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Ancient tribe Finno-Ugric peoples - Ancestry and origin

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Where do the Finno-Ugrians live?

Most Finno-Ugric ethnic groups, predominantly small and micro-ethnic, are widespread on the territory of Russia. They belong to the macro-grouping of the Uralic peoples. Today, a total of 12 Finno-Ugric peoples live in Russia, 10 of them in the European part and 2 in Western Siberia.
The most densely populated Finno-Ugric communities live outside Russia, namely Hungarians (14.5 million), Finns (5.1 million) and Estonians (1.1 million) in their own states. The others are ethnic groups of medium size, such as the Sami (Lapps) with 60,000 to 100,000 members, or small peoples such as the Selkupen with 3,600, the Wasps with 12,000 or the Ishors with 300 members.

Who are the ancestors of Finno-Ugrians?

The ancestors of the Uralians (Finno-Ugrians and Samoyeds) can be associated with the native populations of the whole of northern Eastern Europe, including the Volga and Ural regions. The Uralic influence(s) reaches as far as Siberia and even among the Jukagiri in northeast Eurasia there are indications of cultural and linguistic contacts. Probably there was a continuity of Uralic population in large parts of northern Eurasia since the cultures of the Neolithic (3rd millennium BC). There are also indications of immigration, overlapping and cultural influences from the Eurasian steppes. The peasant cultures of the southern Uralians of Europe spread northwards at the expense of the hunter-gatherer, reindeer herding and fishing cultures of the northern Uralians (the ancestors of the Sami and Samoyedes).
The Finno-Ugric peoples settled in the 6th to 4th millennium B.C. around the Ural Mountains, mainly on their eastern side, and the river Ob. Individual groups set out between 4000 and 3000 B.C. in an easterly and westerly direction. The Ugric branch of the Finno-Ugric language family is composed of the languages of the two Ugric peoples Khanty (Eastern Jaks) and Mansi (Voguls) as well as Hungarian (Magyar). After the dissolution of the Finno-Ugric community, the Ugric branch moved from its West Siberian settlement area in a south-southeasterly direction.

What are the Uralic peoples?

The Uralic ethnic groups of the modern age are the remainder of an originally more widespread population. Especially in contact with the Russians many Uralians have acculturated and linguistically assimilated.
For about 10,000 years Uralians have been in contact with Indo-European populations.
The Uralians' original homeland has been sought in the Volga region and its tributaries on the basis of linguistic-historical criteria. Modern archaeological and human genetic research has provided findings that confirm this hypothesis. Anthropologically the Uralians are related to the Mongol populations. The Ural genomic profile is best preserved in the seeds of Northern Europe, more than 45% of whose genes are still of Ural origin. In the genetic profile of other peoples, far fewer genetic traces are preserved that point to Uralic origin. In Finns, the proportion of Ural genes is barely 20%. The human genetic history of the Uralic populations is that of their de-Uralization and gradual Indo-Germanization.

What is the history of the Finns?


Coming from the Ural Mountains, Finno-Permian or proto-Finnish peoples spread from the 3rd millennium B.C. over north-eastern Europe to Scandinavia and the Baltic States, which was accompanied by their division or gradual separation. The Volga Finns moved to the southwest. Then seeds and Baltic fins developed apart. The latter in turn split into the ancestors of the Finns and the Estonians.
Sometime between the birth of Christ and the year 700 Finnish tribes invaded southern and western Finland. The Sami nomads (reindeer herders) were subsequently pushed northwards by the Finnish farmers. Presumably by land via the Karelian Isthmus, the Finnish tribe of the Tavasts came to Central Finland, and partly by sea via the Gulf of Finland the "real Finns" came from Estonia to south-west Finland. The Karelians who followed the tavasts on a somewhat more northern route settled in south-eastern Finland.
The Finnish people of today did not come into being until the late Middle Ages and modern times, as Finland - unlike Denmark, Sweden and Norway - had not experienced early imperial unification under a national kingdom. The differences in regional ways of life and mentality are still noticeable today. Until 1809 Finland was part of the Kingdom of Sweden. Between 1809 and 1917 Finland was an autonomous Grand Duchy of the Tsarist Empire; the Russian Tsar bore the title of Grand Prince. At that time the population also experienced its "national awakening" in Finland. The national-Finnish emancipation movement in competition with the Finland-Swedes shaped the social development until the second half of the 19th century. As a result of the struggle for independence in 1917/18, Finland gained state sovereignty.


