Ethnic map in Europe, 1890

Historical Ethnic Geography (HEG) data

Ethnic map in Europe, 1890

Historical Ethnic Geography (HEG) data


The Historical Ethnic Geography (HEG) data covers Europe between 1886 and 2020. HEG addresses the lack of time-varying and historical data on ethnic geography that spans across state borders. It is based on a collection of 73 digitized and standardized historical ethnic maps of Europe coupled with hand-coded data on mostly violent and at times peaceful periods of major ethno-demographic change. The data map ethnic geography in Europe – defined expansively to include the Caucasus, the Levant, and Northern Africa – from 1886 to 2020 using time-variant rasters that provide estimates of the ethnic composition of local populations. Compared to prior polygon-based data, HEG efficiently combines information across multiple maps, approximates local ethnic diversity, and avoids imposing arbitrary population thresholds beyond those affecting the original map material. The data are time-variant, based on historical information, and independent of changing state borders. Because the data is based on historical maps, it only captures spatially broad patterns of ethnic geography rather than local ethnic diversity resulting from individual-level migration.

Please refer to this article for all details.

Data and code

We provide the data for download and as a R-package on


When using this dataset in your research, please include the following reference:

Müller-Crepon, Carl, Guy Schvitz, and Lars-Erik Cederman (2024). “Right-Peopling” the State: Nationalism, Historical Legacies, and Ethnic Cleansing in Europe, 1886-2020. Journal of Conflict Resolution, Online First.

Carl Müller-Crepon
Assistant Professor

My research focuses on state building, development, and conflict, in particular in 20th century Africa.