For the American hip hop artist, see Mestizo (rapper). For the Mexican pop group, see Mestizzo.

A casta painting of a Spanish man and a Peruvian indigenous woman with Mestizo child, 1770.
Regions with significant populations
Latin America
United States
Cape Verde
Predominantly Spanish, Portuguese, English, Indigenous languages and Papiamento
Predominantly Christianity (Roman Catholic, Protestant especially Pentecostal and Evangelical), Indigenous beliefs, Atheists.
Related ethnic groups
Amerindian peoples
European peoples

Mestizo (/mɛˈstiz/;[1] Peninsular Spanish: [mesˈtiθo], Latin American Spanish, Philippine Spanish: [mesˈtiso]) is a term traditionally used in Spain and Spanish America to mean a person of combined European and Amerindian descent, or someone who would have been deemed a Castizo (one European parent and one Mestizo parent) regardless if the person was born in Latin America or elsewhere. The term was used as an ethnic/racial category in the casta system that was in use during the Spanish Empire's control of their New World colonies. Mestizos are usually considered to be mixed Spaniards by the crown of Spain.

The term mestizaje - taking as its root mestizo or "mixed" - is the Spanish word for miscegenation, the general process of mixing ancestries.

To avoid confusion with the original usage of the term mestizo, mixed people started to be referred to collectively as castas. During the colonial period, mestizos quickly became the majority group in much of the Spanish-speaking parts of Latin America, and when the colonies started achieving independence from Spain, the mestizo group often became dominant. In some Latin American countries, such as Mexico, the concept of the "mestizo" became central to the formation of a new independent identity that was neither wholly Spanish nor wholly indigenous, and the word mestizo acquired its current meaning of dual cultural heritage and descent.

In colonial Venezuela, pardo was more commonly used instead of mestizo. Pardo means being mixed without specifying which mixture;[2] it was used to describe anyone born in the Americas whose ancestry was a mixture of European, Amerindian, and Black African.[3]

In the Spanish system of racial hierarchy, the sistema de castas, mestizos/pardos, who formed the majority, had fewer rights than the minority elite European-born persons called peninsulares, and the minority white colonial-born whites criollo, but more rights than the now minority indios, negro, mulato and zambo populations.

In colonial Brazil most of the non-slave population was mestiço (Portuguese spelling) in the original Iberian definition of the word (mixed). There was no descent-based casta system, and children of upper class white landlord males and female slaves would enjoy privileges higher than the ones given to the lower classes, such as formal education, though such cases were not so common and they tended to not inherit the property, generally given to the children of free women, who tended to be the legitimate ones in cases of concubinage (also a common practice, inherited from Amerindian and African customs).

In the Philippines, which was a colony of Spain, the term mestizo came to refer to a person with Filipino and any foreign ancestry.

In Canada, the Métis people is a community composed of those who possess combined European (usually French, sometimes Scottish or English) and North American Amerindian ancestry.

In Saint Barthélemy, the term mestizo refers to people of mixed European (usually French) and East Asian ancestry.[4]


The Spanish word mestizo is from Latin mixticius, meaning mixed.[5][6] Its usage has been documented as early as 1275, to refer to the offspring of an Egyptian and a Jew.[7] This term was first documented in English in 1582.[8]

Modern-day use

In the United States, Canada and other English-speaking countries and cultures, mestizo, as a loanword from Spanish, is used to mean a non-white of mixed European and Amerindian descent exclusively, generally with connection to a Latin American culture and/or of Latin American descent, a concept much stricter than that found in Romance languages (especially Portuguese, possessing terms that are not cognate with mestizo for such admixture, and thus the concept of mestiço is not seen as particularly connected with Amerindian ancestry at all). It is related to the particular racial identity of historical non-white Amerindian-descended Hispanic and Latino American communities in an American context.

In English-speaking Canada, Métis (with upper-case), as a loanword from French, refers to persons who self-identify as mixed-race. French-speaking Canadians would rather differentiate between the Canadian Métis ethnicity, and the broader concept of mixed-race people in general (métis with lowercase), present in all other French-speaking countries, as would speakers of Spanish. In the United States, Métis Americans and Mestizo Americans are two distinct racial and ethno-racial identities, as reflected in the use of French and Spanish loanwords, respectively.