Finnish is one of the Baltic Sea Finnish languages. Within this branch of the Uralic language family it is more closely related to Karelian and Estonian. Through its contacts with neighbouring languages, Finnish has had many influences on its vocabulary, phonetic system and grammatical structures since the Middle Ages.


In the genomic profile of the Finnish population, parts of the uralid gene pool can still be identified. This is about 20% of the Finnish gene profile. The ethnogenesis of the Finnish population is characterised by continuous Indo-Europeanisation. Through this process of ethnic mixing the proportion of European genes has increased to 80%. These genomic disproportions are one of the reasons why Finns look like Scandinavians and not like typical Uralides, e.g. Mari or Mansen. There are, however, characteristics in the physique of some Finns that point to their Uralide heritage, e.g. small size in correlation with stockiness.

What is the history of the Estonians?

The Estonians do not belong ethnically to the Balts, but together with the Sami and Finns to the Finno-Ugric peoples. Nevertheless, Estonia is geographically considered part of the Baltic States.
Finno-Ugric tribal groups settled in the Estonian heartland as early as the 5th millennium B.C. During the 3rd millennium B.C., the Baltic Sea Finns with regional specifics in culture and language gained their own profile. In the 2nd millennium B.C. contacts between the Baltic Sea Finns in the north and the Baltic tribal groups in the south developed. In the course of the 1st millennium BC, the Estonian ethnic group developed. Since the middle of the 1st millennium A.D., the Estonians have been in contact with Eastern Slavs, later mainly with Russians.
For the longest time in their political history the Estonians were dependent on other states. During the period of tsarist Russian and Soviet rule, the Estonian community was under strong acculturation pressure, which left its linguistic traces in the change of language to Russian among certain groups of the population and in the bilingualism of modernity. Estonian has been written since the 17th century. The close relations with the culturally and linguistically related neighbours, the Finns, have, especially since the 19th century, strengthened the self-esteem of Estonians and motivated the cultivation of Estonian identity and language.

What is the history of the Hungarians (Magyars)?

Hungarian is one of the main languages of the Finno-Ugric branch and belongs to the group of Ugric languages. For about 3000 years Hungarian has developed separately from the other Finno-Ugric languages. According to the prevailing theory, Hungarians are descended from a nomadic people whose "original home" is believed to be in the Ural region. Hungarian tribal groups moved with the Turkish Volga Bulgarians in the 7th century through the Russian steppes westwards to the Pannonian Plain. The main land grab of the Hungarians, however, did not take place until 896, when a total of 7 tribes of Hungarians fought their way into the Carpathian Basin. The Avars and Slavs who lived there at that time quickly assimilated in the following period. However, this theory of continuity was repeated and is still being questioned today.
According to the academic majority opinion, one could only speak of an ethnic unity of the Hungarians (Magyars) in today's sense after the Hungarian land grab in the Carpathian Basin, since their tribal confederation had only recently been formed from groups of different origins. The Finno-Ugric Proto-Magyars originating from the Ural region are therefore only one of the elements from which the later Hungarians were formed. After the Hungarians had been defeated in the battle of Lechfeld in 955, they withdrew from the territory of present-day Austria (except from present-day Burgenland) and settled in present-day western Hungary. Gradually the nomadic Hungarian people settled down. From the last quarter of the 10th century onwards, the Hungarians were Christianised under Prince Géza and under Stephen I. The latter is considered the first king of the Kingdom of Hungary, founded in 1000.
Since the 12th century, Hungarian has been written in Latin script.

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