Ethnic groups of South Asia

Ethnic groups of South Asia

The ethno-linguistic composition of the population of South Asia, that is the nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka, as well as sometimes Afghanistan, mostly falls within two large groups, Dravidian and Indo-Aryan. These groups are further subdivided into numerous sub-groups, castes and tribes. Indo-Aryans form the predominant ethno-linguistic group in Pakistan, northern India, Nepal, central and southern Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Dravidians form the predominant ethno-linguistic group in southern India and the northern and eastern regions of Sri Lanka. Iranian peoples, grouped with Indo-Aryans in the Indo-Iranian language group, also have a significant presence in South Asia, the large majority of whom are located in north-western Pakistan - in Balochistan, Northwest Frontier Province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Dardic peoples form a minority among the Indo-Aryans. They are classified as belonging to the Indo-Aryan language group [G. Morgenstierne Irano-Dardica. Wiesbaden 1973; Morgenstierne, G. Indo-Iranian frontier languages. (Instituttet for sammenlignende kulturforskning. Publ. ser. B: Skrifter, no. 11, 35, 40) Oslo: H. Aschehoug, 1929 sqq, reprint Oslo 1973,C. Masica The Indo-Aryan languages, New York 1991, p. 21; R.L. Trail and G.R. Cooper, Kalasha Dictionary, Islamabad & High Wycombe 1999 p. xi; The Indo-Aryan languages, edited by George Cardona and Dhanesh Jain. London, New York : Routledge, 2003] Sometimes they are also classified as external to the Indo-Aryan branch [ G.A. Grierson, The Pisaca Languages of North-Western India,Asiatic Society, London, 1906, repr. Delhi 1969, p. 4-6; still repeated in: History of Civilizations of Central Asia, Ahmad Hasan Dani, Vadim Mikhaĭlovich Masson, János Harmatta, Boris Abramovich Litvinovskiĭ, Clifford, 1999] , and are found in far northern India (such as in Kashmir) and northern Pakistan (Northern Areas and Northwest Frontier Province). Minority groups not falling within either large group mostly belong to the Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman language families. The Andamanese (Sentinel, Onge, Jarawa, Great Andamanese) live on some of the Andaman Islands and speak a language isolate, as do the Kusunda in central Nepal [ D.E. Watters, Notes on Kusunda (a language isolate of Nepal), Kathmandu 20005] , the Vedda in Sri Lanka, and the Kalto (Nahali) of central India, who number about 5000 people. The people of the Hunza valley in Pakistan are another distinct population. They speak Burushaski, a language isolate.

The traditions of different ethnic groups in South Asia have diverged, influenced by external cultures, especially in the northwestern parts of South Asia (where Turkic and Iranian peoples have had much influence) and in the border regions and busy ports, where there are greater levels of contact with external cultures. The largest ethno-linguistic group in South Asia are the Indo-Aryans, numbering around 1 billion, and the largest sub-group are the native speakers of Hindi languages, numbering more than 300 million.


Indo-Iranian peoples

Indo-Aryan peoples

* Bengali people
* Bhils
* Bihari people
* Dom people
* Gujarati people
* Hindkowans
* Jat people
* Konkani people
* Marathi people
* Marwaris
* Oriya people
* Paharis
** Dogra people
** Garhwali people
** Gurkha or Gorkha
** Khas
** Kumaoni people
* Punjabi people
* Seraikis
* Sinhalese people
* Sindhi people
* Tharu people

Iranian peoples

*Balochi people
*Pashtun people
*Tajik people
*Parsi people

Dardic peoples

"Note: The Dardic languages are largely seen as Indo-Aryan, but are sometimes seen as a separate Indo-Iranian branch."
*Chitrali people
*Shina people
*Kashmiri people

Other Indo-Iranian

Nuristani people

Dravidian peoples

* Badagas
*Brahui people
*Kurukh (Oraon)
*Gondi people
**Cochin Jews
**Syrian Malabar Nasrani
* Malto people
*Tamil people
**Indian Tamils
***Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka
**Ceylon Tamils
*Telugu people
*Toda people

=Austro-Asiatic-speaking peoples=

*Munda people
*Khasi people
*Nicobarese people

Sino-Tibetan peoples

Light green: Indo-European languages

Blue: Dravidian languages]
*Tibetans and Tibetan-speaking speaking peoples
**Tibetan Ladakhis
**Tibetan Muslim
*Kirat people
** Rai
** Limbu
** Yakkha
*Lepcha people
*Magar people
*Manipuri or Meithei people
*Naga people

Semitic peoples

*Indian Jews
**Cochin Jews (Malayali Jews)
**Bene Israel (Marathi Jews)
**Baghdadi Jews (Arab Jews in Bengal)
**Bnei Menashe (Mizo and Kuki Jews)
**Bene Ephraim (Telugu Jews)
**Paradesi Jews (European Jews in India)
*Arabs or mixed Arab and Indo-Aryan or Dravidian
**Sri Lankan Moors
**Muhajirs often claim some level of Arab ancestry
**Iraqi biradri A community of Muslims in north India

Tai peoples


European/Eurasian peoples

*Burgher people

=Linguistically isolate groups=

* Andamanese
* Hunza people
* Kusunda
* Nahali (Kalto)
* Veddas
* Irulas


Many South Asian ethnic groups and nationalities have substantial diasporas outside of South Asia.
*South Asian American
**Indian American
**Pakistani American
**Bangladeshi American
**Tamil Canadian
**Pakistani Canadian
**Bangladeshi Canadian
*British Asian
**British Indian
**British Pakistani
**British Bangladeshi
**Tamil British
**British Nepali
*South Asian Australian
**Indian Australian
**Pakistani Australian
**Sri Lankan Australian
*Indo Kiwi
*Indians in Singapore
*Malaysian Indian
**Tamil Malaysians
*Indian Indonesian
*Burmese Indians
*South Asians in Hong Kong
*South Asians in the Philippines
**Indian Filipino
*Indian South Africans
**Tamil South Africans
*Indians in Botswana
*Indians in Kenya
*Indians in Madagascar
*Indians in Mozambique
*Indians in Tanzania
*Indians in Uganda
*Indians in Zambia
*Indians in Zimbabwe
*Indians in Iran
*Indians in Thailand
*Indians in the United Arab Emirates
*Indians in Vietnam
*Indians in Barbados
*Indians in Belize
*Indian Chilean
*Indian Mexican
*Indians in Guadeloupe
*Indians in Panama
*Indians in Belgium
*Indo French
*Indo Gibraltarians
*Indians in Israel
*Indo Italian
*Indo Portuguese
*Indo Spanish
*Indians in New Caledonia

There are also some migrant groups to other South Asian countries:

*Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka
*Indians in Maldives


ee also

*Genetics and Archaeogenetics of South Asia
*Historical definitions of races in India
*Languages of India
*Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes
*Demographics of Pakistan
*Demographics of India
*Demographics of Sri Lanka
*Demographics of Bangladesh
*Demographics of Bhutan
*Demographics of Nepal
*Demographics of Iran
*Demographics of Myanmar
*Demographics of Afghanistan
*Indian diaspora
*Pakistani diaspora
*Languages of South Asia
*Languages of Pakistan
*Ethnic groups in Pakistan
*Assamese people
*Sikkimese people

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