In the Philippines, the word mestizo usually refers to a Filipino with combined Indigenous and European ancestry, but occasionally it will be used for a Filipino with apparent Chinese ancestry, who will also be referred to as 'chinito'. The latter was officially listed as a "mestizo de sangley" in birth records of the 19th century, with 'sangley' as a reference to the Hokkiense word for business, 'seng-li'.

In the Portuguese-speaking world, the contemporary sense has been the closest to the historical usage from the Middle Ages, because of important linguistic differences, so that mestiço (mixed-race, mixed-ethnicity, miscegenated, etc.) is separated altogether from pardo (any kind of brown people) and caboclo (brown people originally of European–Amerindian admixture or assimilated Amerindians), in which mestiços can be also fully white, black or East Asian in their full definition (thus not brown) and one does not need to be a mestiço to be a part of the latter two categories.

In Brazil specifically, at least in modern times all non-Indigenous people are part of a single ethnicity (os brasileiros; lines between ethnic groups are historically fluid), the mestiço (Portuguese pronunciation: [meʃˈt(ʃ)isu], [miʃˈt(ʃ)isu]) group is by far the largest among the free people since the earliest decades of the colony. As explained above, the concept of mestiço should not in any way be confused with the mestizo as used in either the Spanish-speaking world or the English-speaking one, as it relates no special relation to being of Amerindian extraction, and also should not be confused with pardo, literally "brown people" (there are mestiços among all major groups of the country, Indigenous, Asian, white, pardo and black, and they are likely the majority in the three latter ones).


Mestizo (Spanish: [mesˈtiθo] or [mesˈtiso]), mestiço (Portuguese: [mɨʃˈtisu], [mesˈt(ʃ)isu] or [miʃˈt(ʃ)isu]), métis (French: [meˈtis]), mestís (Catalan: [məsˈtis]), Mischling (German: [mɪʃˈlɪŋɡ]), meticcio (Italian: [meˈtittʃo]), mestiezen (Dutch: [mɛsˈtizən]), mestee (Middle English: [məsˈtiː]), and mixed (English) are all cognates of the Latin word mixticius.


Main article: Casta
Las castas. 18th century, Museo Nacional del Virreinato, Tepotzotlán, Mexico.

In the Spanish colonial period, the Spanish developed an extremely vast complex system of racial hierarchy, which was used for social control and which also determined a person's standing in society.[9]

There were three main categories of race during the initial period of colonization of the Americas by the Spanish: White Spaniard (español), Amerindian (indio), and Black African (negro). During the Spanish colonial era, a myriad of terms (such mestizo, pardo, mulato and zambo) were created to differentiate these racial mixtures, called collectively castas.[10] By the end of the colonial period in 1821, over one hundred sub-categories of possible variations of mixture existed, but official church and civil records were maintained with few categories. Church baptismal and marriage registers and civil records (censuses, arrest records) used the terms español, castizo, mestizo, mulato, and indio.


As time went on, a system of racial hierarchy, the sistema de castas or the sociedad de castas developed where society was divided based on race, wealth, and where one was born. The main divisions were as follows:

  1. Español (fem. española) - white, of European ancestry; a blanket term, subdivided into Peninsulares and Criollos;
  2. Peninsular – a European born in Spain;
  3. Criollo (fem. criolla) – a White person with Spanish or European descent born in the Americas;
  4. Castizo (fem.) castiza) - a person with 3/4 español ancestry, 1/4 indio; the offspring of a castizo and an español was considered español.
  5. Mestizo (fem. mestiza) – a person of mixed White European and Amerindian ancestry;
  6. Indio (fem. India) - someone of pure indigenous ancestry.
  7. Pardo (fem. parda) – a person of mixed white European, Native American Indian and African Black ancestry;
  8. Mulato (fem. mulata) – a person of mixed White European and Black African ancestry;
  9. Zambo – a person of mixed Black African and Native American Indian Ancestry;
  10. Negro (fem. negra) – a person of African descent;

Persons of mixed race were collectively referred to as castas.[10] In theory, and as depicted in eighteenth-century Mexican casta paintings, español status could also be attained by people of mixed origin who consistently had intermarried with Europeans. Such cases might include the offspring of a castizo (3/4 Spanish and 1/4 Indian) parent and one Peninsular or criollo parent.[11]

A person's legal racial classification in colonial Spanish America was closely tied to social status, wealth, culture and language use. Wealthy people paid to change or obscure their actual ancestry. Many indigenous people left their traditional villages and sought to be counted as mestizos to avoid tribute payments to the Spanish.[12] Many indigenous people, and sometimes those with partial African descent, were classified as mestizo if they spoke Spanish and lived as mestizos.

