Peoples belonging to the Uralic language family live in North Eurasia (Central, Eastern and Northern Europe; Western Siberia), being the original inhabitants of these territories. Linguistically, the peoples are divided as follows:

  1. Finno-Ugrians
    1. Baltic-Finnic peoples
      1. Livonians
      2. Estonians
      3. Votes
      4. Finns (incl. Ingrian Finns)
      5. Izhorians or Ingrians
      6. Karelians
      7. Vepses
    2. Sámis or Lapps
    3. Volgaic peoples
      1. Mordvins (Erzyas and Mokshas)
      2. Maris or Cheremisses
    4. Permian peoples
      1. Udmurts or Votyaks
      2. Komis or Zyryans
      3. Permyak Komis
    5. Ugric peoples
      1. Hungarians
      2. Ob-Ugrians
        1. Khants or Ostyaks
        2. Mansis or Voguls
  2. Samoyed peoples
    1. Nganasans or Tavgi Samoyeds
    2. Enets or Yenisey Samoyeds
    3. Nenets or Yurak Samoyeds
    4. Selkups or Ostyak Samoyeds.

In the conventional usage Finno-Ugric has sometimes been used to denote all Uralic peoples, including the Samoyeds.

Regardless of the affinity of languages, the Uralic peoples differ racially, denominationally, and culturally. What they share are only their archetypal attitudes and some common traits in their mode of thought, induced by the structural similarity of languages. Western Finno-Ugrians are of the Caucasian race, while the Khants and Mansis in Siberia, the closest relatives of the Hungarians, are mixed with the Mongoloid race; Samoyeds are mostly Mongoloid. As for religion, Estonians, Finns and western Sami are Lutherans, while Hungarians are predominantly Catholic (there are also Calvinists and Lutherans). The Finno-Ugrians living in the European part of Russia are chiefly Orthodox, but among Maris and Udmurts the old nature religion (animism) still survives. The Khants, Mansis and Samoyeds are followers of the shaman religion.

History can attest that in spite of wide areas of Uralic settlement, most of the Uralic (Finno-Ugric and Samoyed) peoples have not founded independent states. For hundreds of years they have had to live under the influence of the Slavic and/or Turkic peoples and their aspirations and interests have collided with those of the ruling nations. The easternmost peoples have been subjected to Novgorod, Moscow or Imperial Russian supreme authority. The Russians were cunning warriors and knew how to use the scant population and dissension among their opponents to their own advantage; each conquered nation was used as a tool in an assault against the next one.

Colonial policy, where one party takes possession of all the natural resources, both above and below the ground, and in turn promulgates its religion, language and depravities, has not been unique to Russia. The difference lies in the fact that the Russian colonial territories are near and well enclosed within its borders. Russia (Rus´) does not have even its own state within the empire (Rossiya). All non-Russians are first Russian subjects and only after that members of their particular nations. Their well-being has depended firstly on the nature and mood of the rulers and only after that are the interests of the empire considered. The settlement areas of the Uralic peoples have always been important to Moscow as sources of raw material and of people (civilised into the sphere of influence of the Russian language and culture) as potential replenishment of the Russians. At times of need, the non-Russian people also serve as targets of hatred for the dominant population.

The fate of the Sámis and Livonians shows us that the oppressor need not always be a large nation. When a nation (whether Norwegian or Latvian) is economically and culturally active, it undertakes to “give aid” to a smaller neighbour, trying to incorporate the nation into its linguistic, economical and cultural sphere of control, overlooking the neighbour’s protests.

In evaluating the current tragic situation of the Uralic peoples it should be recognised that they have not had an opportunity to organise their lives in total harmony with their ethnic cultural heritage. They are living, and have always lived, in a state of continual opposition, of ceaseless active or passive struggle, as if climbing on a steep slope.