Race vs. ethnicity vs. nationality

When talking about the presents day one can easily observe that there are a couple of characteristics that define each person, predominantly or otherwise. Race, ethnicity and nationality are a few of these characteristics that together with other feature make-up the complexity of a single individual and yet, they create confusion most of the time.

So what do each of them mean?

Race is defined as “a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits” by Merriam Webster dictionary. Race applies to a larger portion of a population and can gross boarders of countries and even continents. They are characteristics that are similarly found in most of its members.

Ethnicities pretty much get the same definition as race, but applies to a smaller portion (e.g. Roma is an ethnicity) and can go beyond physical features. It can be the original common country of a migrating people and even religion.

Now here is where get is tricky. Nationality is cited as a synonym of ethnicity, yet it refers to the country in which people are born in. You a born in Spain, you are a Spanish national, regardless of you race or ethnicity. Even when leaving Spain and moving to a different country, you are still a Spanish national. Nationality is most commonly confused with citizenship, for they present the same main features. In a nutshell, in order to differentiate between the two, nationality is a matter in which you are born in, and citizenship, though you can be born into it, can also be acquired.

It may seem of little importance to know the differences between these concepts but in today’s context of interculturality people are clinging more and more to these features that set them apart from the majority and brings them closer to a certain group.

By Catalina Matasaru


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