Sociology

Really understanding the European population fluctuation



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The main mistake people make when talking about Europe, is the tendency to generalize facts without taking into consideration the diversity of the continent. It is true that all European countries are experiencing a population decline of the ethnic group in the majority and a population increase of minority groups. The results of this, however, for each country will be different depending on several factors like: Foreign and domestic policy, history of the relationship between the majority and the minority groups, and cultural similarities and differences between the two or more ethnic groups.

All European countries have a long history of different minorities living together. Some minorities have learned to live in peace together, like the Flanders and the French in Belgium, or the English and the Scots in Great Britain, the Transylvanian Hungarians and the Romanians in Romania, the Serbs, the Macedonians and the Bulgarians in Macedonia and so on. The process has been long and troublesome. European history is full of wars and conflicts between different ethnic groups. Most ethnic groups living in proximity today have at one time been enemies. The wars and separations have existed not only on religious bases, between Christian and Muslims, but on purely ethnic bases: Christian Serbs and Christian Greeks and Christian Bulgarians for examples had fought against each other in several wars.

Today, however, all these ethnic groups live in a relative harmony. It does not mean all conflict has disappeared. It simply means there is no urgent reason to fight over the differences and most minorities feel quite comfortable where they are. In other words, the democratic governments in most of these countries allow for minorities to coexist with the major population group without losing their ethnic identity. Most of them have newspapers, radios, TV programs in their own languages and even local democratically elected government. In many European countries several languages are considered official in order to accommodate the different ethnic groups. Europe has moved in a direction of cooperation and coexistence of diverse groups.

This, however, does not mean that there is no fear of the majority group over losing the cultural battle with the minority groups. History has shown us, though, that ethnic conflicts escalate in economic hardships and alleviate in prosperity. As long as European economy is moving forward, there will be a relative peace among the different ethnic groups. The conflicts that a lot of Western European countries experience with some immigrants from Africa and the Middle East are based on the economic hardships the immigrants face combined with the big cultural divide between the two groups. Let us not forget though, that there are other immigrants, from Eastern Europe and Russia going into Western Europe, who manage to assimilate easier and faster into the main ethnic group.

The question that a lot of people are asking is what will happen with those Muslim immigrants who are growing in numbers in Western Europe and are not assimilating in the main culture. The simple answer is nothing. They will make their communities and carve out a place for themselves. Then, in a generation or two, they will also start controlling their birthrate and diminish it to that of the major population. They will be another minority among other minorities. France, Italy, Germany and all other countries will not lose their cultural heritage. To think otherwise is not to be aware of the deep roots tradition, history, and ethnicity play in Europe. This peaceful co-existence will continue until there is food and spectacles for all. If economic hardships come, then ethnic conflicts and wars will follow and all that has happened in Europe, will happen again.

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