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The total number of national or linguistic minority populations in Europe is estimated at 105 million people, or 14% of 770 million Europeans.There is no precise or universally accepted definition of the terms "ethnic group" or "nationality".

There are eight European ethno-linguistic groups with more than 30 million members residing in Europe.The Indigenous peoples of Europe are the focus of European ethnology, the field of anthropology related to the various indigenous groups that reside in the nations of Europe.According to German monograph Minderheitenrechte in Europa co-edited by Pan and Pfeil (2002) there are 87 distinct peoples of Europe, of which 33 form the majority population in at least one sovereign state, while the remaining 54 constitute ethnic minorities.The broad aims of the Convention are to ensure that the signatory states respect the rights of national minorities, undertaking to combat discrimination, promote equality, preserve and develop the culture and identity of national minorities, guarantee certain freedoms in relation to access to the media, minority languages and education and encourage the participation of national minorities in public life.The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities defines a national minority implicitly to include minorities possessing a territorial identity and a distinct cultural heritage.

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