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What are the differences between various ethnicity types?

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Quick Answer

Differences in ethnicities generally include differences in language, history, art, religion, clothing and cuisine. Ethnicity is a social distinction that arises out of common social customs, whereas race is a biological distinction.

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Full Answer

Ethnicity is the term usually given to a cultural group originating in a particular geographical area. However, even after an ethnic group is geographically dispersed, as in the case of the Jewish diaspora, a group may still maintain its ethnic identity. For example, a Chinese person living in America might still identify as ethnically Chinese. Moreover, if people of Chinese ancestry born in the U.S. adopt American culture, for instance by speaking English rather than Chinese, they might identify as ethnically American, even though they may still be racially East Asian.

Some societies, called multi-ethnic or multicultural societies, contain people of various ethnic groups. In the United States, for instance, people of Hispanic or Latino origin are considered to be an ethnic group rather than a race because what identifies them as a group is primarily their ancestral origins in Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking countries. These countries have a variety of racial groups. This is why the U.S. Census distinguishes between Hispanic and non-Hispanic white Americans. The differences between groups are ethnic rather than racial differences, namely language and national origin.

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