In the early colonial period, the offspring of españoles and Indias were raised either in the Hispanic world, if the father recognized the child, even though illegitimate; or the child was raised in the indigenous world of the mother if he did not. As early as 1533, Charles V mandated the high court (Audiencia) to take the children of Spanish men and indigenous women from their mothers and educate them in the Spanish sphere.[13] As this mixed group born out of wedlock increased in numbers, generally living in their mother's indigenous communities, but increasingly not accepted there either, and being designated mestizos with the assumption that they were illegitimate.[13]

When the Mexican republic was established in 1824, legal racial categories ceased to exist. The production of casta paintings in New Spain ceased at the same juncture, after almost a century as a genre.

Because the term had taken on a myriad of meanings, the designation "mestizo" was removed from census counts in Mexico and is no longer in use.[8]

Spanish-speaking North America


A representation of a Mestizo, in a Pintura de Castas from New Spain during the late colonial period. The painting's caption states "Spanish and Indian produce Mestizo", 1780.

The large majority of Mexicans can be classified as "mestizos", meaning in modern Mexican usage that they identify fully neither with any indigenous culture nor with a particular non-Indigenous heritage, but rather identify as having cultural traits and heritage incorporating both indigenous and European elements. By the deliberate efforts of post-revolutionary governments the "Mestizo identity" was constructed as the base of the modern Mexican national identity, through a process of cultural synthesis referred to as mestizaje ([mes.tiˈsa.xe]). Mexican politicians and reformers such as José Vasconcelos and Manuel Gamio were instrumental in building a Mexican national identity on the concept of mestizaje (the process of race mixture).[14][15]

Cultural policies in early post-revolutionary Mexico were paternalistic towards the indigenous people, with efforts designed to "help" indigenous peoples achieve the same level of progress as the rest of society, eventually assimilating indigenous peoples completely to mainstream Mexican culture, working toward the goal of eventually solving the "Indian problem" by transforming indigenous communities into mestizo communities.[16]

A statue of Gonzalo Guerrero, who adopted the Maya way of life and fathered the first mestizo children of Mexico, but not of the Americas, since the first mestizos were born in the Caribbean, by Spanish men and indigenous Caribbean women.

The term "Mestizo" is not in wide use in Mexican society today and has been dropped as a category in population censuses; it is, however, still used in social and cultural studies when referring to the non-indigenous part of the Mexican population. The word has somewhat pejorative connotations and most of the Mexican citizens who would be defined as mestizos in the sociological literature would probably self-identify primarily as Mexicans. In the Yucatán peninsula the word mestizo is even used about Maya-speaking populations living in traditional communities, because during the caste war of the late 19th century those Maya who did not join the rebellion were classified as mestizos.[17] In Chiapas, the term Ladino is used instead of mestizo.[18]

Sometimes, particularly outside of Mexico, the word "mestizo" is used with the meaning of Mexican persons with mixed Indigenous and European blood. This usage does not conform to the Mexican social reality where a person of pure indigenous genetic heritage would be considered mestizo either by rejecting his indigenous culture or by not speaking an indigenous language,[17] and a person with a very low percentage of indigenous genetic heritage would be considered fully indigenous either by speaking an indigenous language or by identifying with a particular indigenous cultural heritage.[19]

Genetic studies

A 2012 study published by the Journal of Human Genetics found that the majority of the current Mexican population (≈93%) is mixed race to some degree, the study found that the Y-chromosome (paternal) ancestry of the average Mexican-Mestizo was predominately European (64.9%), followed by Native American (30.8%), and African (4.2%). The European ancestry was more prevalent in the north and west (66.7–95%) and Native American ancestry increased in the centre and south-east (37–50%), the African ancestry was low and relatively homogeneous (0–8.8%).[20] The states that participated in this study were Aguascalientes, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Durango, Guerrero, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Veracruz and Yucatán.[21]

