Difference Between Nationality and Race

Nationality vs Race

The difference between nationality and race may be a little hard to understand as these two words are often used together. Nationality and race are two different concepts that are used very often by media and journalism. Though the words have totally different meanings, their usage has created doubts in the minds of the readers. Whereas nationality pertains to the country you were born in, or are in at present, race is the group you belong to depending on your physical characteristics. While nationality is in your hands up to an extent, it is the race that you cannot do anything about. Let us take a closer look at the two concepts.

What is Nationality?

Nationality is the country you were born or the country you live in at present. The piece of land you were born in decides your nationality. So if your parents moved to another country just before your birth, you may have a new country for your nationality. You could also choose to make a country your home. Some people leave their home country when they go to another country for higher studies. If they get better employment in that country, they decide to live there and change their nationality. So, as you can see, you can choose to change your nationality if you want to.

Difference Between Nationality and Race

Her nationality is American.

What is Race?

Race is grouping people into different sets depending on their physical appearance such as bone structures, skin color, hair color, hair texture, etc. What is that comes to your mind when you hear the terms white male, black lady, a Caucasian, a Mongoloid, and so on. These are words that have been used to refer to racial affiliations of people around the world though it is a fact that because of living together of different races and also cross marriages between different races, the distinctions between so called races has blurred to a great extent. The word race is used mostly in a negative tone these days to refer to discrimination that is going on in various parts of the world on the basis of color of skin and facial features. The belief that one’s race is superior to others leads people to behave in a certain manner towards others in the society. Who can forget the Holocaust during World War II when Jews were systematically annihilated in Nazi Germany? Who can forget how long Nelson Mandela had to fight against racial discrimination in South Africa for apartheid to be rooted away. Even today, when we take pride in so much of development and advancement, discrimination on the basis of race is going on in so called civilized and developed nations. Also, think about all the atrocities the Black people had to face before they were emancipated by President Abraham Lincoln in America. They had to go through so many hardships. Even today, there are still people who consider black people to be mean and sinful as they have black skin.

 Nationality vs Race

What is the difference between Nationality and Race?

There are metropolitan cities in many countries that are described as melting pots of races. This is because of the fact that one can get to see scores of different races and nationalities living in these cities. You may see whites, blacks, Mongoloids, and Caucasians all living in one country, and they all have the same nationality of the country they are living in. Still, they are treated differently as they belong to different races and have distinct cultural identities.

• Nationality is the country you were born or the country you have chosen as your home.

• Race is the group of people you belong to as a result of the physical features you show. This has to do with genetic lineage. Also, you will find that people from the same race usually have a common geographical area in the roots

• You can choose to change your nationality, but you cannot change your race.

• One nationality can include people of different races.

• Race has always been a subject for discrimination. Nationality does not bear so much problems as one’s race.

• Examples for nationality are American, British, Brazilian, Indian, Australian, etc.

• Examples for races are Caucasian, African-American, Mongoloid, etc.

• Nationality confines people to a single country while race contains people from all around the world as races are widely spread in the world now.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Maya Angelou by Adria Richards (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  2. The racial diversity of Asia’s peoples, Nordisk familjebok (1904) via Wikicommons (Public Domain)