According to recent studies, the peoples that speak Finno-Ugric languages have lived in Europe for about ten millennia.
It seems that before the Great Migration, primarily Finno-Ugric languages were spoken in Eastern and Central Europe. Today, almost 25 million people belong to the Uralic (Finno-Ugric and Samoyed) language family, living within an area that stretches from Norway in the West to the Ob River region in the East, and to the lower reaches of the Danube in the South. Thus, various Finno-Ugric enclaves can be found within this massive domain. These groups are generally surrounded by people speaking Indo-European (Germanic, Slavic, Romance) and Turkic languages.
Uralic is sometimes used as a synonym for Finno-Ugric, though Finno-Ugric is widely understood to exclude the Samoyedic languages. Speakers of Finno-Ugric languages represent about 24 different peoples, whose political fate and status vary greatly. Despite the fact that they are the original inhabitants of the territories they live in, most of them have never had their own nation state. Only about 15 million Hungarian, 5 million Finnish, and 1 million Estonian speakers have their own independent states.
The Sámis , on the other hand, live in the territories of four different countries. The Western Sámis (in Norway, Sweden, and Finland) have been successful in not only preserving but even developing their culture and ethnic identity. The first Nordic Sámi conference was held in 1953. Together with the First Nations of Northern America, the Western Sámis founded the World Council of Indigenous Peoples in 1975.
Although on the western shore of the Baltic Sea in Latvia the Livonians (or Livs) have been constitutionally recognized as an indigenous people, the Livonian language is taught only at the university level. In the 1990s, there were fewer than 20 Livonian-speaking natives.
Setos are noticeably different from Estonians ethnologically and have claimed a separate ethnicity. This is not recognised by the Estonian state, but Estonia still supports Seto culture and language with a special fund.
The remaining 17 out of the 24 different Finno-Ugric peoples live in Russia. The largest Finno-Ugric peoples have their own so-called republics (the Karelians, the Mordvins, the Maris, and the Udmurts) or autonomous regions (the Khantys, the Mansis, and the Nenets), in all of which they are minorities. The Vepses (or Vepsians), Ingrian Finns, Izhorians, and the Selkups (Ostyak Samoyeds) have no territorial autonomy of any kind.