Understanding Ethnicity Definition

Discover the meaning of ethnicity, its impact on identity, and the significance of cultural heritage in today’s diverse world.

What is ethnicity?

Ethnicity refers to a shared cultural heritage, including language, traditions, religion, and ancestry, that unite people into a distinct group. While race is related to physical characteristics, ethnicity is more about culture and identity.

Types of Ethnicity

  • Native American
  • African American
  • Latino/Hispanic
  • Asian American

Examples of Ethnicity

For example, someone who identifies as Irish-American maintains a strong connection to Irish culture and traditions, even though they were born and raised in the United States. This shared cultural identity helps form a sense of belonging and community.

Case Studies

In South Africa, the concept of ethnicity has played a significant role in the country’s history. The apartheid system classified people into different racial groups, leading to racial segregation and discrimination.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States is becoming increasingly diverse, with a growing number of people identifying as multiracial or multiethnic. This trend highlights the importance of understanding and respecting different ethnicities in society.

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