The people of Japan are called Japanese. The one distinct ethnic group in Japan, the Ainu, live on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.


The Japanese islands have been inhabited by humans since Paleolithic times. Archaeologists there have discovered some of the oldest pottery known to exist.


Until 400 years ago, the Ainu controlled Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's four main islands. Today they are a small minority group of Japan.


The people of Jordan are called Jordanians. Most of the population trace their heritage to more than one of the many people that lived in Jordan throughout history, including Greeks, Egyptianss, Persians, Europeans, and Africans.


The land of Jordan lies along an ancient and well-used trade route, making it geographically valuable. Many powers have ruled the land, under many different names.


The people of Kazakstan are called Kazaks (or Kazakhs). About 38 percent of the population of Kazakstan is Russian; about 6 percent is German; and about 5 percent is Ukrainian.


For centuries the Kazak people were nomads. They have traditionally divided themselves into three territorial zhüz (tribal unions, or hordes): Greater, Central, and Lesser.


The people of Kenya are called Kenyans. The estimated proportions of the main tribal groups are Gikuyu (Kikuyu), 21 percent; Luhya, 14 percent; Luo, 13 percent; Kalenjin, 11 percent; and Gusii (Kisii), 6 percent.




At the end of the 1700s, Bantu-speaking peoples were scattered in small pockets at the northern, southern, and eastern margins of the Kisii highlands and in the Lake Victoria basin. Around 1800, the highlands above 4,970 feet (1,515 meters) were probably uninhabited from the northern part of the Manga escarpment south to the river Kuja.



The Luhya, Luyia, or Abaluhya, as they are interchangeably called, are the second-largest ethnic group in Kenya, after the Kikuyu. The Luhya belong to the larger linguistic stock known as the Bantu.


Korea, Republic of

The Koreans are believed to be descended from Mongoloid people from the cold northern regions of Central Asia. However, there are two Koreas, North and South.

South Koreans


The people of Kuwait are called Kuwaitis. Forty percent of the residents of Kuwait are citizens of the country; the remainder are divided roughly in half between Arabs and non-Arabs.



The people of Kyrgyzstan are called Kyrgyz. Ethnic Kyrgyz (people who trace their ancestry to Kyrgyzstan) make up more than 50 percent of the population.


The Kyrgyz people were nomads throughout much of their history, initially living in the region of south-central Russia between the Yenesei River and Lake Baikal about 2,000 years ago. The ancestors of the modern Kyrgyz were probably not Turks, like most people in the area are.


The people of Laos are called Laotians. There are officially 68 ethnic groups in Laos.


The Lao originated in southern China and moved southward into present-day Laos, forming a kingdom in the Mekong River valley in the fourteenth century and pushing the earlier inhabitants of the area, the Kammu, into more mountainous areas. After three centuries, however, disputes over succession to the throne and foreign invasions split the country into three rival kingdoms in the north, center, and south.


The Kammu (also written Khamu and Khmu) are believed to be the original inhabitants of Laos, and they make up its largest minority today. They are an Austro-Asiatic people who moved north from the area of Indonesia in prehistoric times.


The people of Latvia are called Latvians. More than half the population trace their ancestry to Latvia.



The people of Lebanon are called Lebanese. Lebanese are divided into Muslims and Christians.


Lebanon is a small, war-torn country on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Located on fertile territory at the crossroads of three continents—Africa, Asia, and Europe—it is a valuable and highly desired territory.


The Maronites believe that their heritage dates back to the time of Jesus. They were one of the Christian sects in the Middle East to remain intact after the Islamic revolution of the seventh century AD.




The people of Liberia are called Liberians. The country has about 28 ethnic tribes, but tribal divisions are becoming less distinct.



The people of Libya are called Libyans. More than 90 percent of the population identify themselves as Arab, with most of the remaining minority composed of Berbers (general name for North Africans) and black Africans.


Libya is located in North Africa, bordered to the east by Egypt and to the west by Algeria. The name Libya is taken from an ancient Egyptian name for a local tribe.


The people of Liechtenstein are called Liechtensteiners. Over 60 percent of the population are descended from people of Switzerland and southwestern Germany.


Liechtenstein is a tiny, beautiful country located in the heart of Europe. The citizens of this politically neutral principality enjoy a peaceful and prosperous existence in the midst of a scenic Alpine landscape.


The people of Lithuania are called Lithuanians. The native-born population is about 80 percent of the total.



The people of Luxembourg are called Luxembourgers. Those who are native-born consider themselves a distinct nationality.


The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a tiny but prosperous nation in Western Europe. For 400 years Luxembourg was ruled by its Western European neighbors, including France, Spain, and Austria.


The people of Macedonia are called Macedonians. About 65 percent of the population trace their ancestry to Macedonia.



The people of Madagascar are called Malagasy. The original immigrants to Madagascar are believed to have come from East Africa.


The origins of the Malagasy people remain a mystery. Scholars believe the Malagasy have a combination of Indonesian, Malayo-Polynesian, and African roots.


The people of Malawi belong mainly to various groups. About half belong to the Chewa and Nyanja groups, known collectively as Malawi (or Maravi), who arrived in Malawi before the nineteenth century.

Chewa and other Maravi Groups

The Chewa, one of the Bantu peoples, live in central Malawi. They are also found in parts of Zambia and Mozambique.


The people of Malaysia are called Malays. The native-born Malays, known as Bumiputras ("sons of the soil") make up about 60 percent of the total population; people of Chinese descent make up about 30 percent; people of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi descent are about 10 percent.



The people of Mali are called Malians. The main ethnic groups are the Bambara (about 30–35 percent), mostly farmers occupying central Mali; and the Fulani (just over 10 percent) who are of mixed origin.



The Songhay established one of the three great medieval west African empires in 1463. The first Songhay king, Sonni Ali Ber, extended the boundaries of the Song-hay state.