A study of 104 mestizos from Sonora, Yucatán, Guerrero, Zacatecas, Veracruz, and Guanajuato by Mexico's National Institute of Genomic Medicine, reported that Mestizo Mexicans are 58.96% European, 31.05% Native American, and 10.03% African. Sonora shows the highest European contribution (70.63%) and Guerrero the lowest (51.98%) which also has the highest Native American contribution (37.17%). African contribution ranges from 2.8% in Sonora to 11.13% in Veracruz. 80% of the Mexican population was classed as mestizo (defined as "being racially mixed in some degree").[22]

In May 2009, the same institution (Mexico's National Institute of Genomic Medicine) issued a report on a genomic study of 300 mestizos from those same states. The study found that the Mestizo population of these Mexican states were on average 55% of indigenous ancestry followed by 41.8% of European, 1.8% of African, and 1.2% of East Asian ancestry.[23]

The study also noted that whereas Mestizo individuals from the southern state of Guerrero showed on average 66% of indigenous ancestry, those from the northern state of Sonora displayed about 61.6% European ancestry. The study found that there was an increase in indigenous ancestry as one traveled towards to the Southern states in Mexico, while the indigenous ancestry declined as one traveled to the Northern states in the country, such as Sonora.[23]

El Salvador

Painting of the First Independence Movement celebration in San Salvador, El Salvador. At the center, José Matías Delgado, a Salvadoran priest and doctor known as El Padre de la Patria Salvadoreña (The Father of the Salvadoran Fatherland), alongside his nephew Manuel José Arce, future Salvadoran president of thee Federal Republic of Central America.

In Central America, forced intermixing and intermarriage by European men with the Native American Indigenous Lenca and Pipil women of what is now El Salvador happened almost immediately after the arrival of the European Spanish led by Pedro de Alvarado. The majority of Salvadorans in El Salvador identify themselves as 86.3% mestizo, leaving 12.7% white and 1% indigenous and Black Salvadoran population as a minority according to the 2007 official Census.[24]

Salvadorans who are racially European, especially Mediterranean, and indigenous people in El Salvador who do not speak indigenous languages nor have an indigenous culture, as well as tri-racial Pardo Salvadorans, also identify themselves as Mestizo culturally. El Salvador is the only country in Central America that does not have a significant African population due to many factors including El Salvador not having a Caribbean coast, and because of president Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, who passed racial laws to keep black people out of El Salvador, though Salvadorans with African ancestry are present in El Salvador, the majority are tri-racial Pardo Salvadorans who largely cluster with the Mestizo population.

The enslaved Africans that were brought to El Salvador during the colonial times, eventually came to mix and merged into the much larger and vaster Mestizo mixed European Spanish/Native Indigenous population creating Pardo or Afromestizos who cluster with Mestizo people of Indigenous and European ancestry creating the modern day Mestizo population in El Salvador.

Thus, there remains no significant extremes of African physiognomy among Salvadorans like there is in the other countries of Central America. Maximiliano was also responsible for La Matanza ("The Slaughter"), in which indigenous people were murdered in an effort to wipe out the indigenous people in El Salvador during the 1932 Salvadoran peasant uprising. Indigenous peoples, mostly of Pipil and Lenca descent are still present in El Salvador in small communities, conserving their languages, customs, and traditions.

Spanish-speaking South America

A Mestizo man and his india wife, New Spain 1763, by Miguel Cabrera.

Argentina and Uruguay

Initially colonial Argentina and Uruguay had a predominately mestizo population like the rest of the Spanish colonies, but due to a flood of European migration in the 19th century, and the repeated intermarriage with white Europeans; the mestizo population became a so-called castizo population. With more Europeans arriving in the early 20th century, the face of Argentina and Uruguay has overwhelmingly become white and European in culture and tradition. Because of this, the term mestizo has fallen into disuse. In the last decades a significative influx of immigrants to Argentina from neighboring countries with larger mestizo and indigenous populations such as Bolivia and Paraguay has been revitalizing the so-called mestizo population.


Main article: Chilean people

In Chile, from the time the Spanish soldiers with Pedro de Valdivia entered northern Chile, a process of 'mestizaje' began where white Spaniards began to mate with the local bellicose Araucanian population of Amerindians to produce an overwhelmingly mestizo population during the first generation in all of the cities they founded. In Southern Chile, the Mapuche, an Amerindian group of Araucanians, were one of the only Amerindian tribes in the Americas that were in continuous conflict with the Spanish Empire and did not submit to a European power.

