READ: Ethnicity in Former Soviet Republics

Ethnicity in Former Soviet Republics

A map of present-day Ukraine

Many of the former republics of the Soviet Union, which gained their independence in 1991, are ethnically different from Russia and their neighboring States. For instance, nearly 78 percent of the people of present-day Ukraine are ethnically Ukrainian. This means they share common traditions and history, they are of the same race (Slavic), they speak the same language (Ukrainian), and they have common religious beliefs.


A family from Tajikistan on the streets of Moscow

Although Tajikistan and Ukraine are both former members of the Soviet Union, they are culturally & ethnically very different. For instance, their populations speak different languages. The people of Tajikistan are mostly Muslim and the people of Ukraine are mostly Christian. The traditions, customs, and even the clothing of the two groups are distinctly different. Many of those differences are the result of the physical location of the countries: Ukraine borders Europe, while Tajikistan borders China. This is one example of how physical regions can affect the development of cultural, economic, and political regions.

The Kurdish Mountains are another good example of a physical region where the people have strong cultural ties. Physical features, including mountains, valleys, vegetation, rivers, lakes, and soil types can impact the development of cultural, economic, and political regions. Climate, weather, elevation, and latitude also play significant roles in the development of cultural, economic, and political regions. As you will learn in coming weeks, people adapt to their environment and they also adapt the environment to meet their needs.

Wikimedia Commons.
Family from Tajikistan.” Photo courtesy of The Library of Congress.

Last modified: Tuesday, August 3, 2010, 6:40 PM