20 Types of Ethnic Groups of the World: Characteristics and Origins

The Ethnicities Are a group or community of people that have a series of characteristics in common, whether genetic, historical, religious, cultural or language among others. There are dozens of types of ethnicities on every continent, each with their particular physical customs and characteristics.

According to the noted English sociologist Anthony Giddens,"ethnicity are cultural practices and perspectives that distinguish a given community of people. Members of ethnic groups see themselves as culturally different from other groupings in one society and are perceived by others in the same way.

20 ethnicities of the world and their main characteristics

1- The Celts


The Celts were a group of tribal societies linked by the same language, religion and a similar culture that developed in the Iron Age and medieval Europe. Celtic culture began to develop in 1200 BC. And spread to the British Isles, Spain, France and other parts of Europe.

At the moment"Celtic"refers to people descendants of this culture that spread in 7 European regions and that have preserved their language, folklore and meals. The Celtic League is a league of 7 nations that retain Celtic cultural roots.

In the region of Asturias, where Celtic tribes lived and fought against the Romans and Moors in the Iron Age, Celtic traits are still preserved in their folklore, where they use bagpipes and in their meals, such as la fabada, a bean soup White, made from farm fabe, bean that only grows in the area.

In the Celtic region of Brittany located on the northwest coast of France, folklore customs are maintained linked to Camelot and even celebrates the week of King Arthur.

In Cornwall, considered as a Celtic nation for its linguistic and cultural manifestations, is Tintagel, the castle of King Arthur and in the region are kept alive many legends around this Celtic leader who faced the Saxon invasion.

In the Celtic region of Wales, the Celtic language has been preserved almost intact. Several legends are conserved around the magician Merlin, who is said to have been born in Carmarthen.

2 - The Armenians


Armenians are a people of Indo-European race, considered as one of the oldest ethnic groups in history. The Armenians were born as ethnic with the formation of the kingdom of Ararat between centuries IX and VI a.C.

In the year 383 AD converts to Christianity. They were the first state to proclaim themselves Christian. It is estimated that there are currently 10 million Armenians and only a little over 3 million live in the Armenian state. Although the other 7 million Armenians live in all regions of the world, especially in North America and Russia, the Armenian people preserve their customs and traditions.

They maintain their own alphabet, which was created in AD 406. The Armenian language syntactic construction and articulation corresponds to the Indo-European family of languages. The Armenians also developed their own musical system called"Khaz", the same one still is taught in the schools of Armenia.

Among the Armenian artistic manifestations are its famous carpets (especially valued Kazakh and Karabakh carpets), made by hand and whose intense reds have been created since ancient times by a dye that derives from a local insect called"ordan"found in the Mount Ararat Valley.

Mount Ararat is very important for the Armenian culture and many of its legends are developed in this mountain. The most famous of the legends is the belief that the ark of Noah was stationed at the foot of Mount Ararat after the end of the universal flood.

3- The Tuareg


The Tuareg are a nomadic people who represent one of the most well-known Berber ethnic groups. They inhabit a wide area that includes the North and Western Sahara.

The Tuareg language (Tamahaq), is a southern Berber language that has different dialects depending on the region. His system of writing is the Tamajaq or Shifinagh, which descends directly from the original Berber script used by the Numidians in pre-Roman times.

Tuareg society is a society of classes, with nobility (free men) and vassals (many of them slaves). The Tuareg are matrilineal and although they adopted Islam as a religion, women do not wear a veil, whereas men do. The most famous symbol of the Tuareg man is the Tagelmust, a veil of indigo blue that is said to ward off the evil spirits, but which has surely been adopted as protection against the desert sand.

Among his crafts are finely crafted swords called Takaba and beautiful gold and silver necklaces called Takaza.

As a nomadic people, their current situation is uncertain and some Tuareg live in settlements much like refugee camps.

Currently many Tuareg are great artisans, farmers and nomadic ranchers and there are still camel caravan leaders. They live in tents made of camel hide that they carry everywhere because of their nomadic character.