A public health book from the University of Chile states that 30% of the population is of Caucasian origin; mestizos are estimated to amount a total of 65%, while Native Americans (Amerindians) comprise the remaining 5%. A genetic study by the same university showed that the average Chilean's genes are 60% Caucasian and 40% Amerindian.

Despite the genetic considerations, many Chileans, if asked, would self-identify as white. The 2011 Latinobarómetro survey asked respondents in Chile what race they considered themselves to belong to. Most answered "white" (59%), while 25% said "mestizo" and 8% self-classified as "indigenous". A 2002 national poll revealed that a majority of Chileans believed they possessed some (43.4%) or much (8.3%) "indigenous blood", while 40.3% responded that they had none.


Main article: Paraguayan people

During the reign of José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, the first consul of Paraguay from 1811 to 1840, he imposed a law that no Spaniard may intermarry, and that they may only wed mestizos or Indians. This was introduced to eliminate any sense of racial superiority, and also to end the predominantly Spanish influence in Paraguay. De Francia himself was not a mestizo (although his grandfather on his father's side was Afro-Brazilian), but feared that racial superiority would create class division which would threaten his absolute rule.

As a result of this, today 90% of Paraguay's population are mestizo, and the main language is the native Guaraní, spoken by 60% of the population as a first language, with Spanish spoken as a first language by 40% of the population, and fluently spoken by a further 75%, making Paraguay one of the most bilingual countries in the world. Although it did not had the exposition to miscegenation as de Francia wanted, after the tremendous decline of male population as a result of the War of the Triple Alliance, European male worker émigrés mixed with the female Guaraní population so as that pushed a middle class of Mestizo background largely accepted as a configuration of the country.


Main article: Mestizo Colombian

Colombia whose land was named after explorer Christopher Columbus is the product of the interacting and mixing of the European conquistadors and colonist with the different Amerindian peoples of Colombia. Later the African element was introduced into the coastal parts of Colombia as slaves.

Over time Colombia has become a primarily Mestizo/White country due to limited immigration from Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, with the minorities being: the Mulattoes and Pardos living primarily in the coastal areas; and pockets of Amerindians living around the rural areas and the Amazonian Basin regions of the country.

An extraofficial estimate considers that the 49% of the Colombian population is Mestizo or of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry. Approximately 37% is of European ancestry (predominantly Spanish, and a part of Italian, French, and German) and of Middle Eastern ancestry. 10.6% is of African ancestry. Indigenous Amerindians comprise 3.4% of the population. 0.01% of the population are Roma.[25] The 2005 census reported that the "non-ethnic population", consisting of whites and mestizos (those of mixed white European and Amerindian ancestry, constituted 86% of the national population.[25]


During the colonial era, the majority of Ecuadorians were Amerindians and the minorities were the White Spanish Conquistadors, who came with Francisco Pizarro and Sebastian de Benalcazar. With the passage of time these Spanish conquerors and succeeding Spanish colonists sired offspring with the local Amerindian population, since Spanish immigration did not initially include many white females to the colonies. In a couple of generations a predominately mestizo population emerged in Ecuador with a drastically declining Amerindian Population due to European diseases and wars.

Afro-Ecuadorians (Zambos and Mulattoes), who are a minority in the country, can be found mostly in the Esmeraldas Province, in the Valle del Chota of the Imbabura Province, and as small communities of Afro-Ecuadorians living along the coastal areas as minorities.

Mestizos are by far the largest of all the ethnic groups, and comprise 71.9% of the current population. The next 28% of the population is comprised by four ethnic groups with about 7% each, the Montubios, Afroecuadorian, Amerindian (Indigenous) and White. In recent years, due to Ecuador's rapid development and economic growth, many Europeans and North Americans have migrated to Ecuador escaping the post-crisis widespread economic instability and due to its advantages for those entering retirement. They are also drawn by Ecuador's new programs in education and research.


Mestizo-Mestiza, Peru, circa 1770.

