How do you count the number of UPGs?

January 1, 0001

Q. I’m interested in classification of UPGs and subgroups. For example, the Miao in China. Miao are an UPG with 16 or so subgroups. Does that = 16 UPGs or still only one?

Ah, the intricacies of counting peoples!

Generally, they would count as 16 groups.

On the Joshua Project list, peoples are further collected in Clusters and Affinity Blocks, and there is a Miao-Hmong Cluster which (as the name implies) contains all of the Miao and Hmong groups.

However, there’s a further complication: you can count peoples in countryor across countries.

For example, the 1.4 million Hmong Daw are found in 7 countries (Canada, China, France, Laos, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam).

So, for purposes of counting, they are 1 people group (“across countries”) and 7 people groups (“in country”).

Thus, if you look at JP’s Global Statistics page, you find there are 16,137 people groups (“by country” or “in country”, counting every group once for every country in which they reside), and 9,700 “across countries”.

The vast numbers of individual groups (many small) is one reason why I, and people I work with, have begun focusing more on Clusters, and less on individual Peoples.

We know that at the local level there will be complexities, but at the global level it’s far easier to deal with a couple hundred Clusters than with 16,137 peoples!