Largest Ethnic Groups In Russia

Ethnic Russians comprise the single largest ethnic group in both the Russian Federation and Europe as a whole.
Ethnic Russians comprise the single largest ethnic group in both the Russian Federation and Europe as a whole.

Russia is one of the countries with the largest numbers of ethnic groups in Europe. It is a multinational state with around 185 ethnic groups or nationalities. These groups have varied population from millions of people forming one ethnic group to just ten thousand forming the smallest group. The ethnic groups or nationalities are spread across the country and represented in all the levels of government. In Russia, there are over 185 ethnic groups and more than 100 languages spoken with Russian being the official state language. Some of the largest ethnic groups in Russia include Russians, Tatars, Ukrainians, and Bashkirs. The majority of Russians identify with Orthodox Christianity.


Ethnic Russians account for 81% of the entire population of the country. Russians belong to the East Slavic ethnic group who are natives of Eastern Europe. The population of Russia is 129 million people as of 2012 with over 86% of them living in Russia while the majority of the 14% live in the former Soviet Union states, especially Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Russians are mainly polytheists and the culture varies and unique in many ways. The culture has a long history in art, literature, painting, philosophy, architecture, and classical music. 41% of the Russian population identifies with Russian Orthodox Church, and other people are Old Believers, Pentecostal, Seventh-day Adventists, and Evangelicals.


Tatars belong to a Turkic language speaking group, and are found living mainly in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Tatars originated from the Tatar confederation in Gobi Desert in the 5th century. The Tatar language forms part of the Kypchak language. Tatar has three dialects. Namely, these are Misher spoken by the Mishar, the central dialect spoken by the Astrakhan, and Kazan and Sibir spoken by the Siberian Tatars. Most of the Tatars are Volga Tatar and Crimean Tatar. Tatars are the second largest ethnic group in Russia forming 3.9% of the population. Most of the Tatars are Muslims while they also identify with the old literature.


Ukrainians comprise the third largest ethnic group in Russia, accounting for 1.4% of the population. Ukrainians belong to the East Slavic ethnic group and are of Ukraine origin. Te Ukrainian ethnic group is more populous in Ukraine where they make over 75% of the population. 1.9 million People in Russia belong to this group. There are several sub-ethnic groups among the Ukrainians including Lemkos, Hutsuls, Boykos, and Volhynians. Ukrainian culture mainly exhibits the European influence because of the Ukraine’s geographical location. Strong Christian culture dominates the ethnic group with Catholic and Orthodox also dominating. An element of Islam is also evident in the group. Ukrainians are also known for their music and dance.


The Bashkir belong to the Turkic group of peoples, and make up 1.2% of the Russian population. The group lives in Perm Krai, Orenburg, Kurgan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Bashkirs speak the Bashkir language and share cultural practices with other Turkic peoples. Bashkirs are mainly Sunni Muslims. The ethnic group primarily practices agriculture and cattle beekeeping. Some of their favorite dishes include oyra and a cheese called qorot.

The other main ethnic groups in Russia include the Chuvash, making up 1.1% of the Russian population, the Chechens at 1.0%, and Armenians at 0.9%. Orthodox Christianity is the most widespread religion in Russia, while visual art dominates the culture of the country. With so many ethnic groups in the country, the minority groups have been justifiably recognized through legislation.

Largest Ethnic Groups In Russia

RankEthnic GroupShare of Russian Population

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