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Indigenous peoples of Europe

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Indigenous peoples of Europe

"Europeans" redirects here. For European population statistics, see demography of Europe. For the "European race", see white people.

The ethnic groups in Europe are the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. European ethnology is the field of anthropology focusing on Europe.

Pan and Pfeil (2004) count 87 distinct "peoples of Europe", of which 33 form the majority population in at least one sovereign state, while the remaining 54 constitute ethnic minorities. The total number of national minority populations in Europe is estimated at 105 million people, or 14% of 770 million Europeans.[1]

There is no precise or universally accepted definition of the terms "ethnic group" or "nationality". In the context of European ethnography in particular, the terms ethnic group, people (without nation state), nationality, national minority, ethnic minority, linguistic community, linguistic group and linguistic minority are used as mostly synonymous, although preference may vary in usage with respect to the situation specific to the individual countries of Europe.[2]


Further information: Demographics of Europe

There are eight peoples of Europe (defined by their language) with more than 30 million members residing in Europe:

  1. the Russians (ca. 95 million residing in Europe),[3]
  2. the Germans (ca. 82 million),[4]
  3. the French (ca. 65 million)[5]
  4. the Italians (ca. 56 - 61 million)[note 1]
  5. the British (55 - 61 million)[note 2]
  6. the Spanish (ca. 47 million),[6]
  7. the Ukrainians (ca. 41 million),
  8. the Poles (ca. 38 million).

These eight groups between themselves account for some 465 million or about 65% of European population.

About 20-25 million residents (3%) are members of diasporas of non-European origin. The population of the European Union, with some five hundred million residents, accounts for two thirds of the European population.

Both Spain and the UK are special cases, in that the designation of nationality, Spanish and British, may controversially take ethnic aspects, subsuming various regional ethnic groups, see nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain and native populations of the United Kingdom. Switzerland is a similar case, but the linguistic subgroups of the Swiss are not usually discussed in terms of ethnicity, and Switzerland is considered a "multi-lingual state" rather than a "multi-ethnic state".

Linguistic classifications

Further information: Languages of Europe

Of the total population of Europe of some 730 million (as of 2005), over 80% or some 600 million fall within three large branches of Indo-European languages, viz., Slavic, Latin (Romance) and Germanic. The largest groups that do not fall within either of these are the Greeks (about 12 million ) and the Albanians (about 8 million). Beside the Indo-European languages there are two other major language families on the European continent: Turkic languages and Uralic languages. The Semitic languages that dominate the coast of the northern Africa as well as the Near East are preserved on the Malta islands, a Mediterranean archipelago. The Basque language is a linguistic isolate unrelated to any other languages inside or outside of Europe.

