Segregation of ethnic groups into isolated or close-knit communities may be enforced by law or discriminatory practice or it may be voluntary. It promotes tension between ethnic groups and facilitates the continued subjugation of underprivileged communities.
Ethnic segregation may take the form of the confinement of indigenous populations to reservation land (including the system of apartheid in South Africa). It may also take the form of segregation among immigrants or different ethnic groups in urban areas (ghettos) or in ethnic distribution at the rural level. Individual communities, like the Amish Community in the USA, completely segregate themselves from outside influences in order to preserve their unique way of life.
The Czech town of Usti nad Labem made headlines around the world in 1999 when it built a wall in one quarter of the city to separate two residential areas, one inhabited by ethnic Czechs, the other by ethnic Gypsies. Foreign reporters evoked horror on the international level by comparing the wall in Usti to the Berlin wall and concluding that Czechs were incapable of living with Roma in the same place and solving their problems by normal, peaceful means. A high official of the city district said to the foreign journalists: "What human rights are you talking about? They (Roma) have the right to work, but they don't work. They have the right to vote, but they don't vote. They have the right to pay their rent, but they don't pay it". Then he asked: "Gentlemen, did you consult the Indians when you set up their reservations?" The authorities said the wall was built to separate regular tax-paying and rent-paying citizens from a group of boisterous and disorderly freeloaders whose unsupervised children only disturb the neighbourhood with their noise and chaotic playing, and also because people are horrified by the tons of garbage outside the buildings.