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The European peoples are the various nations and ethnic groups 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.

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.


There are eight peoples of Europe with more than 30 million members residing in Europe:
  1. the Russians (ca. 90 million settling in the European parts of Russiamarker),
  2. the Germans (ca. 82 million),
  3. the French (ca. 65 million)
  4. the British 55 - 61 million
  5. the Italians (ca. 59 million)
  6. the Spanish (ca. 46 million),
  7. the Ukrainians (ca. 46 million),
  8. the Poles (ca. 38 million).
These eight groups between themselves account for some 460 million or about 63% 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 Spainmarker and the UKmarker 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. Switzerlandmarker 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-national state" rather than a "multi-ethnic state".

Ethno-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 ethno-linguistic super-groups, viz., Slavic, Latin and Germanic. The largest groups that do not fall within either of these are the Greeks and the Hungarians (about 12 million each) and the Albanians (about 6 million).

phylum super-group ethno-linguistic group subgroups approx. number (millions) notes
Indo-European Indo-European **641
Indo-Europeans Slavic Europe *226
Indo-Europeans Slavic, East Russians Pomors, Cossacks 90
Indo-Europeans Slavic, East Ukrainians Rusyns , Boykos, Hutsuls, Lemkos, Poleszuks 43
Indo-Europeans Slavic, West Poles 38
Indo-Europeans Slavic, West Czechs 10
Indo-Europeans Slavic, South Serbs 012
Indo-Europeans Slavic, East Belarusians 10
Indo-Europeans Slavic, South Bulgarians Pomaks 08
Indo-Europeans Slavic, South Croats 05
Indo-Europeans Slavic, West Slovaks 05
Indo-Europeans Slavic, South Macedonians Macedonian Muslims 01.6
Indo-Europeans Slavic, South Bosniaks 01.6
Indo-Europeans Slavic, South Slovenes 02
Indo-Europeans Slavic, West Silesians 01.9
Indo-Europeans Slavic, South Montenegrins 0.6
Indo-Europeans Slavic, West Kashubs 0.5
Indo-Europeans Slavic, West Sorbs 0.06
Indo-Europeans Latin Europe *190
Indo-Europeans Latin, Western Francophonie French, Walloons, Romands, Provencals, Occitans, Aranese 72
Indo-Europeans Latin, Western Catalans Catalans, Andorran, Valencians, Balearics 10
Indo-Europeans Latin, Italo-Western Italians Sardinians, Furlans, Lombards, Venetians, Sicilians, Neapolitans, Corsicansmarker 53
Indo-Europeans Latin, Western Spaniards Castilians; non-Castilian ethno-linguistic groups: Andalusians, Asturians, Aragonese, Galicians 40
Indo-Europeans Latin, Eastern Romanians (Vlachs) Daco-Romanians, Moldovans, Megleno-Romanians, Istro-Romanians, Aromanians 23
Indo-Europeans Latin, Western Portuguese 10
Indo-Europeans Latin, Western Rhaeto-Romanics Romansh, Friulians, 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, Lorrainersmarker, South Tyroleans, German-speaking Belgians, North Schleswigers 89
Indo-Europeans Germanic, West, North Sea English 45 also subsumed under British or White British. (very few have "Germanic" genes)
Indo-Europeans Germanic, West, Continental Netherlandish Dutch people, Flemish people 23
Indo-Europeans Germanic, North Scandinavians Norwegians, Swedes, Finland Swedes, Danes, Faroese, Icelanders 22
Indo-Europeans Germanic, West, North Sea Frisians 0.5
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 Anglo-Celtic, Goidelic Irish Gaeltacht 06 Some living in Northern Irelandmarker can also subsumed under British or White British. Most speak English as their first language, but 5% are Gaelic speaking Irish.
