A people is a group of people defined as a social entity by the majority of the people in an area or country. A people may be ethnic, cultural, linguistic, national, religious, political, philosophical, or economic groups defined by members of a community to interact with one another. People can also be classified by race, language, caste, tribe, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, or sexual identity. The groups most likely to have a common interest and to identify with each other and to maintain a common bond, although there are exceptions to these general principles.
People may be grouped together on the basis of physical characteristics such as race or nationality, color, or language or on the basis of social class. In some ways, human beings are biologically more related than anything else because they are part of a genealogical network that traces its origins back to our ancestry, which was recorded in the genetic material of our ancestors. Thus, a group of human beings that share a certain genetic trait, such as skin pigment, can be regarded as a collective people as well.
However, when people refer collectively to all the people of a certain country, nationality, ethnic group, or linguistic grouping, this is known as nationhood. A nation, as defined in the etymology example, refers to the state or territory where a people lives or resides. Nation-lessness refers to the lack of a particular state or territory. Within a nation, there may be several distinctively different peoples who, while belonging to the same ethnic group or nation, may have lived separately for centuries or even millennia. For instance, there are nations within China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and a host of others.
All peoples, whether individually or collectively, tend to see themselves as members of a group or community based on the shared characteristics shared by their group. This may be based on language, culture, religion, or a combination of these or other traits. However, some ethnic groups are thought of as separate from other ethnic groups not because they are geographically smaller or more isolated, but because the people within them differ culturally and socially from the people of neighboring areas. Within a nation, there are sometimes varying definitions of a social class or group. These categories are used to classify the membership of an ethnic group into separate classes, or sub-groups, depending on the etymology of the term, which comes from the root word for brow.
Different types of communities or groups exist today in North Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America. In each of these cases, the people refer to themselves as a community or group, often with specific reference to its own government or social hierarchy. For instance, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon rainforests tend to call themselves tribes, while the Basque people commonly refer to themselves as Cantones, or “people of the small lakes”. Some ethnic groups have been known to call themselves by epitomes, which are shorter forms of peoples’ names derived from other places or cultures; such as Italian Cypriot and Greek Ionian, and so on.
The etymology of peoples’ names points to their separation, though ethnic identity is also based on related traits of physical appearance and behavior. Thus, Chinese people may call themselves either the Chinese or Koreans, though technically they are one group. Similarly, within a country, there can be a wide variety of peoples who call themselves by different names that do not refer to their class or group. These can include groups such as Scots, Irish, and Portuguese. Similarly, within a political entity, national identities can be identified by the social grouping a person belongs to and by their political party.