Ainu

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Group of Ainu people, photograph c. 1904.

The Ainu are an ethnic group of northern Japan and neighboring parts of Russia. They were culturally and physically distinct from their Japanese neighbors until the second part of the 20th century.

Some early investigators proposed a Caucasoid ancestry, but genetic evidence does not support this. The Ainu may be descendants of an early population once widely spread over northern Asia, limited to remote regions by later populations expansions, thus somewhat similar to, for example, how the Han Chinese expansion to Southern China has left behind pockets of non-Han Chinese in remote regions.

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