Race (раса; rasa). A biological grouping of a breeding population of individuals with certain genetically transmitted characteristics. It is not the uniformity but the comparative frequency of the appearance of inherited characteristics which defines a population as a racial group. The idea of race is statistical in principle in that it describes the characteristics of a population and not necessarily its individual members, and the diversity within a racial group is enormous. The markers used in identifying various races of humans are skin color, eye cast, hair form and bone structure, blood type, and so on. At present three general racial groups are recognized: the Mongoloid race, the Caucasoid race, and the Negroid race.
In broad terms Ukrainians are of the Caucasoid or Europoid race, with a wide range of skin color, from pale alabaster white to shades of brown. Eyes vary from the northern light blue to the dark brown to black of the Mediterranean inhabitants. The hair is usually soft, straight or wavy, its color ranging from light blond to raven black. The structure of the nose varies from high and narrow to broad and snub; the lips are usually thin. Both sexes have relatively large amounts of body hair, and men grow heavy beards. Although typically Slavic in general, Ukrainians show a wide range of the aforementioned characteristics as a result of the centuries of turmoil and the influence of nomadic nations in their ethnic territory (see Physical anthropology).
More precisely, the current structure of the Ukrainian population reflects the following distribution of racial formations: (1) the Nordic–sub-Nordic race, found in the territory of Podlachia, Polisia, Volhynia, and the Zhytomyr region, and then down towards the southern Kyiv oblast, Poltava oblast, and Dnipropetrovsk oblast, with some islands in Ivano-Frankivsk oblast and in the Prut River basin; (2) the Dinaric race, predominant in Subcarpathia and Transcarpathia, western and central Galicia, Podilia, and the Kholm region, with some penetration into Kyiv oblast (Alpinian traces are found in some Transcarpathian zones, in the Podilia and Kyiv regions; and definite Armenoid characteristics appear along the crests of the Carpathian Mountains in the area inhabited by Hutsuls, down to Bukovyna); (3) the Alpinian-Lappanoid race, predominant in the Kharkiv region, Poltava region, Sumy region, and Chernihiv region; (4) the sub-Lappanoid races, characteristics of which are found in the Donbas and southern steppe zones, with some Alpinian admixtures; (5) the Mediterranean race, which appears in the territory between the Prut River and the Dnister River, south to Zalishchyky. These five groups are the results of complex processes which began in prehistoric times with the Trypillian culture. (See also Anthropological studies.)
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]