Family Branch People Sub-groups and minority languages approx. number (millions)[8] notes
Indo-European Indo-European **641
Indo-Europeans Slavic Europe *235
Indo-Europeans Slavic, East Russians Pomors, Cossacks[dubious ] 95 82 in European Russia,[9] 8.3 in Ukraine,[10] 0.7 in Belarus,[11] 1 in the Baltic States,[12][13][14] 0.3 in Moldova and Transnistria;[15][16] up to 0.5 in the Russian communities throughout the EU, especially in Germany[17]
Indo-Europeans Slavic, East Ukrainians Rusyns[dubious ], Boykos, Hutsuls, Lemkos, Poleszuks 41 37.5 million in Ukraine;[10] 2 million in European Russia[9]
Indo-Europeans Slavic, West Poles 38
Indo-Europeans Slavic, South Bulgarians Pomaks 012[18][19][20][21][22][23] Total speakers worldwide
Indo-Europeans Slavic, West Czechs 11
Indo-Europeans Slavic, East Belarusians 10
Indo-Europeans Slavic, South Serbs 012[24] Total speakers worldwide
Indo-Europeans Slavic, South Croats Bunjevci, Šokci 08.0[25]
Indo-Europeans Slavic, West Slovaks 05
Indo-Europeans Slavic, South Bosniaks 02.3[26]
Indo-Europeans Slavic, South Slovenes 02
Indo-Europeans Slavic, West Silesians 01.9
Indo-Europeans Slavic, South Macedonians Torbeš 01.6
Indo-Europeans Slavic, South Montenegrins 0.6
Indo-Europeans Slavic, West Kashubs 0.5
Indo-Europeans Slavic, West Sorbs 0.06
Indo-Europeans Latin (Romance) Europe *190
Indo-Europeans Latin, Western Francophonie French, Walloons, Romands, Provencals, Occitans, Aranese 72
Indo-Europeans Latin, Western Italians Sammarinese people, Swiss Italians, Istrian Italians, Dalmatian Italians, Corsican 61
Indo-Europeans Latin, Western Spaniards Castilians; non-Castilian ethno-linguistic groups: Andalusians, Asturians, Aragonese, Galicians, Catalans 40
Indo-Europeans Latin, Eastern Romanians (Vlachs) Daco-Romanians, Moldovans, Megleno-Romanians, Istro-Romanians, Aromanians, Morlachs, Moravian Vlachs 24-26
Indo-Europeans Latin, Western Portuguese 12
Indo-Europeans Latin, Eastern Rhaeto-Romanics Romansh, Ladins 0.6
Indo-Europeans Latin, Western Gibraltarians 0.03 (Speak English mainly as first language) Also summed under White British
Indo-Europeans Germanic Europe *180
Indo-Europeans Germanic, West, Continental German-speaking Europe Germans, Austrians, Alemannic Swiss, Luxembourgers, Alsatians, Lorrainers, South Tyroleans, German-speaking Belgians, North Schleswigers 89
Indo-Europeans Germanic, West, North Sea English 45[27] also subsumed under British or White British.
Indo-Europeans Germanic, West, Continental Dutch people Netherlandic, Flemish people 23
Indo-Europeans Germanic, North Scandinavians Norwegians, Swedes, Finland Swedes, Gotlanders, Danes, Faroese, Icelanders 22
Indo-Europeans Germanic, West, North Sea Frisians 00.5
Indo-Europeans Indo-Iranian 05
Indo-Europeans Indo-Aryan Romani people 04[28]
Indo-Europeans Iranian Ossetians 0.6
Indo-Europeans Iranian Tats 0.02
Indo-Europeans Celtic Europe *002-22 approx. 2 million speakers of Celtic languages, but depending on the definition, some 20 million may be considered "Celtic"
Indo-Europeans Celtic, Goidelic Irish Gaeltacht 06 All but 10 - 20,000 speak English as a first language. Some living in Northern Ireland can also subsumed under British or White British.
Indo-Europeans Celtic, Goidelic Scots Gàidhealtachd 06 also subsumed under British or White British.
Indo-Europeans Celtic, Brythonic Welsh 03[29] UK, does not include Welsh in USA and elsewhere, also subsumed under British or White British.
Indo-Europeans Celtic, Brythonic Bretons 04.3[30][note 3][31][note 4] Bretagne and Loire-Atlantique provinces of France, does not include Bretons in Canada and elsewhere, also subsumed under French.
