An ethnic group or ethnicity is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities, such as common ancestral , language , social , cultural or national experiences.   Unlike other social groups ( wealth , age , hobbies ), ethnicity is often an inherited status based on the society in which one lives. In some cases, it can be adopted if a person moves into another society. Membership of an ethnic group tends to be defined by a shared cultural heritage , ancestry , origin myth , history , homeland , language or dialect , symbolic systems such as religion , mythology and ritual , cuisine , dressing style, art , and physical appearance.
Ethnic groups, derived from the same historical founder population , often continue to speak related languages and share a similar gene pool. By way of language shift , acculturation , adoption and religious conversion , it is sometimes possible for individuals or groups to leave one ethnic group and become part of another (except for ethnic groups emphasizing racial purity as a key membership criterion).