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 also bestows a few characteristics.


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Key Takeaways

  1. Race refers to people with shared physical characteristics, while nationality denotes belonging to a specific nation or country.
  2. Race is primarily based on genetic traits, whereas nationality is based on geopolitical factors.
  3. Nationality can change through naturalization, while race remains constant throughout one’s life.

Race vs Nationality

Race refers to a group of people who share physical characteristics such as skin color, facial features, and hair type, which are generally believed to be inherited traits. Nationality refers to the country in which a person was born or to which they belong by ancestry or citizenship.

Race vs Nationality

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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. 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 gives rise to racial discrimination.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonRaceNationality
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?

Race is a classification that is done depending on biological factors. Race is a species or subspecies divided based on biological aspects. The difference between the races is minor. Biological and 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 that 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 was determined based on skin colour. 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, you can associate and identify as a Canadian. In such situations, your home country will be regarded as your ethnicity.

By becoming part of a 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. 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, legal affairs construct nationality, and 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. On the other hand, nationality does not have any special physical appearance based on which it can be differentiated.
  4. Race is a social manifestation that can often shape into the subject of cruel discrimination. But nationality is not determined by the 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. Skin colour often gets subjected to be a parameter of deciding race, but nationality can not be determined based on skin colour or hair.
Difference Between Race and Nationality
  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1779834
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1961-02096-001
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