Celtic nations

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The six nations make up the modern Celtic core countries

The term “ Celtic Nations” describes population groups in modern Europe who identify with Celtic customs, especially in areas with speakers of Celtic languages . Since the middle of the 20th century, people from different countries and cultures have used modern Celticism to express their national identity. Over time, the population became widely known as Celtic. In English, these regions are also called Celt belt (Celtic belt) or Celtic fringe (Celtic edge zone) because of their geographical location in northwestern Europe . Since these terms are sometimes viewed as derogatory, the local residents also sometimes speak of the Celtic nations .

Before the Roman Empire and the Teutons expanded in Europe, the British Isles and large parts of continental Europe were predominantly Celtic populations. When the migratory movements largely came to a standstill, only the people of the north-western regions were able to protect their Celtic culture and language from the influence of immigrants. For example, the Romans, and later the Anglo-Saxons, displaced the British languages and culture in Britain .

The six nations

From North to south:

nation Celtic name language people population Number of those with language skills
ScotlandScotland Scotland Alba Scottish Gaelic ( Gàidhlig ) Bulkheads 5,000,000 92,400
Four Provinces Flag.svg Ireland ( Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland ) Éire Irish ( Gaeilge ) Irish 6,000,000 355,000
Isle of ManIsle of Man Isle of Man Ellan Vannin Manx ( Yn Ghaelg ) Manx 70,000 1,863 (as of 2011)
WalesFlag of Wales (1959 – present) .svg Wales Cymru Welsh ( Cymraeg ) Welsh 3,000,000 over 750,000
Cornwall Cornwall Kernow Cornish ( Kernewek ) Cornish people 500,000 3,500
Brittany Brittany Breizh Breton ( Brezhoneg ) Bretons 4,000,000 150,000
The names of the Celtic nations in the different (Celtic) languages
Scottish Gaelic
Ireland Ireland Éire Èirinn Nerdy Iwerddon Iwerdhon Iwerzhon
Scotland Scotland Albain Alba Nalbine yr Alban Alban Alban / Skos
Isle of Man Isle of Man Manainn
Oileán Mhanann
Eilean Mhanainn
Ellan Vannin
Ynys Manaw
Enys Vanow
Enez Vanav
Wales Wales to Bhreatain Bheag a 'Chuimrigh Bretyn Cymru Kembra Kembre
Cornwall Cornwall to choir a 'chòrn y chorus Cernyw Kernow Kernev
Brittany Brittany to Bhriotáin a 'Bhreatainn Bheag y Vritaan Llydaw Breten Vian Breizh
Great Britain Great Britain to Bhreatain Mhór Breatainn Mhòr Bretyn Vooar Prydain Fawr Breten Veur Breizh Veur
Celtic nations Celtic nations náisiúin Cheilteacha nàiseanan ceilteach ashoonyn Celtiagh gwledydd Celtaidd broyow Keltek broioù Keltiek
Celtic languages Celtic languages teangacha Ceilteacha cànain / teangan Cheilteach çhengaghyn Celtiagh ieithoedd Celtaidd yethow Keltek yezhoù Keltiek

These six nations are (as the only ones) recognized as Celtic by the Celtic League , the Celtic Congress and most other pan-Celtic groups and organizations. Each of the six nations has its own Celtic language, which is the key criterion for the organizations mentioned.

In four of the six nations (Brittany, Ireland, Scotland, Wales) there are areas in which a Celtic language is predominant (in Ireland, for example, these are called Gaeltachtaí ). These areas are mostly located in the western areas of the countries, in the mountains or on islands.

Other areas

The Celts today and in the past
  • Regions with speakers of Celtic languages
  • The six Celtic nations
  • Maximum expansion of the Celts in the 3rd century BC Chr.
  • Area of ​​the Hallstatt culture in the 6th century BC Chr.
  • Most of the countries of Western and Central Europe were influenced by the Celts in pre-Christian times, as can be seen from the names of places and waters of Celtic origin. In some countries today there are movements that see themselves as Celtic and demand recognition as a Celtic nation. A living Celtic language, however, only exists in a few peripheral areas of the six nations (see map).