4- The Hunza


In the Hunza Valley there lives an ethnic group that has attracted attention because its members live to 120 years. The Hunza, a village of about 40 thousand inhabitants, enjoy health such that Hunza women are fertile until the age of 60 and men over 100 remain active in agricultural activities and grazing.

They differ racially from other ethnic groups in Pakistan and have European traits, with many historical accounts claiming to be direct descendants of the King of Macedonia, Alexander the Great and his troops.

The Hunza people have one of the highest literacy rates compared to other peoples of Pakistan. Research indicates that the longevity of the Hunza people is directly linked to their diet.

They eat meat only once a week and during 3 months of spring, they only eat vegetables and fruits, drink little milk for the absence of livestock and do not spice up their meals or drink coffee, tea or alcoholic beverages.

Water from the Himalayan rivers seems to have a beneficial health effect in this population where diseases such as cancer are not known.

5- The Jews


Jewish ethnicity is defined partly by its descent and partly by its religion, culture and traditions. Jews are said to be the people of Judah, and the Jewish law considers Jews only to be born of Jewish womb and those who convert to the Jewish religion under the halachic supervision or special court presided over by three dayanim or judges.

Despite being a persecuted people, the current Jewish population ranges between 12 and 15 million and are characterized by preserving their language, traditions and religion wherever they are.

There are 3 Jewish ethnic groups:

  • The Ashkenazi: Jews from Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Russia whose language is Yiddish.
  • The Sephardim: Jews of Spain and Portugal. Their language is the Ladino, a dialect of Castilian.
  • The Misrajim are the Jews of the communities of the Middle East, mainly Yemen, Iraq and Iran.

They are the first monotheistic people in history. They commemorate Easter as a celebration of the freedom they achieved when they left Egypt, celebrating Pentecost, when they were given the laws of God on Mount Sinai and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles that evokes the time spent in the desert.

They wear the kipá or solideo, cap that reminds them that God is always on the men. The important religious events of the Jewish people are the Sabbath or Sabbath of rest remembering that their God rests on the seventh day, the Bar Mitzvah or celebration of adolescence on a Saturday after turning 13 where the young man should read the Torah and the Yom Kippur Or day of forgiveness, where the Jews fast and ask for forgiveness for their sins.

6- The Kalash

Image track: Olivier Matthys / EPA Image track: Olivier Matthys / EPA

They are a pagan town that lives in the area of ​​Chitral in Pakistan and is said to be descendants of King Alexander the Great and his troops. It is an ethnic group at the threshold of extinction since there is only a population between 3 thousand and 6 thousand people.

They live almost isolated, do not have many rules of life and are frowned upon by Pakistanis because of their pagan status far from Islam.

Its folklore is closely linked to the folklore of ancient Greece and a large majority of the Kalash are usually blond with blue eyes. They make a living by tending cattle and raising goats, and they also grow wheat, maize, rice, and sow grapes.

Their houses are of stone, they do not have water, which they bring of the rivers and they do not own bathrooms.

They celebrate fecundity, the arrival of summer and at the winter solstice they sacrifice numerous goats on the altar of the"great God."

They have different gods to whom they build altars. In all their celebrations men and women dance to the sound of flutes and drums. Marriage is not arranged and if women are mistreated, they can resort to divorce.

7- The Korowai


The Korowai are a tribe that lives on the banks of the Brazza River in Papua New Guinea. Until 1970 it was a totally isolated town and has impacted the world to construct floating villages in the tip of the trees and for being cannibals.

There are approximately 3,000 people who are part of this tribe and live in groups of 10 to 12 people. They do not know the electricity, the roads and have no contact with the modern world.

They kill and eat the"khakhua"or individuals considered witches who bring calamities to their people.

Paul Raffaele, an anthropologist who was accepted by the head of the korowai tribe, has described his customs and beliefs. The korowai deny eating humans, since it says that they only eat"Khakhuas"or evil spirits who lodge in some members of their tribe.

