Russia is home to as many as 160 different ethnic groups. Around 20 per cent of the country's population (30 million people) have ethnicity other than Russian.
Some of these are indigenous peoples, with a history tracing back before their territory became part of Russia. Others have ancestry from other parts of the former Soviet Union, such as the Baltic states, Belarus, Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
The Finno-Ugric peoples have their origin in the Urals. Their language family is one of few non-Indo-European to be widespread across Europe.
Finnic peoples include speakers of Finnish, Estonian, Karelian and Ingrian, which are mutually intelligible. The border between Russia and Finland has shifted over time, and many Finnic peoples live in northwestern Russia; see Nordic history.
Karelia, at the border to Finland, is home to Karelians. There are several other ethnic groups speaking Uralic languages in Russia, including Sami languages, Mari spoken in Mari El, Komi spoken in the Komi Republic, and the distantly related Nenets languages spoken in Nenetsia and Yamalia.
Russia used to be home to millions of Jews. Most of them emigrated to North America or Israel (especially in the aliya movement of the first half of the 20th century), or perished in the Holocaust. Today, around 150,000 Jews live in Russia. While the Jewish Autonomous Oblast in the Russian Far East was intended for Jewish settlement, only 2% of its inhabitants are Jews.
Turkic people in Russia include Chuvash, Tatars, and Bashkirs west of the Urals, Karachay, Balkars, and Nogais along the southern fringes of the country, and many others across Siberia, particularly in the vicinity of the Altai–Sayan Mountains (often considered to be the original Turkic homeland), all the way up to Yakutia. Most of those in the west and the south of the country are traditionally Muslim, interspersed by significant Orthodox Christian Turkic populations here and there, while those in the east adhere to the Russian Orthodox church, Buddhism, and indigenous shamanism. Most ex-Soviet Turkic republics have well-established diasporas in Russia as well.
- Khanti and Mansi of Khantia-Mansia are considered the closest linguistic relatives of the Hungarians.
- The Volga Germans are descendants of the German settlers who arrived in numbers to the Volga Region under the 1763 invitation of Catherine the Great, herself a German princess at birth. During the early Soviet era, there was an autonomous Volga German administration centred in Engels (itself renamed after one of the German co-founders of Marxist theory), but it was disestablished after the Nazi attack on the Soviets, and most of its population was exiled to the far-flung areas of the Urals, Siberia, and Central Asia. After the Soviet collapse, many Volga Germans "returned" to Germany, while some moved to Kaliningrad Oblast, formerly Germany's East Prussia, which had lost all of its original German population after World War II.
- Descendants of fishermen originally from Vardø who settled in the 19th century along the coast of the Rybachiy Peninsula, northwest from Murmansk. Only a few Kola Norwegians remain today, and even fewer maintain any level of knowledge of the local Norwegian dialect.
- Ethnically and linguistically, the North Caucasus is one of the most complex regions of the world. In the west of the region, the traditionally Muslim and closely related Adyghe, Shapshug, and Kabardin nations (often collectively known as the "Cherkess" people), distantly related to the Abkhazians and Georgians south of the Caucasus mountain range, were far more populous before most were exiled to their former overlord Ottoman Empire in 1864, after their homeland was taken by the Russians. The Ossetes, the Orthodox Christian relatives of the Persians of Iran form the majority in the central part of the region. In the east, the Avars, Chechens, and Ingush, among many less populous others, form another cluster of related communities.
- Around 200,000 Roma people live in Russia.
- 150,000 Koreans live in Russia. Most of them had migrated to the Russian Far East during the 19th century, but were deported to the Central Asian plains under Stalin.
- The Buryats of Buryatia are the biggest indigenous group in Siberia. They are culturally related to Mongols and follow Buddhism. Back in the 17th century, a group of closely-related Oirats immigrated westwards to the shores of the Caspian Sea, and settling in what is now Kalmykia, making the area the only part of Europe where Buddhists are the majority.
- A remote region in the Siberian taiga, Evenkia is home of the Evenks, traditionally reindeer herders related to the Manchu of Northeast China (Manchuria).
- The Chukchis form the majority in Chukotka, the easternmost region of Russia. Others who call the region home include the Evens (related with the Evenks), and the Yupik who also inhabit neighbouring Alaska across the Bering Strait.
- The Nivkh, traditionally semi-nomadic fishermen, form the only remaining indigenous population of the Pacific island of Sakhalin.