Puneet Varma

Ethnic groups in Europe

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Ethnic groups in Europe

The ethnic groups in Europe are the focus of European ethnology, the field of anthropology related to the various ethnic groups that reside in the nations of Europe. According to German monograph Minderheitenrechte in Europa co-edited by Pan and Pfeil (2002) there are 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.

Contents

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, linguistic minority and genetic haplogroup are used as mostly synonymous, although preference may vary in usage with respect to the situation specific to the individual countries of Europe.

Overview

There are eight peoples of Europe (defined by their language) with more than 30 million members residing in Europe. These eight groups between themselves account for some 465 million or about 65% of European population:

  1. Russians (c. 95 million residing in Europe),
  2. Germans (c. 82 million),
  3. French (c. 60 million),
  4. British (c. 60 million),
  5. Italians (55 million),
  6. Spanish (c. 50 million),
  7. Ukrainians (38–55 million),
  8. Poles (c. 38 million).

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 United Kingdom 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

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, Italic (Romance) and Germanic. The largest groups that do not fall within these three 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 northern Africa as well as the Near East are preserved in Malta, a Mediterranean archipelago. Abkhaz–Adyghean, Basque, Kartvelian, and Nakho-Dagestani are linguistic isolates with no known relation to each other or to any other languages inside or outside of Europe.

Prehistoric populations

The Basques are assumed to descend from the populations of the Atlantic Bronze Age directly. 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 Finnic peoples are mostly assumed to be descended from populations that had migrated to their historical homelands by about 3,000 years ago.

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

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

  • Aegean: Greek tribes, Pelasgians/Tyrrhenians, and Anatolians.
  • Armenian Highlands/Anatolia: Armenians
  • Balkans: Illyrians (List of ancient tribes in Illyria), Dacians, and Thracians.
  • Caucasus: Georgians
  • Italian peninsula: Italic peoples, Etruscans, Adriatic Veneti, Ligurians and Greek colonies.
  • Western/Central Europe: Celts (list of peoples of Gaul, List of Celtic tribes), Rhaetians and Swabians, Vistula Veneti, Lugii and Balts.
  • Iberian peninsula: Pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula (Iberians, Lusitani, Aquitani, Celtiberians) Basques and Phoenicians ( Carthaginians).
  • Sardinia: ancient Sardinians (also known as Nuragic people), comprising the Corsi, Balares and Ilienses tribes.
  • British Isles: Celtic tribes in Britain and Ireland and Picts/Priteni.
  • Northern Europe: Finnic peoples, Germanic peoples (list of Germanic peoples).
  • Southern Europe: Sicani.
  • Eastern Europe: Scythians, Sarmatians.
  • Historical immigration

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

  • Phoenician colonies in the Mediterranean, from about 1200 BC to the fall of Carthage after the Third Punic War in 146 BC.
  • Iranian influence: Achaemenid control of Thrace (512–343 BC) and the Bosporan Kingdom, Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, Alans, Ossetes.
  • the Jewish diaspora reached Europe in the Roman Empire period, the Jewish community in Italy dating to around AD 70 and records of Jews settling Central Europe (Gaul) from the 5th century (see History of the Jews in Europe).
  • The Hunnic Empire (5th century), converged with the Barbarian invasions, contributing to the formation of the First Bulgarian Empire
  • Avar Khaganate (c.560s-800), converged with the Slavic migrations, fused into the South Slavic states from the 9th century.
  • the Bulgars (or proto-Bulgarians), a semi-nomadic people, originally from Central Asia, eventually absorbed by the Slavs.
  • the Magyars (Hungarians), a Ugric people, and the Turkic Pechenegs and Khazars, arrived in Europe in about the 8th century (see Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin).
  • the Arabs conquered Cyprus, Crete, Sicily, some places along the coast of southern Italy, Malta, Hispania and, in the early 11th century, Emirate of Sicily (831–1072) and Al-Andalus (711–1492)
  • the Berber dynasties of the Almoravides and the Almohads ruled much of Spain and Portugal.
  • exodus of Maghreb Christians
  • the western Kipchaks known as Cumans entered the lands of present-day Ukraine in the 11th century.
  • the Mongol/Tatar invasions (1223–1480), and Ottoman control of the Balkans (1389–1878). These medieval incursions account for the presence of European Turks and Tatars.
  • the Romani people (Gypsies) arrived during the Late Middle Ages
  • the Mongol Kalmyks arrived in Kalmykia in the 17th century.
  • 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. 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.

    The origins of modern ethnography are often traced to the work of Bronisław Malinowski who emphasized the importance of fieldwork. 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."

    National minorities

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

    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, the Bretons of western France and a many of the western indigenous peoples of Russia. Groups in Russia include Circassians of the northeastern Black Sea and the northwestern Caucasus (also indigenous to parts of Ukraine), Finno-Ugric peoples such as the Komi and Mordvins of the western Ural Mountains, northeastern Caucasus peoples of southwestern Russia, and Samoyedic peoples such as the Nenets people of northern Russia.

    In Europe, present-day indigenous populations as recognized by the UN are relatively few. Nevertheless, the ethnic groups traditionally inhabiting most, if not all, European countries are considered to be indigenous to Europe. This includes the majority populations. It can lead to some confusion, because the term "indigenous" does not imply "non-white" or "minority" in Europe as it would in other continents where white people are non-indigenous.

    Non-indigenous minorities

    Many non-European ethnic groups and nationalities have immigrated to Europe over the centuries. Some arrived centuries ago, while others immigrated more recently in the 20th century, often from former colonies of the British, French, and Spanish empires.