Indo-Europeans Anglo-Celtic, Goidelic Scots Gàidhealtachd 06 also subsumed under British or White British. (speak English mainly as first language).
Indo-Europeans Anglo-Celtic, Brythonic Welsh 05 also subsumed under British or White British. (about half speak English as first language).
Indo-Europeans Franco-Celtic, Brythonic Bretons 05 also subsumed under French. (many will Speak French first).
Indo-Europeans Anglo-Celtic, Brythonic Cornish 0.2 also subsumed under English, British or White British. (all speak English as first language very few can actually speak Cornish in Cornwallmarker).
Indo-Europeans Anglo-Celtic, Goidelic Manx 0.04 also subsumed under British or White British. (speak English as first language, mainly Manx in the Isle of Manmarker is having a revival).
Indo-Europeans Anglo-Celtic, Brythonic and Goidelic British 50 - 60 also subsumed under White British. (Includes English, Welsh, Cornish, Scottish, Manx, Channel Islanders, Irish in Northern Ireland and Gibraltarian) (speak English mainly).
Indo-Europeans Greek Greeks 12
Indo-Europeans Albanian Albanians 06
Indo-Europeans Armenian Armenians 05
Indo-Europeans Baltic 04.5
Indo-Europeans Lithuanians 03.1
Indo-Europeans Latvians Latgalians 01.4
Indo-Europeans Indo-Iranian 04
Indo-Europeans Indo-Aryan Romani people 04
Indo-Europeans Iranian Ossetians 0.4 depends on what part of the Caucasus is considered European, see below.
Indo-Europeans Iranian Tats 0.02
Turkic Turkic *030
Turkic peoples Turkic, Oghuz Turks 16 approx. 10 million in Eastern Thrace, 1 million in the rest of the Balkans, 5 million in diaspora. (see Turks in Europe)
Turkic peoples Turkic, Kypchak Volga Tatars 6
Turkic peoples Turkic, Oghur Chuvash 02
Turkic peoples Turkic, Kypchak Bashkirs 01.4
Turkic peoples Turkic, Kypchak Kumyks 00.3
Turkic peoples Turkic, Kypchak Karachays 01.5
Turkic peoples Turkic, Kypchak / Oghuz Crimeans Tat Tatars, Yaliboyu Tatars, Noğay Tatars 2
Turkic peoples Turkic, Oghuz Gagauz 0.2
Turkic peoples Turkic, Kypchak Balkars 0.08
Turkic peoples Turkic, Kypchak Nogais 0.07
Finno-Ugric Finno-Ugric *022
Finno-Ugric peoples Ugric Hungarians 12
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 1.1
Finno-Ugric peoples Finnic, Permic Udmurts 0.7
Finno-Ugric peoples Finnic, Volgaic Mari 0.6
Finno-Ugric peoples Finnic, Permic Komi Komi-Izhemtsy, Komi-Permyaks 0.5
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
Caucasian Caucasian *08 depends on what part of the Caucasus is considered European, see below.
Caucasian Northeast Caucasian Chechens 1
Caucasian Northeast Caucasian Avars 0.5
Caucasian Northeast Caucasian Dargin 0.4
Caucasian Northwest Caucasian Kabards 0.4
Caucasian Northwest Caucasian Adygeans 0.5
Caucasian Northeast Caucasian Lezgins 0.3
Caucasian Northeast Caucasian Ingushetians 0.2
Caucasian Northwest Caucasian Cherkes 0.2
Caucasian Northwest Caucasian Lak 0.1
Caucasian Northwest Caucasian Tabasarans 0.1
Caucasian Northeast Caucasian Rutuls 0.02
Caucasian Northeast Caucasian Tsakhur people 0.007
Caucasian South Caucasian Georgians 5 depends on what part of the Caucasus is considered European, see below.
Basque Basque Basques 00.7
Semitic Semitic 2
Semitic Semitic, Hebrew Jews 1.3 also subsumed under various other, see below.
Semitic Semitic, Maltese Maltese 0.4 ethno-linguistic classification is difficult, since there is significant historical admixture of Italian, Sicilian, Siculo-Arabic, British and French influence.
Mongolic Mongolic Kalmyks 0.17

