List of contemporary ethnic groups

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The following is a list of the largest contemporary ethnic groups.

There has been constant debate over the classification of ethnic groups. Membership of an ethnic group tends to be associated with shared cultural heritage, ancestry, history, homeland, language or dialect, the term culture specifically including aspects such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, etc. By the nature of the concept, ethnic groups tend to be divided into ethnic subgroups, which may themselves be or not be identified as independent ethnic groups depending on the source consulted.

Largest ethnic groups[edit]

The largest groups commonly identified as "ethnic groups" (as opposed to ethno-linguistic phyla, racial groups or similar). Listed here are ethnic groups or super-groups with more than 2 0–30 million or so members, but by nature of the concept, population estimates may vary widely, especially in the presence of a large and long-established emigrant population.

Name Linguistic phylum Languages and dialects Homeland Population (estimate) Subgroups Other defining characteristics (e.g. primary religion)
Han Chinese Sino-Tibetan (Sinitic) Chinese, Chinese dialects China 1,300 million[1] considered a single group in the PRC census, but consisting of diverse subgroups, including Cantonese, Chuanqing, Fuzhouese, Min, Gan, Hakka, Hunanese, Hoklo, Shanghainese, Taishanese, Tanka (Fuzhou Tanka), Teochew. the dominant ethnic group of the Sinosphere (East Asian cultural sphere), accounting for some 20% of world population
Hindustani people Indo-European (Central Indo-Aryan) Hindi languages Indian subcontinent (Hindustan; Hindi belt) 420–1,200 million [2] see Indo-Aryans, Indian people, ethnic groups in India; Non-resident Indian and person of Indian origin, British Asian a pan-ethnicity including Biharis, Rajasthanis and depending on definition also Oriyas, Bengalis, Punjabis, Gujaratis, Marathis, etc.
Arabs Afro-Asiatic (Central Semitic) Arabic, Arabic dialects Arabian peninsula, Arab World 300–400 million[3] see Arab groups, Bedouin, Arabian tribes, Arab diaspora includes many populations Arabized in the course of the Islamic conquests; status as an ethnic group doubtful (Arabs in the narrow ethnic sense are Bedouin, numbering c. 20 million; the equation of all Arabic speakers as ethnic Arabs is a political ideology known as Pan-Arabism.
Bengalis Indo-European (Eastern Indo-Aryan) Bengali language, Bengali dialects Bengal 270 million[4] see Bengali Muslims, Bengali Hindus, Bengali diaspora Islam and Hinduism
Russians Indo-European (East Slavic) Russian, Russian dialects Russia 130–150 million[5] Russian Orthodox Church
Japanese Japonic Japanese and relative dialects;
Languages of Japan
Japan 130 million [6]
Tamil people Dravidian (Southern) Tamil Tamilakam 78 million[7] Tamil diaspora Hinduism, Islam
Punjabis Indo-European (Central Indo-Aryan) Punjabi, Punjabi dialects Punjab 120 million [8] numerous Punjabi tribes Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism
Javanese Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) Javanese, Indonesian, Malay Java 105 million[9] santri, abangan, priyayi
Biharis Indo-European (Eastern Indo-Aryan) Bihari languages (Bhojpuri, Maithili, Magadhi, etc.) Bihar 100 million status as an ethnicity unclear; they may also be considered a regional division of the Indo-Aryan dialect continuum.[10]
Telugu people Dravidian (Southern) Telugu Andhra Pradesh 90 million [11]
Marathi people Indo-European (Southern Indo-Aryan) Marathi Maharashtra 87 million[12]
