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Ethnic groups in Europe facts for kids

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Simplified Languages of Europe map
Overview map of the distribution of the major languages of Europe.

The Indigenous peoples of Europe are the focus of European ethnology, the field of anthropology related to the various indigenous 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 or linguistic 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, nationality or 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.


There are eight European ethno-linguistic groups 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. 67 million),
  4. British (c. 65 million),
  5. Italians (60 million),
  6. Spanish (c. 50 million),
  7. Ukrainians (38–55 million),
  8. Poles (38–40 million).

About 20–25 million residents (3%)[year needed] 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".

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