Indo-Europeans Celtic, Brythonic Cornish 00.5[32] UK, does not include Cornish in Australia and elsewhere, also subsumed under British or White British.
Indo-Europeans Celtic, Goidelic Manx 0.04 also subsumed under British or White British.
Indo-Europeans Greek Greeks Pontic Greeks, Greek Cypriots 17[33] Total speakers worldwide
Indo-Europeans Albanian Albanians 07.6[34] Total speakers worldwide
Indo-Europeans Armenian Armenians 5.6 [35] Total speakers worldwide; depends on what part of the Southern Caucasus is considered European, see below.
Indo-Europeans Baltic 04.5
Indo-Europeans Lithuanians Samogitians, Prussian Lithuanians 03.1
Indo-Europeans Latvians Latgalians, Kursenieki 01.4
Turkic Turkic *035
Turkic peoples Turkic, Oghuz Turks Chepni, Yörüks, Bulgarian Turks, Turks of Western Thrace 9 (excluding Turkey)
19 (including European Turkey)
approx. 9 million (not including Turkey),[36] 10 million in Eastern Thrace (European Turkey); overall there is a total of 55-60 million Turks in Turkey.[37] (see Turks in Europe)
Turkic peoples Turkic, Oghuz Azerbaijanis 9.16 in European Azerbaijan only[9]
Turkic peoples Turkic, Kipchak Kazakhs 1 in European Kazakhstan only[9]
Turkic peoples Turkic, Kipchak Volga Tatars 4.5 in European Russia only[9]
Turkic peoples Turkic, Oghur Chuvash 01.5 in European Russia only[9]
Turkic peoples Turkic, Kipchak Bashkirs 01.4 in European Russia only[9]
Turkic peoples Turkic, Kipchak Kumyks 00.4[9]
Turkic peoples Turkic, Kipchak Karachay-Balkars Karachays, Balkars 00.3[9]
Turkic peoples Turkic, Kipchak / Oghuz Crimeans Tat Tatars, Yaliboyu Tatars, Noğay Tatars 0.25[10]
Turkic peoples Turkic, Oghuz Gagauz 0.15[16]
Turkic peoples Turkic, Kipchak Nogais 0.09[9]
Finno-Ugric Finno-Ugric *025.5
Finno-Ugric peoples Ugric Hungarians Hungarians, Székelys, Csangos 13.5
Finno-Ugric peoples Finnic, Finno-Lappic Finns Karelians, Sweden Finns, Ingrian Finns, Kven people 06
Finno-Ugric peoples Finnic, Finno-Lappic Estonians Setos, Võros 01
Finno-Ugric peoples Finnic, Volgaic Mordvins Erzya/Shoksha, Moksha, Teryukhan, Qaratay 0.85[9]
Finno-Ugric peoples Finnic, Permic Udmurts 0.7[9]
Finno-Ugric peoples Finnic, Volgaic Mari 0.6[9]
Finno-Ugric peoples Finnic, Permic Komi Komi-Izhemtsy, Komi-Permyaks 0.4[9]
Finno-Ugric peoples Finnic, Finno-Lappic Sami 0.1
Finno-Ugric peoples Finnic, Finno-Lappic Veps 0.008
Finno-Ugric peoples Finnic, Finno-Lappic Izhorians 0.001
Finno-Ugric peoples Finnic, Finno-Lappic Livonians 0.0001
Northern Caucasian Caucasian *05 depends on what part of the Caucasus is considered European, see below.
Caucasian Northeast Caucasian Chechens 1.3[9]
Caucasian Northeast Caucasian Avars 0.8[9]
Caucasian Northeast Caucasian Dargin 0.5[9]
Caucasian Northwest Caucasian Kabards 0.5[9]
Caucasian Northeast Caucasian Lezgins 0.4[9]
Caucasian Northeast Caucasian Ingush 0.4[9]
Caucasian Northwest Caucasian Adyghes 0.15[9]
Caucasian Northwest Caucasian Cherkesses 0.06[9]
Caucasian Northwest Caucasian Lak 0.15[9]
Caucasian Northwest Caucasian Tabasarans 0.13[9]
Caucasian Northeast Caucasian Rutuls 0.03[9]
Caucasian Northeast Caucasian Tsakhur people 0.01[9]
Kartvelian Caucasian *04 depends on what part of the Caucasus is considered European, see below.
Caucasian Kartvelian Georgians 4[9][38][38][39][40]
Semitic Semitic 2
Semitic Semitic, Hebrew Jews 1.3 also subsumed under various "Other", see below.
Semitic Semitic, Maltese Maltese 0.4
Basque Basque Basques 02.0[41]
Mongolic Mongolic Kalmyks 0.17[9]

