What is Ethnicity -what is Religion – what is Tribal Religions- what is Pigmies – what is Eskimos – what is Masai -what is Pigmies

Ethnicity is a concept referring to a shared culture and a way of life. Th is can be refl ected in language, religion, material culture such as clothing and cuisine, and cultural products such as music and art. Ethnicity is oft en a major source of social cohesion and social confl ict. Th e world is home to thousands of diff erent ethnic groups, from the Han Chinese (the largest ethnic group in the world) to the smallest indigenous groups, some of which include only a few dozen people. Almost all of these groups possess a shared history, language, religion, and culture, which provide group members with a common identity. India is a unique country with great diversity in ethnicities, race, religion, language, culture, cuisine and in every other aspect of the human society. Indian civilization is one of the oldest in the world and primarily consists of the Indo-Aryans of North India and the Dravidians of South India, the people of the Indus Valley Civilization while the former migrated to the country at about 1800 BC. As India has such a diverse cultural demographic, it makes sense that the country is also.


Religion is not a vague fear or unknown powers not the child of terror, but rather a relation of all the members of a community to a power that has the good of the community at heart and protects its law and moral order. Religion produces a distinct attitude towards life which aff ects the further development of the society. Indeed most cultural situations show the mutual interaction between religion and socio-economic and politico-cultural factors.

Classifi cation of religion Religion may be classifi ed based on the belief in god. Monotheistic: the followers of monotheism believe in a single god (Islam, Christianity). Polytheistic: the followers of polytheism believe in many gods (Hinduism). Another classifi cation is on the basis of areas of origin such as Eastern religion, Western religion, far Eastern religion, African religion, Indian religion, etc.

Geographers generally classify religions into following;

• Universalizing religions – Christianity, islam, Buddhism.

• Ethnic religions – Hinduism, shintoism (Japan), Chinese faiths, Judaism.

• Tribal or traditional religions – animism, shamanism, secular (non religious and atheists).

Major religions of the world

Major religions of the world are classified based on the followers. They are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Other important religions include Chinese folk religions, Sikhism, Confucianism, Shintoism etc,. Christianity is a universal religion which has the largest number of followers in the world. T hey are spread in Europe, Anglo America, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. Its sacred book is “Bible”. Islam is the second largest religion of the world. The largest concentration of the Islam is in the South West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and South East Asia Followed by the North Africa. Shia and Sunni are its two main sects. Its sacred book is Kuran. Hinduism is the oldest ethnic religion of the world which was founded about 3000 B.C (B.C.E) in India. Today it has over 8 million followers in the world but main concentration is in India and Nepal. Nearly 99 percent of the total Hindu population is concentrated in south Asia. Its sacred book is Bhagavad Gita. Buddhism is also one of the oldest religions of India which was founded by Lord Buddha around 525 B.C (B.C.E). Its spread in several Asian countries (China, Myanmar, India, Srilanka, japan, Mangolia, korea and South East Asian countries) due to its liberal philosophy. Its two main sects are Hinayana and Mahayana. Judaism is the oldest Monotheistic faith which is regarded as the parent of Christianity. It originates 4000 years ago in the Middle East. At present it has about 14 million followers living in U.S.A, Europe and Asia. Chinese religions include two main beliefs called Confucianism and tao-ism. Confucianism was established by Confucious (551-479 B.C (BCE)). Taoism was established by Lao Tse (604-517 B.C (BCE)). Jainism is also born in India as a reaction to orthodox Hinduism. It was founded by Lord Mahavir who was a Contemporary of Lord Buddha. Its followers are mostly concentrated in India. It is an offshoot of Hinduism which was established in the 15th century by Guru Nanak. It remained confined to Punjab state and has accepted Gurumukhi as its language.

Tribal Religions

Tribal religions are the special forms of ethnic religion. The tribal people are generally in the Neolithic stage of social development. Tribal people are strikingly different and diverse in their culture, social and economic life. They cherish their own distinct and have maintained a close relationship to the land and natural environment. Most of them live according to their traditions and are engaged in food gathering, hunting, fishing, primitive agriculture etc, there are about 300 million indigenous people worldwide, constituting about four percent of the total population of the world living in more than sixty countries.

Tribal Distribution in world

Some major tribal group of the world particularly who are living and struggling

1. Equatorial Forest region: Pigmy, Semang, Sakai, Boro, Papuan, etc.

2. Grasslands: Masai, Kyrghizs, etc.

3. Tropical deserts: Bedowin, Bushman, Aborigines etc.

4. Mountainous region: Bhotia, gujjar, Naga etc.

5. Monsoon regions: Gonds, Santhals, Todas, Bhils, etc.

6. Arctic cold regions: Eskimo, Lapp, Alute, Chukchi etc.


The pigmies are Negroid people and are also called Negrillos. They are short stature, f lat nosed, wooly haired, long headed and black people. The average height of men and women are found 150cm. So they are also called dwarf. T he pigmies are those who live in scattered parts of tropical Central Africa. They are found in many sub-groups in the equatorial forest region of Africa mainly in Congo basin 3ºN and 3ºS latitudes along both sides of the equator. In addition some groups of Pigmies are also found in the forests of Philippines and New Guinea.


The Masai of east Africa belong to the pastoral society and are known as the best and most typical cattle herders not only of Africa but also of the world. Masai people are tall and slender with ling feet, hands and fingers. Their skin colour ranges from light chocolate to dark brown. They have high and long head, thin face and nose. Their lips are less thick than that of Negroid people. Masai occupy the interior plateau of the equatorial Africa. The territory of the Masai lies between 1ºN and 6ºS latitudes and covers all the rift valleys in this region.


In Arabic, Bedouin means desert dwellers. T he Bedouins are most important among the tribal of South West-Asia and North Africa. T hey are pastoral nomads and keep camel, sheep, goats, horse etc. The Bedouins occupy the desert areas of the Arabian Peninsula including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Syria and Jordan. The Bedouins belongs to the mixture of Mediterranean and Armenian races. They are medium stature people with long narrow face, prominent nose, dark eyes and hair. Their complexion is wheatish to pale.


Bushman is the tribal people of Kalahari Desert in southern Africa who are still engaged in hunting and gathering economics. They are on constant run for both food and water. Their homeland Kalahari Desert lies in Botswana, Namibia and southern Angola. The bushman territory is a wide plateau about 2000 meters above the sea level with sub tropical climate. T he bushman are included in the Negroid stock. They are very short in stature and have long head, short and flat ears, and yellowish brown complexion. On the whole the Negroid characteristics prevail among the Bushman.


Eskimos also called Inuits are tribes of tundra cold region in Canadian northland, Alaska, Greenland and north-eastern Siberian coastal region. The Eskimos are Mongoloid race. The main physical characteristics of the Eskimos are short stature, Flat narrow face, small snub nose, yellow –brown complexion and coarse straight black hair. Hunting and fishing are the main occupations of the Eskimos. They live in igloo and practice hunting way known as Maupak. The Eskimos wear clothes of caribous or reindeers skin and other furs.

Eskimos are migratory by nature and construct ice houses called Igloos. For travelling on ice shield the Eskimos use sledge which is usually built either of whale bone or of wood whichever is available. It is drawn by two or more dogs, caribous or rain deer.Eskimos are migratory by nature and construct ice houses called Igloos. For travelling on ice shield the Eskimos use sledge which is usually built either of whale bone or of wood whichever is available. It is drawn by two or more dogs, caribous or rain deer.

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