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  • An ethnicity, or ethnic group, is a socially-defined category of people who identify with each other based on common ancestral, social, cultural, or national experience. Membership of an ethnic group tends to be defined by a shared cultural heritage, ancestry, myth of origins, history, homeland, language, or even ideology, and manifests itself through symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, physical appearance, etc. The largest ethnic groups in modern times comprise hundreds of millions of individuals, while the smallest are limited to a few dozen individuals. Larger ethnic groups may be subdivided into smaller sub-groups known variously as tribes or clans, which over time may become separate ethnic groups themselves due to endogamy and/or physical isolation from the parent group. Conversely, formerly separate ethnicities can merge to form a pan-ethnicity, and may eventually merge into one single ethnicity. Whether through division or amalgamation, the formation of a separate ethnic identity is referred to as ethnogenesis.

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