The Punjabis (Punjabi: پنجابی, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ), or Punjabi people, are an ethnic group associated with the Punjab region, who speak Punjabi, a language from the Indo-Aryan language family. The name Punjab literally means the land of five waters in Persian: panj ("five") āb ("waters"). The name of the region was introduced by the Turko-Persian conquerors of South Asia. Punjab is often referred to as the breadbasket in both Pakistan and India. The coalescence of the various tribes, castes and the inhabitants of the Punjab into a broader common "Punjabi" identity initiated from the onset of the 18th century CE. Prior to that the sense and perception of a common "Punjabi" ethno-cultural identity and community did not exist, even though the majority of the various communities of the Punjab had long shared linguistic, cultural and racial commonalities. Traditionally, Punjabi identity is primarily linguistic, geographical and cultural. Its identity is independent of historical origin or religion, and refers to those who reside in the Punjab region, or associate with its population, and those who consider the Punjabi language their mother tongue. Integration and assimilation are important parts of Punjabi culture, since Punjabi identity is not based solely on tribal connections. More or less all Punjabis share the same cultural background. Historically, the Punjabi people were a heterogeneous group and were subdivided into a number of clans called biradari (literally meaning "brotherhood") or tribes, with each person bound to a clan. However, Punjabi identity also included those who did not belong to any of the historical tribes. With the passage of time, tribal structures are coming to an end and are being replaced with a more cohesive and holistic society, as community building and group cohesiveness form the new pillars of Punjabi society. In relative contemporary terms, Punjabis can be referred to in three most common subgroups; Punjabi Muslims, Punjabi Sikhs and Punjabi Hindus.
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