Friday, April 01, 2005

Peoples of the world

I intend to go back to history and consider it in more detail, but for now, it's time to move on to study of peoples of the world. I may have mentioned before that this is connected to geography, sociology, and anthropology, but it's not necessary to be an expert in these to study various peoples. In order to study the history of the world, or even follow current events, it's necessary to become familiar with the various peoples of the world.

Peoples can also be called civilizations, nations, tribes, and ethnic groups. The exact definitions are rather fuzzy and I make no effort to be precise about them.
I have divided these into four major areas, largely on the basis of shared history, culture, and geography.

1) Western civilization and peoples. On the basis of shared history, religion, language, and other elements of culture, I include European, Modern North and South American, Russian, and Australia in this group.

2) Asiatic civilization and peoples. This is probably the largest division and is rather a catch-all category, and includes such diverse peoples as those of the Middle East, China, and India. I also include Australian aborigines, non-Russian peoples of central asia, and various others in this grouping.

3) African civilization and peoples. This includes sub-Saharan African peoples.

4) American Indian or Native American civilization and peoples. In modern times, these have been submerged by Western Civilization, but they still exist as distinct and groups within the larger communities.

Earth science and biology are the most useful of the natural sciences in study of peoples of the earth. A few particular areas of the human body and psychology are also useful, but most of these are directed toward particular individuals. However, each of the peoples of the earth has its own cultural heroes and famous or notorious personalities.
Studies of population and its growth and movement, relationships with the environment, race, and particular groups also form part of the foundation for studies of peoples. Although this area of corresponds roughly to human geography, people in widely different places are more similar in culture than some that are nearby.
The distinctive languages and philosophies, customs and arts, and differences in architecture, diet, and other elements of culture are part of the identification of peoples.
Likewise, important families, educational traditions, economic systems, and government are significant. Again, this corresponds only roughly to the nations of the earth, since some peoples have more than one government, and quite a few nations include more than one people.
Each people has its own distinctive structure, there are many different types, and history of the changes it has undergone. It is also composed of communities; usually more than one.
Many peoples that no longer exist can be identified from historical records. Some have been been absorbed or merged into others, or divided into more than one; while others have originated by division or combination of older peoples. These changes give world history much of its content and variety.

For an exercise, I would suggest choosing which of these peoples you most identify with, and describe as many features of it as possible.

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