Europe has a population of about 2 million ethnic Jews (mostly also counted as part of the ethno-linguistic group of their respective home countries):

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

By country

Pan and Pfeil (2002) distinguish 33 peoples which form the majority population in at least one[note 5] sovereign state geographically situated in Europe.[note 6] These majorities range from nearly homogeneous populations as in Albania or Poland, to comparatively slight majorities as in Latvia or Belgium. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro are multiethnic states in which no group forms a majority.

Country Majority % Regional majorities Other minorities[note 7]
Albania Albanians 95% Greeks ~3%,[42][43] other 2% (Vlachs, Romani, Macedonians, Bulgarians).[44]
Armenia Armenians 98% Yazidis 1.2%, Russians 0.4%, Assyrians 0.1%, Kurds 0.1%, others: Greeks, Ukrainians, Georgians (2011 census) Official statistics/data of RA.[45]
Austria Austrians 91.1% South Slavs 4% (includes Burgenland Croats, Carinthian Slovenes, Croats, Slovenes, Serbs and Bosniaks), Turks 1.6%, Germans 0.9%, and other or unspecified 2.4%. (2001 census)
Belarus Belarusians 81.2% Russians 11.4%, Poles 3.9%, Ukrainians 2.4%, and other 1.1%. (1999 census)
Belgium Flemings 58% Walloons 31%, Germans 1% mixed or other (i.e. Luxembourgers, Eastern or Southern Europeans, Africans and Asians, and Latin Americans) 10%.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosniaks 48%, Serbs 37.1% Croats 14.3% other 0.6% (2000)
Bulgaria Bulgarians 84% Turks 9% Roma 5%, Others 2% (including Russian, Armenian, Tatar, and Vlach). (2001 census)[46]
Croatia Croats 89.6% Serbs 4.5%, other 5.9% (including Bosniak, Hungarian, Slovene, Czech, Dalmatian Italians, Austrian-German, Romanian and Romani). (2001 census)
Czech Republic Czechs 90.4% Moravians 3.7% Slovaks 1.9%, and other 4%. (2001 census)
Denmark Danes 90%[47] Faroese other Scandinavian, Germans, Frisians, other European, Greenlandic people and others.
Estonia Estonians 67.9% Estonian Swedes Baltic Russians 25.6%, Ukrainians 2.1%, Belarusians 1.3%, Finns 0.9%, and other (Baltic Germans) 2.2%. (2000 census)
Finland Finns 93.4% Swedes 5.6%, Sami 0.1% Russians 0.5%, Estonians 0.3%, Romani 0.1% and Turks 0.05%. (2006)
France French 84% (includes sometimes considered as "regional groups" like Bretons, Corsicans, Occitans, Alsatians, Normans, Picards, Savoyards, Basques, Catalans and Flemings). other European 7%, North African 7%, Sub-Saharan African, Indochinese, Asian, Latin American and Pacific Islander.[48] French with recent immigrant background (at least one great-grandparent) 33%.[49][50]
Georgia Georgians 83.8% South Ossetians 0.9%, Abkhazians 0.1% Azeris 6.5%, Armenians 5.7%, Russian 1.5%, other: 2.5% (2002 census).[51]
Germany Germans 81%-91% [52] includes Bavarians, Swabians, Saxons, Frisians, Sorbs, Silesians, Saarland Germans, Polish-Germans and Schleswig-Holstein Danes). Germans without immigrant background 81%; Germans with immigrant background (including ethnic German repatriates and people of partial immigrant background) 10%; Foreigners 9%: Turks 2.1%, others 6.7% and non-European descent about 2 to 5%).[52]
Greece Greeks 93% includes linguistic minorities 3% Albanians 4%, and other (i.e. Aromanians/Megleno-Romanians, Cretan Turks and Macedonian/Greek Slavic 3%. (2001 census)[note 8]
Hungary Hungarians 92.3% Romani 1.9%, Germans 1.2%, other (i.e. Croats, Romanians, Bulgarians, Turks and Ruthenians) or unknown 4.6%. (2001 census)
Iceland Icelanders 94% other (non-native/immigrants - mainly Polish, Russian, Greek, Portuguese and Filipino) 6%.
Ireland Irish 87.4% Protestant Irish or Anglo-Irish other white (large numbers of Latvian, Polish and Ukrainian migration) 7.5%, Asian 1.3%, black 1.1%, mixed 1.1%, and unspecified (i.e. Ulster Scots and Irish Travellers) 1.6%. (2006 census)
Italy Italians 92.5% German-speakers in South Tyrol, French-speaking minority in Val d'Aosta and Sardinian-speakers in Sardinia.[53] Catalan, Ladin, Slovene, Arbëreshë and Greek minorities, other Europeans (mostly Romanians, Albanians, Ukrainians and Polish) 4%, North African Arabs 1% and others (i.e. Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Black African and Latin American) 2.5%.[54]
Kosovo Albanians 88% Serbs 7% other 5% (Bosniak, Gorani, Romani, Turk, Ashkali and Egyptians, and Macedonian).