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

Depending on what parts of the 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 sovereign state geographically situated in Europe. These majorities range from nearly homogeneous populations as in Polandmarker or Albaniamarker to comparatively slight majorities as in Latviamarker or Belgiummarker. Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and Montenegromarker are multiethnic states in which no group forms a majority.

country majority % regional majorities other minorities
Albania Albanians 95% Greeks 3%, other 2% (Vlachs, Romani, Serbs, Macedonians, Bulgarians and Turks).
Armenia Armenians 97% Yezidi 2%, Other <1%).></1%).>
Azerbaijan Azeris % ).
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 (Eastern or Southern Europeans, Africans and Asians) 10%.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosniak 48%, Serbs 37.1% Croats 14.3% other 0.6%.(2000)
Bulgaria Bulgarians 83.9% Turks 9.4% Romani 4.7%, other 2% (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar, Circassian and Greek). (2001 census)
Croatia Croats 89.6% Serbs 4.5%, other 5.9% (including Bosniak, Hungarian, Slovene, Czech, Dalmatian-Italian, Austrian-German, Romanian and Romani/Gypsy). (2001 census)
Czech Republic Czechs 90.4% Moravians 3.7% Slovaks 1.9%, and other 4%. (2001 census)
Denmark Danes 90% 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% Russians 0.5%, Estonians 0.3%, Romani 0.1%, Sami 0.1% and Turks 0.05%. (2006)
France French 84% (includes ethnic or regional groups like Bretons, Corsicansmarker, Occitans, Alsatians, Normans, Picards, Savoyards, Basques and Flemings). other European 7%, North African 7%, Sub-Saharan African, Indochinese, Asian, Latin American and Pacific Islander. [552733]
Germany Germans 81%-91% includes Bavarians, Swabians, Saxonsmarker, Frisians, Sorbs, Silesians, Saarlandmarker Germans, Polish-Germans and Schleswig-Holsteinmarker 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%.)
Georgia Georgians 83.8% Azeris 6.5%, Armenians 5.7%, Russians 1.5% and Ossetians 1.3%.
Greece Greeks 93% includes linguistic minorities 3% Albanians 4%, and other 3%. (2001 census)
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 1.6%. (2006 census)
Italy Italians 95% includes Sicilians, Sardinians, Lombards and other subgroups plus German-speakers in Trento-Alto Adige and French-speaking minority of Val D'Aosta. other European (mostly Albanian, followed by Slovene, Croatian, Hungarian, Greek, Romanian, Ukrainian and Swiss) 2.5%, North African Arab 1%, and others (i.e. Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Black African and Latin American) 1.5%. [552734]
Kosovo Albanians 88% Serbs 7% other 5% (Bosniak, Gorani, Romani, Turk, Ashkali, Egyptian and Macedonian).
Latvia Latvians 57.7% Baltic Russians 29.6% Belarusian 4.1%, Ukrainian 2.7%, Polish 2.5%, Lithuanian 1.4%, Livonian (Finno-Estonian) 0.1% and other 2%. (2002)
Lithuania Lithuanians 83.5% Poles 6.74%, Russians 6.31%, Belarusians 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% Sporadic number of Maltese of Italian ancestry 4.5%.
Moldova Moldovan/Romanian 78.2% Ukrainians 8.4% Russians 5.8%, Gagauz 4.4%, Bulgarians 1.9%, and other 1.3%. (2004 census)
Montenegro Montenegrins 43%, Serbs 32% Bosniaks 8%, Albanians 5%, and other (Croats, Greeks, Romani-Gypsy and Macedonians) 12%. (2003 census)
Netherlands Dutch 80.7% other European Union nationals 5%, Indonesians 2.4%, Turks 2.2%, Surinamese 2%, Moroccans 2%, Netherlands Antilles & Aruba 0.8%, other 4.8% and Frisian-speaking 0.01%. (2008 est.)
Norway Norwegians 93.1% Sami 1.3% other European 3.6%, and other non-European races 2%. (2007 estimate)
Poland Poles 96.7% Germans 0.4%, Belarusians 0.1%, Ukrainians 0.1%, other and unspecified (Silesians and Kashubians) 2.7%, and about 5,000 Polish Jews reported to reside in the country. (2002 census)
Portugal Portuguese 92% other 8% - European Union (i.e. Spanish, British, German, French, Romanians) and non-EU nationals (i.e. Ukrainians, Moldavians, Bulgarians, Russians); 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% (2002 census)
Russia Russians 79.8% Tatars 3.8%, Kalmyks, Chechens, Circassians, Ossetians and Siberians Ukrainians 2%, Bashkir 1.2%, Chuvash 1.1% and other or unspecified (Kazakhs, Nogais, Mordvins, Komi and Armenians) 12.1%, and a total of 102 other nationalities. (2002 census, includes Asian Russia).
Serbia Serbs 82.9% Hungarians 3.9%, Romani 1.4%, Yugoslavs 1.1%, Bosniaks 1.8%, Montenegrin 0.9%, and other 8%. (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 & Romanians) and/or unspecified 12%. (2002 census)
Spain Spaniards 89% Various nationalities or sub-ethnicities of the Spanish people, including Castilians, Catalans, Galicians and Basques Spanish Gypsies, Spanish Jews, immigrant peoples (Latin Americans, Romanians, North Africans, sub-Saharan Africans, Chinese, Filipinos, Levant Arabs, and others).
Sweden Swedes 88% Sweden-Finns, Sami people foreign-born or first-generation immigrants: Finns, Yugoslavs, Danes, Norwegians, Russians, Syriacs, Greeks, Turks, Iranians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Thais, Koreans and Chileans.
Switzerland Swiss 79% regional linguistic subgroups, including the Alamannic German-speakers, the Romand French-speakers, the Italian-speakers and Romansh people 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 80% - 93% White English 77.0%, White Scottish 8.0%, White Welsh 4.5%, White Northern Irish 2.8%, also Cornish, Manx, Romani and Channel Islanders Other White background (Irish 24.0% with some Irish origins, Polish 1.6%, Portuguese 0.8%, Greeks 0.7%, Germans 0.6%, amongst many others. Note that the 2001 census did not allow people to state origins within a European nation without being born there themselves). Visible ethnic minorities make up approximately 14% of the UK's population, they include South Asians 5.7% (Indians 2.7%, Pakistanis 1.5%, Bangladeshis 0.8%), Blacks/Sub-Saharan Africans 3.0% (Black Africans 1.5%, Afro-Caribbeans 1.3%), Arabs 1.7% (Iraqis 0.6%), East Asians 1.6% (Chinese 0.8%, amongst others), Mixed-Race 1.4%, Other (including Latin Americans, Iranians and Pacific Islanders)


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 indigenous to northeastern Europe.

