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Polygyny is more widespread in Africa than in any other continent, especially in West Africa, and some scholars see the slave trade's impact on the male-to-female sex ratio as a key factor in the emergence and fortification of polygynous practices in regions of Africa.

In sociobiology and zoology, researchers use polygamy in a broad sense to mean any form of multiple mating.

If a marriage includes multiple husbands and wives, it can be called a group marriage.

In contrast, monogamy is marriage consisting of only two parties.

This constitutes a form of de facto polygyny referred to as concubinage.

Marriage is the moment at which a new household is formed, but different arrangements may occur depending upon the type of marriage and some polygamous marriages do not result in the formation of a single household.

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