Latvia Latvians 62.1%[55] Baltic Russians 26.9% Belarusian 3.3%, Ukrainian 2.2%, Polish 2.2%, Lithuanian 1.2%, Livonian (Finno-Estonian) 0.1% and other 2.0%. (2011)
Lithuania Lithuanians 83.5% Poles 6.74%, Russians 6.31%, Belorussians 1.23%, other (Lipka Tatars) 2.27% and Jews (Karaites and Yiddish-speaking) 0.01%. (2001 census)
Macedonia Macedonians 64.2% Albanians 25.2%, Turks 3.9% Romani 2.7%, Serbs 1.8%, and other (i.e. Greeks, Bulgarians, Romanians and Croats) 2.2%. (2002 census)
Malta Maltese 95.3%[56] Sporadic number of Maltese of Italian ancestry 4.5%.
Moldova Moldovans 75.8% Ukrainians 8.4%, Gagauz 4.4% Russians 5.9%, Romanians 2.1%, Bulgarians 1.9%, and other 1.3%. (2004 census)
Montenegro Montenegrins 44.98%, Serbs 28.73% Bosniaks 8.65%, Albanians 4.91%, and other (Croats, Greeks, Romani and Macedonians) 12,73%. (2011 census)
Netherlands Dutch 80.7% Frisians 3% other European Union nationals 5%, Indonesians 2.4%, Turks 2.2%, Surinamese 2%, Moroccans 2%, Netherlands Antilles & Aruban 0.8%, other 4.8% and Frisian-speaking dominant 0.01%. (2008 est.)
Norway Norwegians 85-87% [note 9] Sami 1.2 - 2.5%[note 10] Poles 1.4%. A variety of other ethnicities with background from 219 countries that together make up approximately 12% (Swedes, Pakistanis, Somalis, Iraqi Arabs and Kurds, Vietnamese, Germans, Lithuanians) (2012)[57]
Poland Poles 96.7% Germans 0.4%, Belarusians 0.1%, Ukrainians 0.1%, other and unspecified (i.e. Silesians, Prussian Lithuanians and Kashubians) 2.7%, and about 5,000 Polish Jews reported to reside in the country. (2002 census)
Portugal Portuguese 95% Portuguese Mirandese speakers 15.000~ (i.e. Mirandese language speakers) other 5% - European Union (i.e. Spanish, British, German, French, Romanians, Bulgarians and Hungarians) and non-EU nationals (i.e. Ukrainians, Moldavians, Russians, Serbs and Croats); Africans from Portuguese-speaking Africa, Brazilians, Chinese, Indians, Portuguese Gypsies.
Romania Romanians 89.5% Hungarians 6.6%, Romani 2.5%, Germans 0.3% Ukrainians 0.3%, Russians 0.2%, Turks 0.2%, other 0.4% and Jewish 0.1%. (2002 census)
Russia Russians 79.8% Tatars 3.8%, Kalmyks, Chechens, Circassians, Ossetians and others Ukrainians 2%, Bashkir 1.2%, Chuvash 1.1% and other or unspecified (Kazakhs, Nogais, Mordvins, Komi, Azerbaijanis and Armenians) 12.1%, and a total of 102 other nationalities. (2002 census, includes Asian Russia).[9]
Serbia[note 11] Serbs 82.9% Hungarians 3.9%, Romani 1.4%, Yugoslavs 1.1%, Bosniaks 1.8%, Montenegrin 0.9%, and other 8%. i.e. Macedonians, Slovaks, Romanians, Croats, Ruthenes, Germans and other. (2002 census, includes Kosovo).
Slovakia Slovaks 85.8% Hungarians 9.7% Romani 1.7%, Ruthenian/Ukrainian 1%, other and unspecified 1.8%. (2001 census)
Slovenia Slovenes 83.1% Serbs 2%, Croats 1.8%, Bosniaks 1.1%, other (Dalmatian Italians, ethnic Germans, Hungarians and Romanians) and/or unspecified 12%. (2002 census)
Spain Spaniards 89% Various nationalities or sub-ethnicities of the Spanish people, including Castilians and Leonese, Catalans/Valencians, Galicians and Basques. Gypsies, Jews, immigrant peoples (Latin Americans, Romanians, North Africans, sub-Saharan Africans, Chinese, Filipinos, Levant Arabs, and others).
Sweden Swedes 88% Finns (Tornedalians), Sami people foreign-born or first-generation immigrants: Finns (Sweden-Finns), Yugoslavs, Danes, Norwegians, Russians, Syriacs, Greeks, Turks, Iranians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Thais, Koreans and Chileans.[58][59]
Switzerland Swiss 79% regional linguistic subgroups, including the Alamannic German-speakers, the Romand French-speakers, the Italian-speakers and Romansh people (see Romansh language). Balkans (Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks or Albanians) 6%, Italians 4%, Portuguese 2%, Germans 1.5%, Turks 1%, Spanish 1% and Ukrainians 0.5%.
Ukraine Ukrainians 77.8% Russians 17.3% Belarusians 0.6%, Moldovans 0.5%, Crimean Tatars 0.5%, Bulgarians 0.4%, Hungarians 0.3%, Romanians 0.3%, Poles 0.3%, Jews 0.2%, Armenians 0.1% and other 1.8%. (2001 census)
United Kingdom White British >85%[note 12] (consisting of English: c 75-80% Scottish: 8.0%, Welsh: 4.5%, Northern Irish: 2.8%, also Cornish, Manx, Romani and Channel Islanders). Included are the inhabitants of Gibraltar. Black British, Asian British often consists of South Asian and East Indian peoples, Chinese British, various other Commonwealth Citizens and other Europeans.