    Sometimes, for example at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient , Galicia , Asturias and Cantabria are also counted among the (thus nine) Celtic nations. There are also Welsh and Scottish Gaelic-speaking immigrant minorities in the province of Chubut in Patagonia, Argentina and on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada .

    Iberian Peninsula

    The most important language areas on the Iberian Peninsula around 300 BC Chr .; in pale yellow the Celtic languages

    There is an area in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula that has been influenced by the Celtic culture. This area roughly corresponds to the regions of Galicia , Asturias , Northern Portugal , Cantabria and León . In none of these regions there is still a Celtic language, although some place names have a Celtic origin; Celticism is more likely to be justified with the Celtic consciousness itself, as there was a long tradition of Celticism because of the Celtic tribes settled in this region. Hence, there are similarities between the inhabitants of this area and those of other nations in both cultural (music, dances, folklore , festivals, food) and genetic aspects.


    Celtic traditions and customs still persist in England , particularly in the areas in the extreme south-west and north (see Devon and Cumbria ). With the extinction of the Old Devonian , Cumbrian and Cornish languages, England lacks a Celtic language. The island of Great Britain was inhabited by several local Celtic tribes in ancient times , but none of them formed the English nation. In the Celtic languages ​​the country is therefore usually called Sachsen -Land ( Sasana , Pow Saws , Bro-Saoz etc.), and in Welsh as Lloegr (in the Welsh translation from English the country is again Saesneg , the English Saeson , in the singular Saes ). The name comes from the fact that the Celtic peoples of England were subject to the invading Saxons and took over their culture and language; however, spoken Kumbrian survived until the 12th century. The north of England forms the historical landscape of Hen Ogledd (Welsh for the old north , the inhabitants were called men of the north by other Celts ). Hen Ogledd, together with Wales and Cornwall, forms the three British territories of Great Britain.

    In contrast to the example above, there is hardly any political motivation here; it was rather recognized that local linguistic and cultural peculiarities can be traced back to Celtic origins. So the name Cumbria has the same roots as Cymru , the name of Wales in Welsh; both can be translated as Land of Companions .

    Former Gallic regions

    Division of Gaul approx. 54 BC Chr.

    Many French identify with the Gauls . The Italian Aosta Valley , where French and Arpitan are spoken, also has a Celtic heritage, with the Lega Nord party, which is striving for autonomy, often emphasizes and glorifies Padania's Celtic roots . The Walloons are also sometimes referred to as Celts to distinguish them from the “Teutonic” Flemings and “Latin” French; the word Wallonen comes from a Germanic word that means "foreign" ( see also: Welsche ), and is related to Welsh and Wallachians .

    Central and Southeast Europe

    Furthermore, Celtic tribes also inhabited the area of ​​what is now southern Germany , Switzerland and Austria . The early Celtic peoples are often associated with the Hallstatt period . Some of the tribes of Central Europe were, for example, the Boier , Helvetier , Skordisker and Vindeliker , whereby these inhabited the present day Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia and Poland in addition to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. So Bohemia got its name from the Boiern. The Skordisker founded Singidunum , today's Belgrade. The Latène culture was also widespread in Central Europe, the name comes from the archaeological site of La Tène in Switzerland.

    Outside of Europe

    Even in regions outside of Europe there are people who often come from the Celtic nations and feel connected to Celticism. Celtic traditions and languages ​​sometimes play an important role in regional culture.

    Thus, in Canada Irish example in Tamworth ( Ontario ) and in the southeast of Newfoundland spoken on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia is Canadian Gaelic (self-designation: Gàidhlig Canadanach), a dialect of Scottish Gaelic, spoken and Estrie in Quebec are There are still Celtic place names that come from Scottish immigrants. Welsh-speaking Argentinians (called "Y Wladfa") live in the valley of the Río Chubut in Patagonia . In the southern states and some other regions of the USA one can also observe influences on the culture by Celtic immigrants. There are also Scottish Gaelic place names and Celtic traditions in the Otago and Southland regions in southern New Zealand . Overall, one can say that there are many people in the former colonies of the British Empire (e.g. USA , Australia , South Africa ) who feel connected to the Celtic culture.

    See also