Friday, February 18, 2005

Who are the Peoples of Europe?

What is the common bond among the peoples of the Member States of the EU and of those nations still seeking to join the European Union? What accounts for the European "family"? Is it a common culture? or adjoining territory?

At our LexiLine Group on the History of Civilization, we just received an e-mail asking about how human beings around the globe derived their varied skin coloring in the course of the history of humanity.

It was an interesting question which we answered by referring to a webpage on Skin Color Adaptation at the excellent website on Human Biological Adaptability as created and maintained by Dr. Dennis O'Neil, Behavioral Sciences Department, Palomar College, San Marcos, California.

Particularly of interest for Europe is the map of the world found at that site, which is shaded according to skin color as based on data compiled by R. Biasutti for native populations prior to 1940:

map of world skin color distribution.

As one can see, prior to 1940 Europe had the highest concentration of light-skinned persons as its native inhabitants, something which is accounted for historically by the lesser relative intensity of solar radiation in the European nations (perhaps the origin of the name Eu-rope is in a term similar to the Indo-European root A-lba "white"). Europe is the historical home of the white peoples.

It would be interesting to see how this map looks today in terms not of native populations but rather in terms of actual inhabitants. We think that the map would be changed to some degree from what we see above.

In any case, when asking the question "who are the peoples of Europe", the above map should be taken into account as one aspect of the manner in which the European Union is viewed by many of its inhabitants. It is surely an integral part of what we might call "unwritten policy".
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