Ethnic groups in Europe  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

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.

Contents

History

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 Sami peoples are indigenous to northeastern Europe, while the other Finnic Peoples arrived later during the Bronze Age. Reconstructed languages of Iron Age Europe include Proto-Celtic, Proto-Italic and Proto-Germanic, all of these Indo-European languages of the centum group, and Proto-Slavic and Proto-Baltic, of the satem group. A group of Tyrrhenian languages appears to have included Etruscan, Rhaetian and perhaps also Eteocretan and Eteocypriot. A pre-Roman stage of Proto-Basque can only be reconstructed with great uncertainty.

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

Historical populations

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

Historical immigration

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

History of European ethnography

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

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

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

Book IX of Isidore's Etymologiae (7th century) treats de linguis, gentibus, regnis, militia, civibus (of languages, peoples, realms, armies and cities). Ahmad ibn Fadlan in the 10th century gives an account of the peoples of Eastern Europe, in particular the Bolghar 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."


European identity

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 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

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 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 Germanic regions and Great Britain (with some in Ireland), and Orthodoxy to Slavic regions, Romania, Greece and Georgia. 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 Albania, Former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria 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%. (With millions of jews killed during WW2 , the Holocaust has contributed to the small population percentages.) The Jewish population of Europe is comprised primarily of two groups, the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi. Ancestors of Ashkenazi Jews likely migrated to the middle of Europe at least as early as the 8th century, while Sephardi Jews established themselves in Spain and Portugal at least one thousand years before that. Jews originated in the Levant thousands of years ago and spread around the Mediterranean and into Europe. Jewish European history was notably affected by the Holocaust and emigration (including Aliyah, as well as emigration to America) in the 20th century.

In modern times, significant secularization has taken place, notably in laicist France in the 19th century and in Communist Eastern Europe in the 20th century such as Estonia and Eastern Germany . 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 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




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ethnic groups in Europe" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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