Prehistoric populations

The Basques are assumed to descend from the populations of the Atlantic Bronze Age directly.[60] The Indo-European groups of Europe (the Centum groups plus Balto-Slavic and Albanian) are assumed to have developed in situ by admixture of early Indo-European groups arriving in Europe by the Bronze Age (Corded ware, Beaker people). The Sami peoples are indigenous to northeastern Europe, while the other Finnic Peoples arrived later during the Bronze Age. Reconstructed languages of Iron Age Europe include Proto-Celtic, Proto-Italic and Proto-Germanic, all of these Indo-European languages of the centum group, and Proto-Slavic and Proto-Baltic, of the satem group. A group of Tyrrhenian languages appears to have included Etruscan, Rhaetian and perhaps also Eteocretan and Eteocypriot. A pre-Roman stage of Proto-Basque can only be reconstructed with great uncertainty.

Regarding the European Bronze Age, the only secure reconstruction is that of Proto-Greek (ca. 2000 BC). A Proto-Italo-Celtic ancestor of both Italic and Celtic (assumed for the Bell beaker period), and a Proto-Balto-Slavic language (assumed for roughly the Corded Ware horizon) has been postulated with less confidence. Old European hydronymy has been taken as indicating an early (Bronze Age) Indo-European predecessor of the later centum languages.

Historical populations

Further information: History of Europe

Iron Age (pre-Great Migrations) populations of Europe known from Greco-Roman historiography, notably Herodotus, Pliny, Ptolemy and Tacitus:

Historical immigration

Ethno-linguistic groups that arrived from outside Europe during historical times are:

History of European ethnography

The earliest accounts of European ethnography date to Classical Antiquity. Herodotus described the Scythians and Thraco-Illyrians. Dicaearchus gave a description of Greece itself besides accounts of western and northern Europe. His work survives only fragmentarily, but was received by Polybius and others.

Roman Empire period authors include Diodorus Siculus, Strabo and Tacitus. Julius Caesar gives an account of the Celtic tribes of Gaul, while Tacitus describes the Germanic tribes of Magna Germania.

The 4th century Tabula Peutingeriana records the names of numerous peoples and tribes. Ethnographers of Late Antiquity such as Agathias of Myrina Ammianus Marcellinus, Jordanes or Theophylact Simocatta give early accounts of the Slavs, the Franks, the Alamanni and the Goths.

Book IX of Isidore's Etymologiae (7th century) treats de linguis, gentibus, regnis, militia, civibus (of languages, peoples, realms, armies and cities). Ahmad ibn Fadlan in the 10th century gives an account of the Bolghar and the Rus' peoples. William Rubruck, while most notable for his account of the Mongols, in his account of his journey to Asia also gives accounts of the Tatars and the Alans. Saxo Grammaticus and Adam of Bremen give an account of pre-Christian Scandinavia. The Chronicon Slavorum (12th century) gives an account of the northwestern Slavic tribes.

Gottfried Hensel in his 1741 Synopsis Universae Philologiae published what is probably the earliest ethno-linguistic map of Europe, showing the beginning of the pater noster in the various European languages and scripts.[65][66] In the 19th century, ethnicity was discussed in terms of scientific racism, and the ethnic groups of Europe were grouped into a number of "races", Mediterranean, Alpine and Nordic, all part of a larger "Caucasian" group.

The beginnings of ethnic geography as an academic subdiscipline lie in the period following World War I, in the context of nationalism, and in the 1930s exploitation for the purposes of fascist and Nazi propaganda so that it was only in the 1960s that ethnic geography began to thrive as a bona fide academic subdiscipline.[67]

The origins of modern ethnography are often traced to the work of Bronisław Malinowski who emphasized the importance of fieldwork.[68] The emergence of population genetics further undermined the categorisation of Europeans into clearly defined racial groups. A 2007 study on the genetic history of Europe found that the most important genetic differentiation in Europe occurs on a line from the north to the south-east (northern Europe to the Balkans), with another east-west axis of differentiation across Europe, separating the "indigenous" Basques and Sami from other European populations. Despite these stratifications it noted the unusually high degree of European homogeneity: "there is low apparent diversity in Europe with the entire continent-wide samples only marginally more dispersed than single population samples elsewhere in the world."[69][70][71]

National minorities

The total number of national minority populations in Europe is estimated at 105 million people, or 14% of Europeans.[72]

The member states of the Council of Europe in 1995 signed the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The broad aims of the Convention are to ensure that the signatory states respect the rights of national minorities, undertaking to combat discrimination, promote equality, preserve and develop the culture and identity of national minorities, guarantee certain freedoms in relation to access to the media, minority languages and education and encourage the participation of national minorities in public life. The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities defines a national minority implicitly to include minorities possessing a territorial identity and a distinct cultural heritage. By 2008, 39 member states have signed and ratified the Convention, with the notable exception of France.

