Three-tier system, meaning a system that has three distinct levels.
High Tier Countries (in alphabetical order):
Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom (UK)
Middle Tier Countries (in alphabetical order):
Andorra, Belgium, Estonia, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Russia and San Marino
Low Tier Countries (in alphabetical order):
Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia (FYROM), Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine
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 some 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:
- Russians (c. 99 million residing in Europe),
- Germans (c. 93 million),
- French (c. 75 million),
- British (c. 66 million),
- Italians (c. 60 million),
- Ukrainians (38–55 million),
- Spanish (41–50 million),
- Polish (38–45 million).
Smaller ethno-linguistic groups with more than 10 million people residing in Europeinclude:
- Romanians (20–25 million),
- Dutch (15–25 millon),
- Turks (10–20 million in Europe),
- Portuguese (10–15 million),
- Swedes (10–15 million),
- Greeks (10–15 million),
- Serbs (c. 12 million),
- Czechs (c. 10 million),
- Hungarians (c. 10 million),
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 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;
- Balto-Slavic, including Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Croatian, Macedonian, Czech, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Slovenian, Serbian, Slovak, Belarusian, Ruthenian, Latvian, and Lithuanian.
- Romance, including; Italian, French, Spanish, Romanian, Portuguese, Catalan, Corsican, Friulian, Aromanian, Walloon, Romansh, Latin, and Sardinian.
- Germanic, including; English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Flemish, Luxembourgish, Icelandic, Frisian, Limburgish, Low Saxon and Faeroese. Afrikaans, a daughter language of Dutch, is spoken by some South African and Namibian migrant populations.
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;
- Celtic (including Welsh, Breton, Irish Gaelic, Scots Gaelic, Cornish and Manx)
- Iranic, mainly Ossetian in Europe, as well as Kurdish (spoken mainly in Turkey)
- Indo-Aryan is represented by the Romani language spoken by Roma people of eastern Europe, and is at root related to the Indo-Aryan languages of the Indian sub-Continent.
Besides the Indo-European languages, there are other language families on the European continent which are wholly unrelated to Indo-European:
- Uralic languages, including; Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Mordvin, Samoyedic, Sami, Komi, Udmurt and Mari.
- Turkic languages, including; Turkish, Azeri, Tatar, Nogai, Bashkir and Chuvash.
- Semitic languages, including; Maltese, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic spoken in parts of eastern Turkey and the Caucasus by Assyrian Christians, and Hebrew, the latter spoken by some Jewish populations.
- Kartvelian languages (also known as South Caucasian languages), including Georgian, Mingrelian, Zan, Svan and Laz.
- Northwest Caucasian languages, including; Circassian, Kabardian, Ubykh, Adyghe, Abkhaz and Abaza.
- Northeast Caucasian languages, including; Chechen, Avar, Lak, Lezgian, Ingush and Nakho-Dagestanian.
- Language isolates; Basque, spoken in the Basque regions of Spain and France is an isolate language, the only one in Europe, and is unrelated to any other language, living or extinct.
- Mongolic languages exist in the form of Kalmyk spoken in the Caucasus region of Russia.
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