African Ethnicities and Their Origins

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This is a companion piece to Tracing DNA Not Just to Africa but to 1 Tribe.

Advancements in DNA research have shed light on the multifaceted makeup and origins of today's African Americans. In fact, most of today's African-American population can trace their ancestry back to one of just 46 ethnic groups. Three large regions of Atlantic Africa were the major contributors to the slave trade: Upper Guinea, including the modern countries of Senegal, Mali, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia; Lower Guinea, including the southern portions of eastern Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria; and West Central Africa, which encompassed mostly the western portions of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.


Here are the African tribes from which most of today's African Americans come.

Groups                                                             Location Today          

Wolof                                                               Senegal

Mandinka                                                         Senegal, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Gambia,
                                                                        Ivory Coast, Niger, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau

Serer                                                                Senegal, Gambia

Fulbe/Fulani/Peulh/Fula                                  Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea,
                                                                         Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia,
                                                                         Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon 


Jola                                                                   Gambia, Guinea

Balanta                                                              Sierra Leone


Falupo                                                                Sierra Leone

Mende                                                               Sierra Leone

Susu                                                                  Sierra Leone


Nalu                                                                   Sierra Leone

Bran                                                                   Sierra Leone


Kru                                                                    Liberia

Kpele                                                                 Liberia

Balanta                                                            Guinea-Bissau                                               


Biafara                                                             Guinea-Bissau

Temne                                                              Guinea-Bissau

Akan/Asante/Fanti                                            Ivory Coast/Ghana

Ga                                                                    Ghana

Ewe                                                                  Ghana/Togo/Benin


Fon                                                                  Benin

Yoruba                                                             Nigeria/Benin

Gurma                                                             Ghana

Dagomba                                                         Ghana

Mahi                                                                Benin

Bariba                                                              Benin

Hausa                                                              Nigeria

Ibo/Igbo                                                           Nigeria

Ijaw (Ijo)                                                          Nigeria

Efik                                                                   Nigeria

Igala                                                                 Nigeria

Kalabari                                                            Nigeria

Itsekiri                                                             Nigeria

Ibibio                                                               Nigeria, Cameroon


Edo                                                                  Nigeria

Duala                                                               Cameroon

Tikar                                                                Cameroon

Bamun                                                             Cameroon

Bamileke                                                          Cameroon

Teke                                                                Democratic Republic
                                                                       of Congo (DRC)


Yaka                                                                DRC

Chokwe                                                           DRC, Angola

Lunda                                                              DRC, Angola

Kongo                                                              DRC, Angola

Luba                                                                DRC

Luchaze                                                           Zambia, Angola

Mbundu                                                           Angola

Ovimbundu                                                      Angola