The Nubians are an ethnic minority which occupies the Nile Valley between the first and fourth cataract. That is why they are also called Nile Nubians. In their ethnicity they are different from the many people groups of the Nuba Mountains in western Sudan. They are racially distinct from the majority of Egyptians, though not from all Sudanese people. Due to the frequent migration of people within Nubia and the constant flux of invasions and intrusions into Nubia contemporary Nubians constitute a sort of “ethnic mixture”. From north to south we have the following ethnic distinctions, which were drawn in correspondence to the linguistic divisions.

In the northern most territory (from Aswan to Sebua) the Kunuuz are located. The Kunuuz were considered to be the result of an amalgamation of local population in Nubia with the Arab-Beja Beni Kanz tribe form the Middle Ages onwards. Thus, the Kunuuz partly claimed to be of Arab descent and looked down on other Nubian groups.

Next to the Kunuuzi area, from Sebua to Korosko (Wadi al-Arab), there was a small section of formerly nomadic, but later settled and assimilated Arabs. The population occupying this stretch of the Nile Valley was called Aleqat. Despite the fact that Arabic was their mother tongue, they were considered to be Nubians in terms of social organization and culture. Until the 1960s, however, the Aleqat did not refer to themselves as Nubians, but emphasized their descent from the Arabian peninsula.

Adjoining the Aleqat enclave there was a large region in which the usage of the Nobiin clearly prevailed. The ethnic subgroups in this area were: Fadija (between Korosko and Adindan), Sukkot (north and south of Abri) and Mahas (up to a few km south of the third cataract).

The area of Dongola is still inhabited by a large Nubian subgroup, called Danagla. Despite the geographical distance, their dialect is linguistically very close to the Kunuuzi (spoken in the far north of Nubia). Most probably part of the Danagla left the Dongola region and immigrated to the Aswan region to settle there.