Indigenous minorities

Most of Europe's indigenous peoples, or ethnic groups known to have the earliest known historical connection to a particular region, have gone extinct or been absorbed by (or, perhaps, contributed to) the dominant cultures. Those that survive are largely confined to remote areas. Groups that have been identified as indigenous include the Sami of northern Scandinavia, the Basques of northern Spain and southern France, and a many of the western indigenous peoples of Russia. Groups in Russia include Finno-Ugric peoples such as the Komi and Mordvins of the western Ural Mountains, Samoyedic peoples such as the Nenets people of northern Russia.

Ethnic minorities of non-European origin

Main article: Immigration to Europe
Further information: Jews and Judaism in Europe, Islam in Europe, Hinduism in Europe, Buddhism in Europe and Afro-Europeans

Europe is also where a multiplicity of cultures, nationalities, and ethnic groups not indigenous to Europe reside. The majority of them are recently arrived immigrants in the 20th century, usually from former colonies of the British, French, and Spanish empires.

Populations of non-European origin in Europe (approx. 22 - 29+ million, or approx. 3% to 4%+ [depending on definition of non-European origin], out of a total population of approx. 728 million):

  • Western Asians
  • Africans
    • North Africans (Arabs and Berbers): approx. 5 million, mostly in France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. The bulk of North African migrants are Moroccans, although France also has a large number of Algerians.
    • Horn Africans: approx. 200,000 Somalis,[76] mostly in the UK, Netherlands and Scandinavia.
    • Sub-Saharan Africans (many ethnicities including Afro-Caribbeans and others by descent): approx. 5 million but rapidly growing, mostly in the UK and France, with smaller numbers in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Portugal and elsewhere.[77]
  • Latin Americans: approx. 2.2 million, mainly in Spain and to a lesser extent Italy and the UK.[78] See also Latin American Britons (80,000 Latin American born in 2001).[79]
    • Brazilians: around 70,000 in Portugal and Italy each, and 50,000 in Germany.
    • Chilean refugees escaping the Augusto Pinochet regime of the 1970s formed communities in France, Sweden, the UK, former East Germany and the Netherlands.
    • Venezuelans: around 520,000 mostly in Spain (200,000), Italy (150,000), Portugal (100,000), France (30,000), Germany (20,000), UK (15,000), Ireland (5,000) and the Netherlands (1,000).[80]
  • South Asians (many ethnicities, not including Romani): approx. 3 - 4 million, mostly in the UK but reside in smaller numbers in Germany and France.
    • Romani (Gypsies) (who have been in Europe for several centuries, and thus whose non-European origins are distant): approx. 4 or 10 million (although estimates vary widely), dispersed throughout Europe but with large numbers concentrated in the Balkans area, they are of ancestral South Asian origin.
    • Indians: approx. 2 million, mostly in the UK, also in Germany and smaller numbers in Ireland.
    • Pakistanis: approx. 1,000,000, mostly in the UK, but also in Norway and Sweden.
    • Tamils: approx. 250,000, predominantly in the UK.
    • Bangladeshi residing in Europe estimated at over 500,000, the bulk live in the UK.
    • Afghans, about 100,000 to 200,000, most happen to live in the UK, but Germany and Sweden are destinations for Afghan immigrants since the 1960s.
  • East Asians
  • North Americans
  • Others

European identity


Further information: History of Western civilization

Medieval notions of a relation of the peoples of Europe are expressed in terms of genealogy of mythical founders of the individual groups. The Europeans were considered the descendants of Japheth from early times, corresponding to the division of the known world into three continents, the descendants of Shem peopling Asia and those of Ham peopling Africa. Identification of Europeans as "Japhetites" is also reflected in early suggestions for terming the Indo-European languages "Japhetic".