According to Alberto Flores Galindo, "By the 1940 census, the last that utilized racial categories, mestizos were grouped with whites, and the two constituted more than 53 percent of the population. Mestizos likely outnumbered Indians and were the largest population group."[26]


Main article: Mestizos in Venezuela

Mestizos are the majority in Venezuela, accounting for 49.9% of the country's population. According to D'Ambrosio[27] 57.1% of mestizos have mostly European characteristics, 28.5% have mostly African characteristics and 14.2% have mostly Amerindian characteristics.

Notable mestizos migrating to Europe

Martín Cortés, son of the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and of the NahuatlMaya indigenous Mexican interpreter Malinche, was one of the first documented mestizos to arrive in Spain. His first trip occurred in 1528, when he accompanied his father, Hernán Cortés, who sought to have him legitimized by the Pope.

There is also verified evidence of the grandchildren of Moctezuma II, Aztec emperor, whose royal descent the Spanish crown acknowledged, willingly having set foot on European soil. Among these descendants are the Counts of Miravalle, and the Dukes of Moctezuma de Tultengo, who became part of the Spanish peerage and left many descendants in Europe.[28] The Counts of Miravalle, residing in Andalucía, Spain, demanded in 2003 that the government of Mexico recommence payment of the so-called 'Moctezuma pensions' it had cancelled in 1934.

The mestizo historian Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, son of Spanish conquistador Sebastián Garcilaso de la Vega and of the Inca princess Isabel Chimpo Oclloun arrived in Spain from Peru. He lived in the town of Montilla, Andalucía, where he died in 1616. The mestizo children of Francisco Pizarro were also military leaders because of their famous father. Starting in the early 19th and throughout the 1980s, France and Sweden saw the arrival of hundreds of Chileans, many of whom fled Chile during the dictatorial government of Augusto Pinochet.

Hispanic Asia and Oceania


Main article: Filipino mestizo

In the Philippines, the word "mestizo"[6] today generally denotes Filipinos of mixed Austronesian and any non-native, usually white, ethnicity.

Mestizos in the Philippines are traditionally a blend of Austronesian, Chinese, Spanish/Southern European, and/or Latin American ancestry and are primarily descendants of viajeros (sailors who plied the Manila-Acapulco Galleon route), soldados (soldiers) and negociantes (merchants who were primarily Spanish, Chinese, or themselves mestizos). Because of this, most mestizos in the Philippines are concentrated in the urban areas and large towns of the islands, such as Manila, Zamboanga, Cebu, and Iloilo.

More recent migrations and interracial marriages beginning in the 20th century resulted in a greater variety of racial admixture with non-Iberian Europeans, White Americans and/or other Asians.

Guam and Northern Mariana Islands

In Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, the term "mestizo" was borrowed from the Spanish language and was formerly used to identify people of mixed Pacific Islander and Spanish ancestry; however, as the United States gained control of these islands after the Spanish–American War in 1898, the term "Multiracial" replaced "Mestizo".

Mestizos/Multiracials currently form a small minority of the population. Because most Guamanians and Northern Mariana Islanders were also given Spanish surnames as part of the Spanish East Indies, persons of white American and other non-Spanish European descent with Spanish surnames may be mistaken as having such descent.

Former Portuguese colonies

José Ramos-Horta, 1996 Nobel Peace Prize winner, former President of East Timor.

Lusophone South America

Brazilian mestiço

Main article: Pardo

In Brazil, the word mestiço is used to describe individuals born from any mixture of different ethnicities or races, not specifying any relation to Amerindian or European descent whatsoever. The Mixed Race Day, or Mestizo Day (Dia do Mestiço), on June 27, is official event in States of Amazonas, Roraima e Paraíba and a holyday in two cities.

One of the most notorious group is the pardo (brown people), also informally known as moreno (tan skinned people; given its euphemism-like nature, it may be interpreted as offensive). They include mostly those of non-light [and non-black] skin color. Nevertheless, not all pardos are mestiços. For example, an Amerindian (initially and most often índio, often more formally indígena, rarely ameríndio, an East Indian (indiano)) or a Filipino may be initially described as pardo/parda (in opposition to branco, white, negro, black, and amarelo, yellow) if his or her race is unknown, and it is testified by the initial discovery reports of Portuguese navigators. In the same way, mestiço, a term used to describe anyone with any degree of miscegenation in one's blood line, may apply to all said groups (that in Portugal and its ex-colonies, always depended solely on phenotype, meaning a brown person may have a full sibling of all other basic phenotypes and thus race groups).

