Difference between nation and nationality.

In English, it sounds like nationality and practically corresponds to the concept of a nation. In Russian, it is more likely to be identical with the concept of "ethnos", that is, a community of people with the same culture and language.

At the same time, nationality in Russia does not always coincide with the ethnicity of a person. Most often this is due to his perception of his own identity. A person representing one of the small nationalities of Russia is quite capable of considering himself a Russian by nationality. Or be called Russian, for example, of Armenian origin.

In this sense, one can observe the duality of the concept of "Russian": on the one hand, as denoting the ethnicity of a person, on the other, as denoting belonging to a state-forming people and allowing representatives of other ethnic groups to identify themselves as part of it.

The opposite situation also happens - when a citizen of the Russian Federation, who is Russian by nationality, identifies himself with representatives of one of the small Russian peoples. This is possible if he lives for a very long time in one of the national republics of the Russian Federation, learns the local language, adopts the local culture and traditions, starts a family by marrying a girl representing the titular nation of the republic.

But even in this case, a person, as a rule, does not cease to consider himself as belonging to the Russian nation - just like a native resident of a particular republic. Despite the fact that none of them considers themselves to be Russians by nationality.


The main difference between nation and nationality is that the first term in the Russian language most often denotes the political community of people, and the second - their ethnicity. As a rule, in Russia a person defines his identity on both grounds.

If a citizen of the Russian Federation more or less unequivocally relates himself to a certain nation - Russian, then on the issue of nationality it is more and more complicated. It so happens that a person belonging to a small nation identifies himself with another, who is a state-forming entity within the framework of the nation. It can also happen the other way around - if it is more comfortable for him to feel like a representative of a small ethnic group.

In English and many European languages, both terms are practically synonymous. It happens that a resident of one or another English-speaking country communicating with a tourist from the Russian Federation, who is a native of Yakutia or Ingushetia, does not understand why the interlocutor calls himself not Russian, but somehow differently - although he came from Russia.

It should be noted that in mono-ethnic states the concept of nationality in relation to the population - in the Russian interpretation - is sometimes not used in principle, since the nation is represented in them mainly by one people, which makes no sense to separate it from others. People living in these countries may simply not understand how it is to identify themselves differently than belonging to a state nation.

Having determined what is the difference between nation and nationality, let us fix its key criteria in the table.


Nation Nationality
What do they have in common? ​​
In English and many European languages, both terms are synonyms
A nation can be represented mainly by one nationality (in mono-ethnic states)
In Russia, a person of almost any nationality identifies himself as belonging to the state nation - Russian
What is the difference between them?
Denotes the political community of peopleIn Russian, it also denotes the ethnicity of people
In Russia, it is understood as supranational community, serving as one of the two criteria of a citizen's identity - along with nationalityIn Russia it is understood as a criterion of cultural and linguistic identity - one of two, along with the nation