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:

Historical immigration

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

History of European ethnography

Europa Polyglotta, Linguarum Genealogiam exhibens, una cum Literis, Scribendique modis, Omnium Gentium ("multilingual Europe, exhibiting a genealogy of tongues together with the letters and modes of writing of all peoples")
The earliest accounts of European ethnography date to Classical Antiquity. Herodotus described the Scythians and Thraco-Illyrians. Dicaearchus gave a description of Greecemarker 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 peoples of Eastern Europe, in particular the Bolgharmarker and the Rus'.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 Francemarker.

Indigenous minorities

A Sami family in northern Scandinavia around 1900
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 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 Spainmarker and southern Francemarker, and a many of the western indigenous peoples of Russia. Groups in Russiamarker include Finno-Ugric peoples such as the Komi and Mordvins of the western Ural Mountainsmarker, Samoyedic peoples such as the Nenets people of northern Russia.

Ethnic minorities of non-European origin

Europe is also where a multiplicity of cultures, nationalities and ethnic groups originated outside of Europe reside in, most of them are recently arrived immigrants in the 20th century and their country of origin are often a former colony 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
    • Turks (excluding the indigenous Turkish population in Europe): approx. 5 million, mostly in German-speaking states, but found in sizeable communities throughout Europe. Turkish populations in the Balkans are also prevalent from the pre-WWI Ottoman era.
    • Jews (both practicing and non-practicing by ethno-religious descent): approx. 2 million, mainly in certain Western European capitals, but found in sizeable urban communities throughout Europe; France, Britain, Germany, and Russia have the largest numbers. Most of France's Jews are of Sephardic North African origin, while those in Germany and Russia are mainly Ashkenazi.
    • Kurds: approx. 1.5 million, mostly in the UK, Germany and Sweden.
    • Iraqi diaspora: approx. 400,000 to 600,000, mostly in the UK, Germany and Sweden.
    • Lebanese diaspora: especially in France, Netherlands, Germany, Cyprus and the UK.
    • Syrian diaspora: includes Assyrian, Syriac and Chaldean Christian minorities. 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, Portugal and elsewhere.
  • Latin Americans: approx. 2.2 million, mainly in Spain and to a lesser extent Italy and the UK. (Latin American Britons number up to 100,000 (80,000 Latin American born in 2001) and are of European, African, Native South American and many other races.)
    • Brazilians: 200,000 - 300,000 in the UK, around 70,000 in Portugal and Italy each, and 50,000 in Germany.
    • Chileanmarker refugees escaping the Augusto Pinochet regime of the 1970s formed communities in France, Sweden, the UK, former East Germany and the Netherlands.
    • It is important to note that most legal/documented Latin Americans in Europe are of European origin, being descended from a European ethnic group.
  • 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): 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.
    • Bangladeshimarker residing in Europe estimated at over 500,000, the bulk live in the UK.
    • Afghansmarker, 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
  • Others
    • U.S. Expatriates: American British, as well U.S.-born Europeans/ American citizens residing in France, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Spain and elsewhere.
    • 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 Parismarker and descendants of WWII/Cold war era black American GI's stationed in Francemarker, Germanymarker and Italymarker are well known.
    • American Indians, a scant few in the European continent of American Indian ancestry (often Latin Americans in Spain, France and the UK), 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.
    • Pacific Islanders: A small population of Tahitiansmarker of Polynesian origin in mainland France, Fijians in the United Kingdom from Fijimarker and Maori in the United Kingdom of the Maori people of New Zealandmarker.

European identity


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 Japhet from early times, corresponding to the division of the known world into three continents, the descendants of Sem 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 Japhet 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:

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, art 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.


[[File:Europe religion map en.png|thumb|250px|Predominant religions in Europe

Eurobarometer Poll 2005 chart results

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 Great Britain (with some in Ireland), and Orthodoxy to Slavic regions, Romania, Greece and Georgiamarker. Catholicism, while centered in the Latin parts, has a significant following also in Germanic and Slavic regions 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), in Albaniamarker, Former Yugoslaviamarker, Bulgariamarker and Turkish East Thrace. 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%. 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. Jewish European history was notably affected by the Holocaust and resulting emigration in the 20th century.

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 95% in Poland, and less than 20% in the Czech Republic. 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 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.

See also



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