They eat their human flesh wrapped in banana leaves and eat everything except the nails, the bones and the penis. Their homes can be built up to 40 meters above the ground in the treetops. The Korowai are excellent hunters and horticulturists.

8- The Arawaks


They constitute the group of ancestral indigenous peoples settled in the Greater Antilles and South America. The Tainos, a subgroup of the Arawak ethnic group, were among the first native peoples found by Christopher Columbus and they were victims of a genocide that practically extinguished them all in the Antilles zone.

Currently, about 15 thousand Arawaks or Arawaks live in South America. His tongue, the arawak, still survives. They were and still are mainly farmers, cultivate for their subsistence cassava, guava, passion fruit, granadilla, orange, lemon. Corn, potato, onion, garlic, bean, cabbage , Lettuce, blackberry, tree tomatoes, squash, wheat and vegetables.

They believe in the spirits of their ancestors and profess a cult of respect for the land, rivers, and lagoons they consider sacred. There is a settlement of 40 thousand arahuacos settled in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta. They raise small-scale chickens, cattle, goats and sheep. They are coffee producers.

9- The Karen


They are a Tibetan-Burmese ethnic minority living in southern Burma and refugee camps in northern Thailand. In 1990 they were recognized as a people displaced by operations of the Burma government army.

They have a single chief, who is usually the oldest of the tribe and who counts on total obedience. In order to get married, they use mediators and the normal age for marriage is 25 years.

Funerals are joyful celebrations, since according to their traditions the spirit must be guided to a new life with happiness and also to cheer the afflicted relatives.

For the Karen,"Pgho"is the supernatural force that rules men and things. The"padaung"women in the Karen tribe are women whose neck should be slender and ornate given the tradition and therefore called"giraffe women".

The stretching of the neck of these women is forced through their lives using brass hoops to achieve a stylized and long neck.

10- Kalbelias or Thar gypsies


The Kalbelias are a semi-nomadic ethnic group that are mostly located in the Thar Desert, Rajasthan. They are very proud of having"snake charmers"ancestors. They still trade with snakes and are often excellent craftsmen, dancers and musicians.

For their interpretations they use the typical instruments of Rajasthan as they are the table, the sarangi, the harmonium, the kartal (species of castanets), the sâtara, the morchang, the dholak, the kamaicha, and the pungi.

Their languages ​​are Hindi and Marwari. They used to be a people rejected by society and always lived on the outskirts of the villages in tents or mobile shops called"deras".

They have always been dedicated to the world of entertainment to make a living, men play music and women dance. They have also been herbalists, curing diseases with the use of herbal medicines. Given that their music and songs are products of oral tradition, they were declared intangible heritage of UNESCO.

11- The Berbers

20 Types of Ethnic Groups of the World: Characteristics and Origins

The Berbers are an African ethnic group that spread through North Africa and especially Egypt, being considered the first inhabitants of these zones and occupying it for five thousand years.

His language is Tamazight and has its own writing system called tifinagh. His name was given by the Romans referring to this town as"barbarians"(hence the origin of"Berber"). They are farmers and have always been engaged in trade.

The Berbers developed a unique architecture in the hills of Jebel Nefusa, building very interesting underground houses. Currently the Berber people are Muslim but believe in the presence of spirits called"djinns". For the Berbers, drinking and serving tea is a very important social ritual in their culture.

12- The Masai

20 Types of Ethnic Groups of the World: Characteristics and Origins 1

The Masai are an ethnic group with approximately one million members living in Kenya and Tanzania. They are a nomadic people of shepherds in huts called"manyattas"without windows, made of mud, straw and bricks that are made with animal excrement.

They have perfectly defined social classes where each class has its duties and rights very defined. They speak a dialect called"Maa"and are characterized by having large holes in the ears that are made with an ax in their adolescent age.

It is a people who self-supply, feeding on the milk and blood of the cattle and dressing themselves in the skins of their animals.

