European ethnic groups

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This article deals with the European people as an ethnic group or ethnic groups. For information about residents or nationals of Europe, see Demography of Europe. For information on other uses please see disambiguation page: European

The European peoples are the various nations and ethnic groups of Europe.

European Ethnology is the field of cultural anthropology focusing on Europe.

Ethnic groups of Europe

see Category:Ethnic groups in Europe
Languages of Europe no legend

                        North Germanic                     West Germanic
                        Western Romance      Italian / Southern Romance
    Eastern Romance      Basque
                        East Slavic                     West Slavic
              South Slavic
    Greek      Albanian      Armenian      Iranian
              Finno-Permic      Hungarian      Ob-Ugric
    Caucasian      Turkic      Kalmyk      Arabic / Maltese      Berber

Of the total population of Europe of some 730 million (as of 2005), some 85% or 630 million fall within three large ethno-linguistic super-groups, viz., Slavic, Latin (Romance) and Germanic. The largest groups that do not fall within either of these are the Greeks and the Hungarians (about 13 million each). About 20-25 million residents are members of diasporas of non-European origin. The population of the European Union with some 500 million accounts for two thirds of European population.

The largest ethnic group of Europe are probably the Russians with some 90 million settling in the European parts of Russia, followed by the Germans (69 million), French (63 million), Italians (58 million), English (45 million), Spanish (42 million), Ukrainians (40 million) and the Poles (38 million).

Depending on what parts of the Caucasus are considered part of Europe, various peoples of the Caucasus may also be considered "European peoples":

"Indigenous" minorities

Since most of Europe in historical times was never colonized by non-European powers with lasting effect (arguably except for Hungary, Turkish Thrace and islands such as Malta or Cyprus[1]), the vast majority of Europeans can be considered "indigenous". In a more narrow sense of "indigenous peoples", ethnic minorities marginalized by historical expansion of their neighbour populations, the following groups can be considered "indigenous peoples" of Europe:

Physical appearance and genetic origins

The vast majority of Europeans are of the "Caucasoid" (White) typological race, characterized by lightly pigmented skin and variability in eye and hair colour [2], although typological division into races has now largely been discredited. There has been human habitation in Europe for over a million years,[3] [4] but humans with a recognisably modern anatomy can only be dated back to 40,000 years ago, with the Cro magnon settlement. Over the prehistoric period there was continual immigration to Europe, notably with the neolithic revolution.[5] It is probable that the origins of Cro Magnon man can be traced back to ancestors in East Africa. [6]

European diasporas

Nations and regions outside of Europe with significant populations of European ancestry:

Individual diasporas:

Diasporas in Europe

Populations of non-European origin in Europe:

  • Turks: approx. 5 million, mostly in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Austria
  • North Africans (Arabs ans Berbers): approx. 5 million, mostly in France, the Netherlands and Sweden
  • African diaspora (many ethnicities): approx. 5 million, mostly in France, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany [7]
  • Latin Americans (mainly mestizos): approx. 2.2 million, with the largest groups in Spain and Italy[8]
  • Indians (many ethnicities): approx. 2 million, mostly in the UK (see also Hinduism in Europe)
  • Armenians (sometimes considered European, see above): approx. 1.5 million
  • Kurds: approx. 1.5 million, mostly in Germany
  • Chinese: approx. 1 million, mostly in France, the UK and the Netherlands
  • Pakistanis: approx. 900,000, mostly in the UK
  • Filipinos: approx. 500,000, mostly in Italy, the UK, France and Germany
  • Syriacs: approx. 130,000
  • Japanese: ca. 100,000, mostly in the UK

European identity and culture

The culture of Europe might better be described as a series of overlapping cultures. Whether it is a question of West as opposed to East; Christianity as opposed to Islam; many have claimed to identify cultural fault lines across the continent.

European culture also has a broad influence beyond the continent of Europe due to the legacy of colonialism. In this broader sense it is sometimes referred to as Western Civilization. Nearly all of the Americas and all of Africa were ruled by European powers at one time or another, and some parts of the New World, such as French Guiana, still are. The vast majority of the population of the Americas speak European languages, specifically Spanish, English, Portuguese, French and to a much lesser extent Dutch. Additionally the cultures of the European colonial powers (Spain, Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium and France) exert a strong influence.

Pan-European identity refers to both the sense of personal identification with Europe, and to the identity possessed by 'Europe' as a whole. 'Europe' is widely used as a synonym for the European Union even though there are millions of people living on the European continent in non-EU states. The prefix pan implies that the identity applies throughout Europe, and especially in an EU context, 'pan-European' is often contrasted with national.


Europe religion map en

Predominant religions in Europe

Since the High Middle Ages, most of Europe has been dominated by Christianity. There are three major denominations, Roman Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox, with Protestantism restricted mostly to Germanic regions, and Orthodoxy to Slavic regions and Greece. Catholicism, while centered in the Latin parts, has a significant following also in Germanic, Slavic and Celtic regions.

Islam has some tradition in the Balkans (the European dominions of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th to 19th centuries), in Albania, Former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Turkish East Thrace, as well as among the Tatars and Chechens of Russia. With 20th century migrations, Muslims in Western Europe have become a noticeable minority.

Judaism has a long history in Europe, but remains a small minority religion, with France (1%) the only European country with a Jewish population in excess of 0.5%. The Jewish population of Europe is comprised primarily of two groups, the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi. Ashkenazi Jews migrated to Europe as early as the 8th century, while Sephardi Jews established themselves in Spain and Portugal at least one thousand years before that.

In modern times, significant secularization has taken place, notably in laicist France in the 19th century and in Communist Eastern Europe in the 20th century. Currently, distribution of theism in Europe is very heterogeneous, with more than 80% in Poland, and less than 20% in the Czech Republic. On average, the 2005 Eurobarometer poll[9] found that 52% of the citizens of EU member state that they believe in God.


Further reading

  • Cole, J. W., Wolf, E. R., The Hidden Frontier: Ecology and Ethnicity in an Alpine Valley, University of California Press; (1999), ISBN 978-0520216815.
  • Dow, R. R., Bockhorn, O., The Study of European Ethnology in Austria, Progress in European Ethnology, Ashgate Publishing (2004), ISBN 978-0754617471.
  • Jordan, T. G., The European culture area: A systematic geography (2nd ed.). New York: Harper and Row (1988).
  • Parman, S. (ed.), Europe in the Anthropological Imagination, Prentice Hall (1998).

External links

See also

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