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Most European countries have multi-racial societies owing both to historical and geographical factors. Military conquests, persecution and economic hardship have all contributed to waves of immigration.

Early British history highlights the influence of the Romans, the Vikings, the Saxons and the Normans. More recently, we have opened our doors to people from our former colonies seeking jobs, refugees seeking political asylum and other members of the European Community.

Racial integration has been successful in many areas of Britain. Intermarriage between people of similar cultures is now very common. The popularity of Chinese and Indian food and support for events such as the Notting Hill Carnival show a further acceptance of cultural differences.

However, good race relations have proved more difficult where there has been large-scale immigration involving dissimilar cultures, especially in areas of social deprivation - for example, where there is poor housing and high unemployment. Not only do immigrants become scapegoats for the problems of these areas, but they, themselves, may be reluctant to integrate for reasons of religion or cultural identity.