They are a hierarchical society where the number of children and cattle determines the social class and position of power in their tribe. They are polygamous and celebrate the arrival of adult warriors at the age of 30. In the past, they were considered fearsome warriors, to the point that, to ask for marriage to a woman, they had to offer the testicles of an enemy.

Nowadays, the Masai welcome tourists, speak English and entertain outsiders with their beautiful dances where, as a sign of manhood, men make jumps in the air with great skill.

13- The Urus

20 Types of Ethnic Groups of the World: Characteristics and Origins 2

They are an ethnic group that lives in about 80 floating islands in Lake Titicaca, between Peru and Bolivia. They were forced to build these floating islands to avoid a war with the Incas, who displaced them from their original lands.

Their way of life is primitive, the men take care of the hunting and the fishing and the women to raise the children and to cook. They have beautiful rites to celebrate the Earth, which they call"La Pachamama"and where they also have specific rites to worship the spirit of the lake.

The floating islands that are interconnected, are built with a reed of the same lake called"totora". They are great craftsmen and make really beautiful fabrics. They have a maximum leader and each island has its President who is elected in a democracy.

14- The bribri

20 Types of Ethnic Groups of the World: Characteristics and Origins 3

They are an indigenous group living in Talamanca, Costa Rica. It is a town that is characterized by being independent and self-sufficient. To live they sow in the orchards of their own houses, cassava, banana, cocoa and some vegetables and vegetables. They have pens with chickens and pigs which constitute their main source of food.

They communicate in their own language called equally bribri and it is estimated that this language is spoken by about two thousand or three thousand people. Their houses are straw or wood and their huts are often separated from each other up to an hour's drive.

The bribri grandmothers are responsible for transmitting the language, traditions and customs. They practice their own animist religion and can be said to be the oldest in the Costa Rican territory.

15- The Wayuu or Guajiros

20 Types of Ethnic Groups of the World: Characteristics and Origins 4

They are an ethnic group that inhabit the peninsula of the Guajira of Venezuela and Colombia. They are shepherds and artisans and women are expert weavers, who create hammocks with beautiful traditional designs of their culture. They also work in salt mines.

They are grouped in clans and the most powerful authority of each family is the maternal type. His tongue descends from the Arawak languages. They are polygamous and the guajiros with purchasing power have more than one wife, which increases their status and gives them social prestige.

The elders are highly respected in Guajira society and it is said that when the guajiros die, they will live in the world of the dead called"jepira". An important figure in Guajira society are the shamans, who use traditional medicine, although the guajiros live near civilization and can opt for modern medicine.

For the Wayuu ethnicity, dreams have great significance and govern the occurrence of their lives as they claim to be messages from their ancestors.

16- The Lusitanians

20 Types of Ethnic Groups of the World: Characteristics and Origins 5

The Lusitanians were a group of people from a Celtic tribe who arrived in the Iberian Peninsula along with other Celtic tribes when they began their migrations around 3000 BC.

It is believed that the Celts originate from what is now the Czech Republic and Germany, places from which began an immense migration in all directions of Europe, settling in the Iberian Peninsula where today is Portugal and Spain.

The Lusitanian Celts are thought to come from the Celtic tribes that came from the Swiss mountains of modern Switzerland.

The Lusitanian ethnic group is Indo-European and their language is believed to be an independent language. The lusitanos fed on bread made with acorn flour and goat's meat. They were a people who practiced human sacrifices and used to amputate the hands of their prisoners.

It should be noted that the Portuguese and the Portuguese who currently occupy Portugal do not have the same ethnic origin. The Lusitanians are now in the central region of Portugal and some still speak the old proto-Celtic Lusitanian language"Leukantu".

Although the customs of the two ethnic groups that have lived together for centuries in Portugal are mixed and even some say that the Portuguese usurped the Portuguese identity, it can be said that they have always been a wine town.

Preserved a famous carnival that is celebrated from medieval times where the political and social satire is represented by men dressed as women called"Marafonas". The Lusitanians today, are Catholics and have a great devotion for the Virgin of Fatima.

