Ethnic minorities are a sociological group that is differentiated by the majority power structure of a society. A minority group is one that has been signaled out because of some difference. In this case, the difference is one or race or ethnicity. Ethnic groups are frequently defined by language, religious, cultural or even physical differences from the majority.
Nearly every society has its ethnic minorities. In the United States, Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos are classified as ethnic minorities. In China, ethnic minorities are considered to be those people outside the majority Han population, including Tibetans, Manchu, Uyghur and Mongol people. Even a nation like Japan, largely seen as homogeneous by Westerners, has its ethnic minorities, the Ainu of Hokkaido, for example. Ethnic minorities also include the Aborigines of Australia and the Sami people of Lapland.
In many countries, recognized ethnic minorities have specific, protected rights, such as the right to education or official communication in their native language. However, there is some controversy regarding what is seen as special privilege for minority groups. In some cases, ethnic minorities have agitated for independence from the larger society, such as the Basques of Spain, the French speaking Canadians of Quebec, or even the people of Scotland.