World Cultures


The people of Afghanistan are called Afghanis. The Pashtun make up about 43 percent of the population and are often referred to as "true Afghans." The Tajiks comprise nearly 25 percent of the population, the Uzbeks, 6 percent, and the Hazaras, about 5 percent.



The Hazaras live in Afghanistan. Local legends and some native historians trace their ancestry to the biblical figure Yafith (or Japheth), the son of Noah.


Pashtun (also spelled Pushtun, Pakhtun, Pashtoon, Pathan) are a people who live in southeastern Afghanistan and the northwestern province of Pakistan. They are one of the largest ethnic groups in Afghanistan.


The people of Albania are called Albanians. About 98 percent of the population trace their descent to Albania.



Algerians are sometimes referred to as Berbers, descendents of North African peoples related by language and the Islamic faith. In fact, Algerians do not call themselves "Berbers," preferring instead to refer to themselves according to their tribe or the region where they live.


Algeria is one of the countries forming the Maghrib (the western part of north Africa). Its known history can be traced as far back as 30,000 BC.


Andorrans make up only about 30 percent of the population of Andorra. More than half of the population is Spanish, and the remaining population is French (less than 10 percent).


Andorra, a tiny, mountainous nation in western Europe, is an autonomous (self-governing) principality (territory ruled by a prince). This isolated rural region was almost unknown to the outside world until the middle of the twentieth century.


The people of Angola are called Angolans. More than 95 percent of the population of Angola speaks one of the many Bantu languages.


In 1482 the Portuguese established forts and missions along the west coast of the Republic of Angola. King Alphonso of the Kongo converted to Christianity and established friendly relations with Portugal.

Antigua and Barbuda

Approximately 95 percent of Antiguans and Barbudans descended from African slaves. The rest are of European, Asian, Arab, and mixed descent.

Antiguans and Barbudans

The nation of Antigua and Barbuda consists of two islands located in the Caribbean Sea. Christopher Columbus sighted Antigua in 1493 and gave it its original name, Santa María de la Antigua.


The people of Argentina are called Argentines. Most Argentines are of European origin (principally from Spain and Italy).


Argentina gets its name from the Latin word for silver, argentum, and this is what drove the Spanish, the colonial rulers of Argentina, to explore the land during the sixteenth century. Ever since, the country has attracted European immigrants, including Welsh, Basque, English, Italians, and Ukranians.


Ethnic Armenians make up 93 percent of the population of Armenia. About 3 percent of the population are Azerbaijanis, and Kurds and Russians represent about 2 percent each.



Most Australians (94 percent) are of British or Irish ancestry. About 5 percent of the population is of Asian descent.


Australia is relatively young as a country, but it is a very ancient land. For over 40,000 years Aboriginal people lived in harmony there with their environment.

Australian Aborigines

The original inhabitants of the continent of Australia took up residence there at least 40,000 years before Europeans landed at Botany Bay in 1788. In 1788, the Aborigines were clearly the majority, numbering around 300,000.


The people of Austria are called Austrians. Austrians are of mixed European origin.



The people of Azerbaijan are called Azerbaijanis. About 83 percent of the population trace their origin to Azerbaijan.



The people of Bahamas are called Bahamians. Descendants of slaves brought to the Western Hemisphere from Africa make up about 86 percent of the population.


The Bahamas were the first islands to be sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Instead of settling the islands, the Spanish forced the native population there into slavery on neighboring islands.


The people of Bahrain are called Bahrainis. About two- thirds of the population consists of native Bahrainis.



The people of Bangladesh are called Bangladeshis. Some 98 percent of the people are Bengalis (or Banglas).


Modern Bangladesh is thought to have been settled around 1000 BC by people known as the "Bang." This ancient name is seen in modern words such as the country name, Bangladesh. A region of India, Bengal (where Calcutta is located), also takes its name from the Bang.



Chakma is the name of the largest tribe found in the hilly area of eastern Bangladesh known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Their name was first used by British census-takers to describe certain hill people.


About 90 percent of all Barbadians (sometimes called Bajans) are the descendants of former African slaves. Some 5 percent are mulattos (mixed descent) and another 5 percent are white.



The people of Belarus are called Belarusans (sometimes spelled Belarussians). Over three-fourths of the population are native Belarusans; Russians represent 13 percent; Poles, 4 percent; Ukrainians, 3 percent; and Jews, 1 percent.



The people of Belguim are called Belgians. The ancestors of Belgium's present population are believed to have settled there during the fourth century AD.


The history of the Belgian people has made them strong and resourceful. For centuries their land was invaded and occupied by different groups, including the Romans, French, Burgundians, Spanish, Austrian, and Germans.


The Flemings (or Flemish) are Belgium's ethnic majority. They live in the northern part of Belgium, which is called Flanders, and speak the Flemish language, which is closely related to Dutch.


The Walloons, who live in Belgium's southern provinces, are the country's French-speaking inhabitants. Their culture contrasts with that of the Flemings, who inhabit the northern part of the country and speak Flemish, a language similar to Dutch.


The people of Belize are called Belizeans. About one-third of the population is of African descent, while about 45 percent is mestizo (mixed race).




The people of Benin are called the Beninese. There are more than forty-two ethnic groups in Benin.



The people of Bhutan are known as Bhutanese. There are three major ethnic groups: the Bhutia (also Bhotia, or Bhote), comprising roughly 50 percent of the population; the Nepalese, accounting for another 35 percent; and the Assamese, making up 15 percent.



The people of Bolivia are called Bolivians. About 50 percent are Amerindian (native people).


The highlands and jungles of Bolivia have been inhabited for thousands of years, long before the Spanish arrived in the fifteenth century. As a Spanish colony, Bolivia was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru.


Bosnia and Herzegovina

The people who live in Bosnia and Herzegovina are commonly referred to as Bosnians. About half are Muslim, one-third are Serbs, and almost 20 percent are Croats.


"Bosnian" refers to someone who lives in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (This country is usually referred to just as "Bosnia.") In the early 1990s, Yugoslavia broke apart into Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Serbia and Montenegro.