Vietnamese people Austroasiatic (Vietic) Vietnamese Vietnam 84 million [13] Overseas Vietnamese
Korean Koreanic Korean, Korean dialects Korean peninsula 80 million [14] North Koreans, South Koreans, Korean diaspora
Germans Indo-European (West Germanic) German, German dialects German-speaking Europe 70–160 million[15] Bavarians, Swabians, Franconians, Thuringians, Saxons; overseas diasporas Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism; The native population of Germany, including official recognition of ethnic Germans from territories of the former Soviet Union (Spätaussiedler).
Turkish people Turkic (Oghuz) Turkish, Turkish dialects Turkey 70–83 million [16]
French Indo-European (Romance, Gallo-Romance) French and relative varieties;
Languages of France
France 66–106 million[17] Occitan people, French Community of Belgium, French diaspora The native population of France; delineation from French nationality unclear.
Italians Indo-European (Romance, Italo-Dalmatian) Italian and relative dialects;
Languages of Italy
Italy[18] 60 –140 million[19] Italian diaspora Roman Catholicism; The native population of Italy; delineation from Italian nationality unclear.
Persians Indo-European (Western Iranian) Persian language Fars, Iran 60–70 million[20] Hola, Lari, Farsiwan, Tat people (Iran), Tat people (Caucasus); Iranian diaspora Shia Islam (Sunni and Zoroastrian minorities)
English Indo-European (Germanic, North Sea) English, English dialects England 50–110 million[21] regional identities, English diaspora Anglicanism; The native population of England, sometimes subsumed under a British category[22]
Gujaratis Indo-European (Western Indo-Aryan) Gujarati language Gujarat 50–60 million[23] Hinduism; Muslim minority
Thais Tai–Kadai (Tai) Thai; other Southwestern Tai languages Thailand 50 million Central Thai, Southern (Siamese, Tai Siam), Northern (Lanna), Isan people Buddhism
Spaniards Indo-European (Romance, Iberian) Spanish;
Languages of Spain
Iberian peninsula 43–150 million [24] see nationalisms and regionalisms of Spain, Spanish diaspora, La Raza Roman Catholicism; The native population of Spain; delineation from Spanish nationality unclear.
Portuguese Indo-European (Romance, Iberian) Portuguese, Portuguese dialects, Galician Portugal, Brazil 42 million (11–100 million[25] Portuguese diaspora Roman Catholicism; The native population of Portugal; delineation from Portuguese nationality unclear.
Pashtuns Indo-European (Eastern Iranian Pashto, Pashto dialects Pashtunistan 40–60 million[26] Pashtun tribes, Pashtun diaspora Sunni Islam, Hanafi
Poles Indo-European (West Slavic) Polish, Polish dialects Poland 40–56 million[27] Polish diaspora Roman Catholicism
Ukrainians Indo-European (East Slavic) Ukrainian Ukraine 40–45 million[28] Ukrainian diaspora Ukrainian identity formed in the 20th century[citation needed], separating Ukrainians from the wider Ruthenian or All-Russian groups.
Sundanese Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) Sundanese Java of Indonesia 40–45 million
Kannada Dravidian (Southern) Kannada Karnataka 37–55 million
Hausa Afro-Asiatic Hausa West Africa 35 million
Malayali Dravidian Malayalam India (Kerala) 35 million
Kurds Indo-European Kurdish languages Kurdistan area 30 - 38 million
Igbo Niger-Congo Igbo Southeastern Nigeria 30–40 million
Yoruba Niger-Congo Yoruba langauge Nigeria and West Africa 30–40 million
Fula Niger-Congo Fula West Africa and northern parts of Central Africa 30–40 million
Irish Indo-European (Germanic/Celtic) Hiberno-English, Irish language[29] Ireland 10–50 million[30] Gaeltacht, Irish diaspora Roman Catholicism

