Some of these definitions are more like synonyms in that they use minor differences in wording to relate a concept, while others hold underlying, unique, and important differences. The following definitions are related to ethnic minorities and are discussed generally during the discussion of health needs studies for ethnic minorities. The specific ethnicity related to individual countries will be independently discussed at a later time.Ethnicity: Both the English and Public Health dictionaries (Oxford 2005, 2007) state the same definition for ethnicity as the fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition, usually it refers to group identity based on culture, religion, traditions, and customs. Bhopal (2007), the leading scholar in UK ethnic health research, believes that this term is more associated with cultural traditions and languages rather than country of origin, race, or socio-economic status.Race: This word defines different groups of people who can be distinguished by examining their physical characteristics, e.g., the color of their skin, the shape of their eyes and face, as well as other visible qualities such as hair texture. More importantly, the term is often discussed in association with ancestry and geographical origins of the people (Bhopal 2007).Since the Second World War, the inappropriate distinction of humans by race, i.e., that different races are deficient in some areas and others are superior, has often been noted by organizations such as UNESCO:Humans are one species, races are not biologically distinct, there is little variation in genetic composition between geographically separated groups, and the physical characteristics distinguishing races result from a small number of genes which do not relate closely to either behaviors or diseaseSome individuals and governments have decided to replace the word race to ethnicity (Bhopal 2007), as both of the terms can be often seen as synonyms, except race are often more driven by social and political interests (Coons 2006).
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