Difference Between Race and Nationality

Our identity is something we constantly searching for. Our surrounding plays an important role in building our identity and also plays a part in defining it as well. Our race and nationality also take part in this aspect. Our nationality builds our cultural sense, and our race bestows a few characteristics as well.

Race vs Nationality

The main difference between race and nationality is that race is a biological aspect, but nationality is a legal aspect. People belonging to a particular race can sometimes bear few physical traits, based on which the race can be assumed, but this is not definite. Nationality is a legal trait that also determines the citizenship of a person.

Race vs Nationality

Your nationality is the relationship that you share with your country. Your nationality is mainly gets decided by your birth, and your nationality can change if you become a legal citizen of any other nation. Nationality is a geographic factor.

Humans get divided into subspecies based on their physical appearance. The race is often divided based on skin colour, hair etc. But it is not necessary for people to carry such signs as mandatory. Skin colour often becomes an issue and give rise to racial discrimination.

Comparison Table Between Race and Nationality

Parameters of Comparison RaceNationality
DefinitionRace is known to be a classification that is based depending on the biological differences of humans. Nationality is a connection that is established between a state and a person.
AspectIt is constructed by society and its people.It is constructed by legal affairs.
BasisRace is determined by the colour of skin, hair, etc.Nationality is determined by geographical location and citizenship.
Physical attributesA person belonging to a particular race may carry few fixed physical traits.Nationality can not be determined by physical appearance.
ExampleAsian, Black, White etc.American, Indian, Canadian etc.

What is Race?

The race is a classification that is done depending on biological factors. Race is a species or subspecies that get divided based on some biological aspects. The difference between the races is minor. The biological, genetic differences are the basis of race. Human beings are one species, but they include morphological differences. And based on such differences, the races get divided.

These racial differences do not have any major significance. However, we often see people fall victim to racial discrimination by a hypothetical superior race. We can put it in the light of modernity and say the racial difference is a social construct as biological differences have no crucial importance.

The earliest example of race can be traced back in history, where the difference between races used to get determined based on the colour of the skin. In history, racial discrimination has given rise to oppression and, soon, slavery. White colour became oppressive, and black or brown skin coloured people got oppressed.

What is Nationality?

Nationality is constructed by law. It is not a socially constructed aspect. Nationality is a relationship that a person shares with his or her country. The nationality is decided by birth. That is, if you are born in America, then you are an American, and if you are born in India, then you are an Indian. The nationality can also get decided later in life if you stay in another country for many years, away from your homeland. If you shift to Canada and hold citizenship of that country, then you can associate and identify yourself as a Canadian. In such situations, your home country will be regarded as your ethnicity.

By becoming part of nationality, you enjoy the facilities offered by the nation. That nation becomes responsible for you, and you also are bound to contribute your efforts to the country. Nationality has nothing to do with biology. It is based on geographic location and law.

Main Differences Between Race and Nationality

  1. The race is known to be a classification that is decided relying on the biological disparities of human beings, but nationality is a classification that is based on the connection shared between a country and its people.
  2. Race is constructed by society and its people. People often discriminate against other people based on their race which is undoubtedly unethical. On the other hand, nationality is constructed by legal affairs, and the discrimination against nationality is not as outrageous as discrimination against race. Racism is a fatal threat to humanity.
  3. A person belonging to a particular race may or may not carry a few fixed physical attributes that are characteristics of that race. But these are not exclusive and definite. Nationality, on the other hand, does not bear any special physical appearance based on which it can get differentiated.
  4. Race is a social manifestation that can often shape into the subject of cruel discrimination. But nationality is not determined by people of society. It is a legal affair that is based on your geographical location.
  5. A few examples of race are Asian, Black, White, etc. And based on the country, the few instances of nationality is Indian, American and many other.
  6. The Colour of the skin often gets subjected to be a parameter of deciding the race, but nationality can not be determined based on skin colour or hair.
Difference Between Race and Nationality


Our ultimate identity is humanity. But we often divide this universal identity into subspecies, and that leads to discrimination against each other. As the white colour got associated with superiority without even a proper logic, the other colours got marked as inferior, and that led to oppression which even today’s modern-day and time are very prominent.

Nationality is a legal issue that is based on geographic location. The country we are born in issues our right to nationality. People can belong to the same nationality and yet come from different races. Even though our nationality and race play an important role to build our character and identity, we should not define or judge a person based on their race. And we definitely should not consider a race inferior to the other.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1779834
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1961-02096-001
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