  • Western Asians
  • Jews: approx. 2.0 million, mostly in the UK, France and Germany. They are descended from the Israelites of the Middle East (Southwest Asia), originating from the historical kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
  • Ashkenazi Jews: approx. 1.4 million, mostly in the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Ukraine. They are believed by scholars to have arrived via southern Europe in the Roman era and coalesced in France and Germany towards the end of the first millennium. The Nazi Holocaust wiped out the vast majority during World War II and forced many to flee.
  • Sephardi Jews: approx. 0.3 million, mostly in France. They arrived via Spain and Portugal in the pre-Roman and Roman eras, and were forcibly converted or expelled in the 15th and 16th centuries.
  • Mizrahi Jews: approx. 0.3 million, mostly in France, via Islamic-majority countries of the Middle East.
  • Italqim: approx. 50,000, mostly in Italy, since the 2nd century BCE.
  • Romaniotes: approx. 6,000, mostly in Greece, with communities dating at least from the 1st century CE.
  • Crimean Karaites (Karaim): less than 4,000, mostly in Poland and Lithuania. They arrived in Crimea in the Middle Ages.
  • Assyrians: mostly in Sweden and Germany, as well in Russia.
  • Kurds: approx. 2.5 million, mostly in the UK, Germany, Sweden and Turkey.
  • Iraqi diaspora: mostly in the UK, Germany and Sweden.
  • Lebanese diaspora: especially in France, Netherlands, Germany, Cyprus and the UK.
  • Syrian diaspora: Largest number of Syrians live in Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.
  • 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, 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, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere.
  • Latin Americans: approx. 2.2 million, mainly in Spain and to a lesser extent Italy and the UK. See also Latin American Britons (80,000 Latin American born in 2001).
  • 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), Portugal (100,000), France (30,000), Germany (20,000), UK (15,000), Ireland (5,000), Italy (5,000) and the Netherlands (1,000).
  • South Asians: approx. 3 - 4 million, mostly in the UK but reside in smaller numbers in Germany and France.
  • Romani (Gypsies): 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 and European 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
  • Chinese: approx. 1.7 million, mostly in France, Russia, the UK, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands.
  • Filipinos: above 1 million, mostly in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy.
  • Japanese: mostly in the UK and a sizable community in Düsseldorf, Germany.
  • Koreans: 100,000 estimated (excludes a possible 100,000 more in Russia), mainly in the UK, France and Germany. See also Koryo-saram.
  • Southeast Asians of multiple nationalities, ca. total 1 million, such as Indonesians in the Netherlands, Thais in the UK and Sweden, Vietnamese in France and former East Germany, and Cambodians in France. See also Vietnamese people in the Czech Republic.
  • Mongolians are a sizable community in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.
  • North Americans
  • U.S. and Canadian expatriates: American British and Canadian British, Canadiens and Acadians in France, as well Americans/Canadians of European ancestry residing elsewhere in Europe.
  • African Americans (i.e. African American British) who are Americans of black/African ancestry reside in other countries. In the 1920s, African-American entertainers established a colony in Paris (African American French) and descendants of World War II/Cold War-era black American soldiers stationed in France, Germany and Italy are well known.
  • Others
  • European diaspora - Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans (mostly White South Africans of Afrikaaner and British descent), mainly in the UK.
  • Pacific Islanders: A small population of Tahitians of Polynesian origin in mainland France, Fijians in the United Kingdom from Fiji and Māori in the United Kingdom of the Māori people of New Zealand.
  • Amerindians and Inuit, a scant few in the European continent of American Indian ancestry (often Latin Americans in Spain, France and the UK; Inuit in Denmark), but most may be children or grandchildren of U.S. soldiers from American Indian tribes by intermarriage with local European women. In Germany, the Native American Association of Germany founded in 1994 as a socio-cultural organization estimates 50,000 North American Indians (descendants) live in the country.
  • Historical

    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.

    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". 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. Nonetheless, there are core elements which are generally agreed upon as forming the cultural foundation of modern Europe. One list of these elements given by K. Bochmann includes:

  • A common cultural and spiritual heritage derived from Greco-Roman antiquity, Christianity, the Renaissance and its Humanism, the political thinking of the Enlightenment, and the French Revolution, and the developments of Modernity, including all types of socialism;
  • A rich and dynamic material culture that has been extended to the other continents as the result of industrialization and colonialism during the "Great Divergence";
  • A specific conception of the individual expressed by the existence of, and respect for, a legality that guarantees human rights and the liberty of the individual;
  • A plurality of states with different political orders, which are condemned to live together in one way or another;
  • Respect for peoples, states and nations outside Europe.
  • Berting says that these points fit with "Europe's most positive realisations". 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. 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.

    Religion

    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).

    Christianity is still the largest religion in Europe; according to a 2011 survey, 76.2% of Europeans considered themselves Christians. Also according to a study on Religiosity in the European Union in 2012, by Eurobarometer, Christianity is the largest religion in the European Union, accounting for 72% of the EU's population.

    Islam has some tradition in the Balkans and Caucasus (the European dominions of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th to 19th centuries). Muslims account for the majority of the populations in Albania, Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Northern Cyprus, Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Significant minorities are present in the rest of Europe. In addition to Turkey and Azerbaijan, Russia has one of the largest Muslim communities in Europe, 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. According to the Pew Forum, the total number of Muslims in Europe in 2010 was about 44 million (6%). excluding Turkey. While the total number of Muslims in the European Union in 2007 was about 16 million (3.2%).

    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%. 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 where they resided for thousands of years until the 2nd century AD, when they spread around the Mediterranean and into Europe, although small communities were known to exist in Greece since at least the 1st century BC. Jewish 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 since 20th century, notably in laicist France, Estonia and Czech 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 found that 52% of EU citizens believe in God.

    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 following 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.

    European ethnic groups by country

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

    References

    Ethnic groups in Europe Wikipedia


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