicities that regard themselves as ethnically distinct. Punjabis, for example, include Arains, Jats, and Rajputs, among others.

Click to continue reading and see the 5 Most Diverse Countries in Asia.

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Disclosure: none. 20 Most Diverse Countries in Asia is originally published on Insider Monkey.