The purpose of this chapter is to examine the logical connections and the historical pattern of relationship between nationalism, ethnicity, and democracy. The exercise must begin with a set of definitions, and I want to start with what appears to me the most misunderstood and inadequately defined phenomenon among the three. What do we mean when we speak of ‘ethnic diversity’? On the face of it, the term refers to nothing more than a plurality of ethnicities within a society, or the existence in it-in the words of the director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Developmentof ‘physical and cultural differences, [such as] those of religion, language, and race’.1 In this sense, ‘ethnic diversity’ is both ubiquitous and innocuous. The physical and cultural differences covered by the term ‘ethnicity’— language, customs, religion, territorial affiliation, and physical typerepresent various ascriptive characteristics, often perceived as ‘primordial’ or inherited. All of us have ascriptive characteristics: our eyes are a certain color we have not chosen; we have certain, genetically determined, complexions; our families, cities, and neighborhoods into which we are born often have their specific traditions, accents, and even dialects. These ascriptive characteristics necessarily differ from those of many others within our society, and as a result, no society can be characterized as lacking ethnicity or ethnic diversity.