Lists of ethnic groups[edit]

by status

regional lists


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 1.24 billion (92% of total population) in the PRC (CIA Factbook 2014 est.), about 22 million in Taiwan, and an estimated 50 million Overseas Chinese
  2. ^ depending on definition; CIA Factbook (2014) gives 890 million Indo-Aryans as the majority group of the Republic of India. The Indo-Aryan languages are estimated to have some 1.2 billion native speakers. The 2001 Indian census records two figures, 258 million and 422 million "Hindi" speakers. Both figures include languages other than Standard Hindi, such as Rajasthani (ca. 80 million in independent estimates), Bhojpuri (40 million), Awadhi (38 million), Chhattisgarhi (18 million), and dozens of other languages with a million to over ten million speakers each. The figure of 422 million specifically includes all such people, whereas the figure of 258 depends on speaker identification as recorded in the census. Maithili (one of the Bihari languages) was listed as a separate language in the 2001 census but previously considered a dialect of Hindi.
  3. ^ identification as Arab of all Arab speaking populations (historically Arabized due to the Islamic conquests) is relatively recent (20th century), a product of Pan-Arabism, and may be subject to political dispute. The Arabic language has an estimated 293 million native speakers. The majority of these identifies as Arab. The CIA Factbook estimates the number of ethnic Arabs as follows: 86.9 M in Egypt, 38.8 M in Algeria, 33.0 M in Morocco, 32.6 M in Iraq, 26.2 M in Saudi Arabia, 25.9 M in Sudan, 24.3 M in Yemen, 22.5 M in Syria, 10.4 M in Tunisia (also identified as Arab-Berber, 10.3 M in Chad, 8.0 M in Israel, 6.5 M in Libya (also identified as Arab-Berber), 6.5 M in Jordan, 6.1 M in Eritrea, 4.7 M in the United Arab Emirates, 4.1 M in Lebanon, 4.2 M in the Palestinian territories, 3.1 M in Oman, 3.0 M in Kuwait, 3.3 M in Mauritania (also identified as Arab-Berber or Moors), 1.9 M in Sri Lanka (Ceylon Moors), 1.5 M in Qatar, 1.2 M in Bahrain, 0.8 M in Djibouti, 0.6 M in Western Sahara. This amounts to a population of 366 million Arabs. To this are added an estimated 7 million Arab immigrants in western countries.
  4. ^ roughly 163 million in Bangladesh and 100 million in the Republic of India (CIA Factbook 2014 estimates, numbers subject to rapid population growth); about 3 million Bangladeshis in the Middle East, 1 million Bengalis in Pakistan, 0.4 million British Bangladeshi.
  5. ^ Estimates range between 130 and 150 million. 111 million in the Russian Federation (2010 census), about 16 million ethnic Russians in post-Soviet states (8 M in Ukraine, 4.5 M in Kazakhstan, 1 M in Belarus, 0.6 M Latvia, 0.6 M in Uzbekistan, 0.6 M in Kyrgyzstan. Up to 10 million Russian diaspora elsewhere (mostly Americas and Western Europe).
  6. ^ 127 million in Japan, about 2.5 million abroad.
  7. ^ 73 million in the Republic of India (CIA Factbook 2014 estimate, subject to rapid population growth), 2 million in Sri Lanka (CIA Factbook 2014 estimate), roughly 3 million in diaspora.
  8. ^ 88 M in Pakistan, 35 M in the Republic of India (CIA Factbook 2014 estimates).
  9. ^ 102 million in Indonesia (CIA Factbook 2014 estimate); small numbers in Malaysia, Suriname and elsewhere.
  10. ^ Biharis are not considered an ethnic group either in the Indian census or by the CIA Factbook. The Bihari languages are a group of sufficiently distinct languages for them to appear separately in the census.
  11. ^ 89 million in the Republic of India (CIA Factbook 2014 estimate), subject to rapid population growth.
  12. ^ 87 million in the Republic of India (CIA Factbook 2014 estimate), subject to rapid population growth.
  13. ^ 80 million in Vietnam (CIA Factbook 2014 estimate), roughly 4 million in diaspora.
  14. ^ 50 million in South Korea, 24 million in North Korea, roughly 7 million in diaspora.
  15. ^ The total number of ethnic Germans is estimated anywhere between some 70 and 160 million, mostly depending on whether "German ancestry" is counted (50 million German Americans, including self-reported partial German ancestry in the US census). Of approximately 120 million native speakers of German in the world, roughly 70 million consider themselves Germans (not including 8 million Austrians and 4 million Swiss). German nationality law equates German ethnicity with German nationality, accounting for 65 million Germans in Germany, and more than 1 million German citizens living abroad. The case is complicated by the right of return granted to the so-called Spätaussiedler, non-nationals recognized as ethnic Germans.