17- The Vadoma

20 Types of Ethnic Groups in the World: Characteristics and Origins 6

The Vadoma ethnic group is a village in the Zambezi river valley in Zimbabwe. Its approximate population is of 18 thousand people and its main language is Shona.

They are a tribe that has remained quite isolated, fact that has developed a rare condition called ectrodactilia or"ostrich feet", a frequent disorder in this ethnic group.

Although mostly Christian, they also practice a religion called Mwari. Mwari is your Creator God, responsible for bringing the rains that are scavenging in the region and is also the God responsible for ensuring good health and success in any endeavor.

Vadomas believe in magic and witchcraft, which they practice commonly and in fact the condition of"ostrich feet"is considered a curse in that tribe.

18- The piranhas

20 Types of Ethnic Groups of the World: Characteristics and Origins 7

It is a peculiar tribe of a little more than 200 members who live on the banks of the river Maici, in the Amazon, Brazil. Its language is at the same time simple and strange, where although without numbers, colors, without tenses and with only 8 consonants can communicate to perfection.

They are a tribe with little interest in other cultures, have no religion or have developed artistic manifestations such as painting or sculpture. They live from fishing and only deal with present problems without thinking about the future. They lack collective memory, myths and do not know how to add or count.

19- The bodi

20 Types of Ethnic Groups of the World: Characteristics and Origins 8

They are also called"the obese tribe"and are an ethnic group that lies in southwest Ethiopia, on the banks of the Omo River. They are semi-nomadic, sedentary and agriculturists and they adore cows, since they are a symbol of wealth and prosperity.

Their language is the Mekan and have used an alphabet called Ge'ez, although at present they adopted the Latin alphabet.

For this tribe, fat is a symbol of well-being so each year in June, they choose the most obese man, who gets respect and recognition for life. The men who compete in this ceremony, are fattened for a period of 6 months, period in which they remain isolated, sexless, overeating and taking large amounts of cow's blood mixed with milk.

The winner is named"King for a Day"and is given to the most beautiful woman of the tribe. The bodi have their own music called"gulay", very merry tunes that accompany with dances and an alcoholic drink that they produce in their houses called"sholu".

20- The awa

20 Types of Ethnic Groups of the World: Characteristics and Origins 9

The Awa are an ethnic group that has binational presence in Ecuador and Colombia. They speak the awapít language, a language of Chibcha origin. They are about 13 thousand inhabitants, are engaged in agriculture, fishing and livestock.

His clothes are now Western. Among their customs is the use of bodoquera or blowgun as a hunting instrument. In their musical representations they use the marimba, interpreting melodies of joyful rhythms.

Unfortunately, the Awa Indians have been displaced from their ancestral lands because of internal conflicts in Colombia and currently occupy a place on the list of the 35 indigenous peoples at risk of extinction in Colombia.


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  2. Friendly Borders. (2016). World Ethnic Group. Friendly Borders
  3. M, Herrera. (2010). Lusitania. 26-12-2016, de Herrera, M Organization
  4. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. The Bodi and the ceremony of the fattest man. 26-12-2016, of Collective Culture
  5. Foer, J... (2016). The Uros People of Lake Titicaca. 26-12-2016, from Atlas Obscura
  6. Maimai, O.. (2013). Maasai People. 26-12-2016, Maasai Association
  7. Torres Rodriguez, A.. (2009). Bribris. 26-12-2016, by Centzuntli Blogspot
  8. Vale, J.. (2012). Wayuu Indians. 26-12-2016, from Indigenous Civilizations blogspot
  9. Roman, A. (2009). Music in Tartessos and in the pre-Roman towns of Iberia. 26-12-2016, from Lulu.com
  10. Mail / Efe. (2016). Tradition rules in the Lusitanian Carnival. 26-12-2016, of The tradition orders in the Carnival lusitano
  11. UNESCO. (2010). Folk songs and dances from the kalbelias of Rajasthan. 26-12-2016, UNESCO

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