Ethnic groups in Europe

Europeans are the focus of European ethnology, the field of anthropology related to the various indigenous groups that reside in the nations of Europe. Groups may be defined by common genetic ancestry, common language, or both. According to the German monograph Minderheitenrechte in Europa co-edited by Pan and Pfeil (2002) there are 87 distinct indigenous peoples of Europe, of which 33 form the ethnic majority population in at least one sovereign state, while the remaining 54 constitute ethnic minorities. The total number of national or linguistic minority populations in Europe is estimated at 105 million people, or 14% of 770 million Europeans.[1] The Russians are the most populous among Europeans, with a population over 134 million.[2] There are no universally accepted and precise definitions of the terms "ethnic group" and "nationality". In the context of European ethnography in particular, the terms ethnic group, people, nationality and ethno-linguistic group, are used as mostly synonymous, although preference may vary in usage with respect to the situation specific to the individual countries of Europe.[3]

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

Both Spain and the United Kingdom are special cases, in that the designation of nationality, Spanish and British, may controversially[citation needed] 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 discussed in terms of both ethnicity and language affiliations.

Of the total population of Europe of some 740 million (as of 2010), close to 90% (or some 650 million) fall within three large branches of Indo-European languages, these being;

Three stand-alone Indo-European languages do not fall within larger sub-groups and are not closely related to those larger language families;

In addition, there are also smaller sub-groups within the Indo-European languages of Europe, including;

Besides the Indo-European languages, there are other language families on the European continent which are wholly unrelated to Indo-European:

The Basques have been found to descend from the population of the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age directly.[6][7] The Indo-European groups of Europe (the Centum groups plus Balto-Slavic and Albanian) are assumed to have developed in situ by admixture of Bronze Age, proto-Indo-European groups with earlier Mesolithic and Neolithic populations, after migrating to most of Europe from the Pontic steppe (Yamnaya culture, Corded ware, Beaker people).[8][9][10] The Finnic peoples are assumed to also be descended from Proto-Uralic populations further to the east, nearer to the Ural Mountains, that had migrated to their historical homelands in Europe by about 3,000 years ago.[11]

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, Lemnian, and perhaps Camunic. 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.

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

Map showing the distribution of Slavic tribes between the 7th-9th centuries AD.

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

The earliest accounts of European ethnography date from 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. A number of authors like Diodorus Siculus, Pausanias and Sallust depict the ancient Sardinian and Corsican peoples.

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 and 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 (concerning languages, peoples, realms, war 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 one of the earliest ethno-linguistic map of Europe, showing the beginning of the pater noster in the various European languages and scripts.[13][14] 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.[15]

The origins of modern ethnography are often traced to the work of Bronisław Malinowski, who emphasized the importance of fieldwork.[16] 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, Sardinians 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."[17][18][19]

The total number of national minority populations in Europe is estimated at 105 million people, or 14% of Europeans.[1]

The member states of the Council of Europe in 1995 signed the . 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 had signed and ratified the Convention, with the notable exception of France.

Many non-European ethnic groups and nationalities have migrated to Europe over the centuries. Some arrived centuries ago. However, the vast majority arrived more recently, mostly in the 20th and 21st centuries. Often, they come from former colonies of the British, Dutch, French, Portuguese and Spanish empires.

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 based on the sixth-century Frankish Table of Nations 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.

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

European culture is largely rooted in what is often referred to as its "common cultural heritage".[57] 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.[58] Nonetheless, there are core elements which are generally agreed upon as forming the cultural foundation of modern Europe.[59] One list of these elements given by K. Bochmann includes:[60]

Berting says that these points fit with "Europe's most positive realisations".[62] 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.[63] 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.

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 Northern Europe, and Orthodoxy to East and South Slavic regions, Romania, Moldova, Greece, and Georgia. The Armenian Apostolic Church, part of the Oriental Church, is also in Europe – another branch of Christianity (world's oldest National Church). Catholicism, while typically centered in Western Europe, also has a very significant following in Central Europe (especially among the Germanic, Western Slavic and Hungarian peoples/regions) as well as in Ireland (with some in Great Britain).

Christianity has been the dominant religion shaping European culture for at least the last 1700 years.[64][65][66][67][68] Modern philosophical thought has very much been influenced by Christian philosophers such as St Thomas Aquinas and Erasmus. And throughout most of its history, Europe has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture,[69] The Christian culture was the predominant force in western civilization, guiding the course of philosophy, art, and science.[70][71] The notion of "Europe" and the "Western World" has been intimately connected with the concept of "Christianity and Christendom" many even attribute Christianity for being the link that created a unified European identity.[72]

Christianity is still the largest religion in Europe; according to a 2011 survey, 76.2% of Europeans considered themselves Christians.[73][74] 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.[75] As of 2010 Catholics were the largest Christian group in Europe, accounting for more than 48% of European Christians. The second-largest Christian group in Europe were the Orthodox, who made up 32% of European Christians. About 19% of European Christians were part of the Protestant tradition.[76] Russia is the largest Christian country in Europe by population, followed by Germany and Italy.[76]

Islam has some tradition in the Balkans and the Caucasus due to conquest and colonization from the Ottoman Empire in the 16th to 19th centuries, as well as earlier though discontinued long-term presence in much of Iberia as well as Sicily. Muslims account for the majority of the populations in Albania, Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Northern Cyprus (controlled by Turks), and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Significant minorities are present in the rest of Europe. Russia also 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%),[77][78] while the total number of Muslims in the European Union in 2007 was about 16 million (3.2%).[79]

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 Central 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 as well as the Balkans 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. The Jewish population of Europe in 2010 was estimated to be approximately 1.4 million (0.2% of European population) or 10% of the world's Jewish population.[80] In the 21st century, France has the largest Jewish population in Europe,[80][81] followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.[81]

In modern times, significant secularization since the 20th century, notably in secularist France, Estonia and the 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[82] found that 52% of EU citizens believe in God. According to a Pew Research Center Survey in 2012 the Religiously Unaffiliated (Atheists and Agnostics) make up about 18.2% of the European population in 2010.[83] According to the same Survey the Religiously Unaffiliated make up the majority of the population in only two European countries: Czech Republic (76%) and Estonia (60%).[83]

"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 of 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 member 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.[84]

Pan and Pfeil (2002) distinguish 33 peoples which form the majority population in at least one[a].[b] These majorities range from nearly homogeneous populations as in Armenia and Poland, to comparatively slight majorities as in Latvia or Belgium, or even the marginal majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Montenegro is a multiethnic state in which no group forms a majority.