  16. ^ The uncertainty is mostly due to the classification of ethnic groups in Turkey, and the identification of Turkish ancestry in the former Ottoman Empire, see Turkish population. The largest diaspora group are the c. 4 million Turks in Germany.
  17. ^ Estimates range from anywhere between 66 to 106 million. The French language has an estimated 75 million native speakers. The CIA Factbook does not report any French ethnicity (considering it a nationality), giving the ethnic composition of France as "Celtic and Latin with Teutonic". [1]
  18. ^ As a nation state, Italy was unified in the 19th century, combining ethnically diverse territories in the Italian peninsula, Sicily and Sardinia.
  19. ^ Figures cited range anywhere between some 60 and 140 million, the latter figure including citizens of Brazil and the United States who identify as of partial Italian ancestry. The Italian language has some 60 million native speakers. [2]
  20. ^ 50 million in Iran, 8 million in Afghanistan, 2 million in Tajikistan, roughly 2 million in diaspora. The Persian language has an estimated 60 million native speakers.
  21. ^ 45 million in England, some 24 million reporting "English ancestry" in the United States, 1.4 million reporting English "ethnic origin" in Canada, and between 7 and 10 million in Australia.
  22. ^ 62 million British nationals; delineation of an ethnic category from the nationality is unclear. The British census uses the racial category White British to identify citizens with ancestry native to Britain.
  23. ^ CIA Factbook (2014) estimates 55 million in India. SIL Ethnologue cites 46 million native speakers of Gujarati. About 1 million in Pakistan and 1 million in the USA.
  24. ^ There is no clear definition of Spanish ethnicity. In Spain, ethnic identity is divided into regional groups, and internationally, Spanish ethnicity is not clearly delineated from "Spanish ancestry" in the territories of the former colonial empire. There are 41 million Spanish nationals in Spain, and some 2 million living abroad.
  25. ^ Portuguese ethnicity is more clear-cut than Spanish ethnicity, but here also, the case is complicated by the Portuguese ancestry of populations in the former colonial empire. Portugal has 11 million nationals. The 42 million figure is due to a study estimating a total of an additional 31 million descendants from Portuguese grandparents; these people would be eligible for Portuguese citizenship under Portuguese nationality law (which grants citizenship to grandchildren of Portuguese nationals). Emigração: A diáspora dos portugueses (2009)
  26. ^ About 30 million in Pakistan and 12 million in Afghanistan; Penzl and Sloan, Pashto Grammar (2009) estimated a total number of Pashto speakers between 40 and 60 million. SIL Ethnologue in 2011 estimated an ethnic population of 49 million.
  27. ^ 36 million in Poland; up to 20 million people claiming "Polish ancestry" (including 9 million Polish Americans) elsewhere.
  28. ^ 37.5 million ethnic Ukrainians in Ukraine (2001 census), 2 million in Russia (2010 census), 0.4 million in Moldova, 0.3 million in Kazakhstan; roughly up to 5 million in diaspora elsewhere (including "non-primary ancestry").
  29. ^ The Irish were predominantly Gaelic-speaking until the 17th century, but significantly anglicized during the early modern period. Since the mid-19th century, the large majority of Irish have been native speakers of English.
  30. ^ c. 7 million in Ireland, about 30 million Irish Americans (including non-primary ancestry), 2 million in Australia (self-declared Irish ancestry), 4.5 million in Canada and up to 1 million in Argentina. The UK census does not record ethnicity (other than generic "White British", and an unknown number of people in the UK identify as Irish (Irish community in Britain, estimated between roughly 1 and 6 million).
  • Levinson, David (1998), Ethnic Groups Worldwide: A Ready Reference Handbook, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 978-1-57356-019-1