The identity wars started in early modern Europe around the time of the Protestant Reformation. After a century of genocidal violence that left most of Germany ruined and depopulated, those wars subsided until the French Revolution set off an even greater and more devastating wave. Closely connected to the industrial revolution and the rise of democracy, nationalism emerged as a dominant political force in 19th century Europe, spreading from northwestern Europe toward the south and east. Over the next 100 years, more than a hundred million people died in wars as multinational empires in Europe and the Middle East ripped themselves apart in paroxysms of war, genocide and ethnic cleansing.
One of the biggest questions in world politics today is whether identity wars (conflicts between groups with different cultural, religious and/or ethnic backgrounds who inhabit the same stretch of land) were a special feature of modern European and Middle Eastern history or whether these conflicts will appear in more of Africa and Asia in the 21st century as development spreads.
Nigeria and Kyrgyzstan are just two of several examples of recent and ongoing ethnic conflict; others include the Sri Lankan civil war that ended brutally in 2009 — as many as 100,000 people may have died. Pakistan, China, India, and various African and Pacific island nations are all struggling with ethnic violence, demands for independence, and conflicts between different groups