In this tradition, the Historia Brittonum (9th century) introduces a genealogy of the peoples of the Migration period (as it was remembered in early medieval historiography) as follows,

The first man that dwelt in Europe was Alanus, with his three sons, Hisicion, Armenon, and Neugio. Hisicion had four sons, Francus, Romanus, Alamanus, and Bruttus. Armenon had five sons, Gothus, Valagothus, Cibidus, Burgundus, and Longobardus. Neugio had three sons, Vandalus, Saxo, and Boganus.
From Hisicion arose four nations—the Franks, the Latins, the Germans, and Britons; from Armenon, the Gothi, Valagothi, Cibidi, Burgundi, and Longobardi; from Neugio, the Bogari, Vandali, Saxones, and Tarincgi. The whole of Europe was subdivided into these tribes.[81]

The text goes then on to list the genealogy of Alanus, connecting him to Japheth via eighteen generations.

European culture

European culture is largely rooted in what is often referred to as its "common cultural heritage".[82] Due to the great number of perspectives which can be taken on the subject, it is impossible to form a single, all-embracing conception of European culture.[83] Nonetheless, there are core elements which are generally agreed upon as forming the cultural foundation of modern Europe.[84] One list of these elements given by K. Bochmann includes:[85]

Berting says that these points fit with "Europe's most positive realisations".[87] The concept of European culture is generally linked to the classical definition of the Western world. In this definition, Western culture is the set of literary, scientific, political, artistic and philosophical principles which set it apart from other civilizations. Much of this set of traditions and knowledge is collected in the Western canon.[88] The term has come to apply to countries whose history has been strongly marked by European immigration or settlement during the 18th and 19th centuries, such as the Americas, and Australasia, and is not restricted to Europe.


Main articles: Religion in Europe and Christendom

Since the High Middle Ages, most of Europe used to be dominated by Christianity. There are three major denominations, Roman Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox, with Protestantism restricted mostly to Northern Europe, and Orthodoxy to Slavic regions, Romania, Greece and Georgia. Also The Armenian Apostolic Church, part of the Oriental Church, is in Europe - another branch of Christianity (world's oldest National Church). Part of the Catholicism, while centered in the Latin parts, has a significant following also in Germanic and Slavic regions, Hungary, and Ireland (with some in Great Britain).

Islam has some tradition in the Balkans (the European dominions of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th to 19th centuries). Muslims represent majority of the population of Albania, Kosovo and a purality of 47% in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with significant minorities present in all over Europe. European Russia has the largest Muslim community, including the Tatars of the Middle Volga and multiple groups in the Caucasus, including Chechens, Avars, Ingush and others. With 20th-century migrations, Muslims in Western Europe have become a noticeable minority.

Judaism has a long history in Europe, but is a small minority religion, with France (1%) the only European country with a Jewish population in excess of 0.5%. (With millions of Jews killed during WW2, the Holocaust has contributed to the small population percentages.) The Jewish population of Europe is composed primarily of two groups, the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi. Ancestors of Ashkenazi Jews likely migrated to the middle of Europe at least as early as the 8th century, while Sephardi Jews established themselves in Spain and Portugal at least one thousand years before that. Jews originated in the Levant thousands of years ago and spread around the Mediterranean and into Europe. Jewish European history was notably affected by the Holocaust and emigration (including Aliyah, as well as emigration to America) in the 20th century.

In modern times, significant secularization has taken place, notably in laicist France in the 19th century and in the 20th century such as Estonia and German Democratic Republic. Currently, distribution of theism in Europe is very heterogeneous, with more than 95% in Poland, and less than 20% in the Czech Republic and Estonia. The 2005 Eurobarometer poll[89] found that 52% of EU citizens believe in God.

Pan-European identity

Main article: Pan-European identity

"Pan-European identity" or "Europatriotism" is an emerging sense of personal identification with Europe, or the European Union as a result of the gradual process European integration taking place over the last quarter of the 20th century, and especially in the period after the end of the Cold War, since the 1990s. The foundation of the OSCE followng the 1990s Paris Charter has facilitated this process on a political level during the 1990s and 2000s.

From the later 20th century, 'Europe' has come to be 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, and 'pan-European' is often contrasted with national identity.[90]

See also



  1. language in Encyclopædia Britannica


  • Online article
  • Full text on google books
  • Online version
  • part I: Europe, pp. 1–100.
  • Panikos Panayi, Outsiders: A History of European Minorities (London: Hambledon Press, 1999)

External links

  • Ron Balsdon, The Cultural Mosaic of the European Union: Why National Boundaries and the Cultures Inside Still Matter
  • Migration Policy Institute - Country and Comparative Data
  • Living Diversity, Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) and the Youth of European Nationalities (YEN).
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es:Anexo:Grupos étnicos de Europa

sv:Europas demografi zh:欧洲群族

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