Descent is largely ignored, and having to choose between "white" and "mestiço" categories is a concept completely foreign to Brazilians as in the native culture it is possible to fully belong to both categories at the same time (as they describe different things). Even though all people of full European descent are white by race, not all white people are of any European descent (so that it may include few, some or most of North African, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and South Asian descent; again, phenotype is more important than descent), and neither full nor majoritary European ancestry admixed with that of people in regions where no one is white by phenotype is necessary for one to be white.

As Brazilians often believe most people to be mestiços, given how most groups have at least some minor degree of genetic exchange since what in the modern day people believe to be races were formed in the Upper Paleolithic, a term also used to explicitly explain that one has a recent major degree of miscegenation in one's blood line is miscigenado.

Important pardo groups in Brazil are the caboclos (largely contemporary usage) or mamelucos (largely archaic usage), the mulatos, and the cafuzos. The first group is composed of the culturally assimilated Amerindians as well as the brown-skinned descendants or children of both whites or moreno (swarthy) people of otherwise Caucasian phenotype and Amerindians. They are an important group in the Northern (Amazon Basin) region, but also relatively numerous on the Northeastern and Center-Western ones. Then, those, neither black- nor fair-skinned, whose origins come from the admixture between whites or morenos and blacks or cafuzos. The last group is composed of descendants of Amerindians or caboclos and blacks or other cafuzos. Finally, those whose origins possess a notorious level of European ancestry and in which neither Amerindian nor African phenotypical traces are much more present than each other are sometimes known as juçaras.

Brazilian footballer Ronaldo

There are, however, important groups who are mestiços but not [necessarily] pardos. People of East Asian and non-Asian descent combined are known as ainokos, from the Japanese "love (ai) child (ko)" (also used for all children of illegitimate birth. Mixed children are now largely referred to as "half" or hāfu), though often, for those without contact with the term, mestiço de [East Asian nationality/ethnicity] may also be used. Sararás differ from mulatos at being fair-skinned (rather than brown-skinned), and having non-straight blond or red hair.

Other people who are not brown (and thus not pardo), but also their phenotypes by anything other than skin, hair and eye color do not match white ones but rather those of people of color may be just referred to as mestiço, without specification to skin color with an identitarian connotation (there are the distinctions, though, of mestiço claro, for the fair-skinned ones, and mestiço moreno, for those of olive skin tones). In Brazilian censuses, those people may choose to identify mostly with branco (white) or pardo (brown) or leave the question on race/color blank.

Lusophone Africa

Angolan mestiço

The mestiço are primarily of mixed European, native born indigenous Angolan and/or other indigenous African lineages. They tend to be Portuguese culturally and to have full Portuguese names.

Although they make up about 2% of the population, they are the socially elite, and racially privileged, group in the country. Historically, mestiços formed social and cultural allegiances with Portuguese colonists, subsequently identifying with the Portuguese over and above their indigenous identities. Despite their loyalty, the ethnic group faced economic and political adversity at hands of the white population during times of economic hardship for whites. These actions lead to ostracizing Mestiços from their inherited economic benefits which sparked the group to take a new sociopolitical direction.

Across the 500 year Portuguese presence in the country, the Mestiço have retained their position of entitlement which is highly evident in the political, economic and cultural hierarchy in present-day Angola. Their phenotype range is broad with a number of members possessing physical characteristics that are close to others within the indigenous black non-mixed population. Since the Mestiços are generally better educated than the rest of the indigenous black population, they exercise influence in government disproportionate to their numbers.

Bissau-Guinean mestiço

1% of the population is of mixed Native African and Portuguese descent, Arab and Berber genetic influence ignored.

Mozambican mestiço

A minority population of Mozambicans of mixed Bantu and Portuguese heritage.

Mestiços of São Tomé and Príncipe

Mestiços of São Tomé and Príncipe are descendants of Portuguese colonists and African slaves brought to the islands during the early years of settlement from Benin, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola (these people also are known as filhos da terra or "children of the land").

Lusophone Asia

Sri Lankan mestiço

In Sri Lanka, the names mestiços (Portuguese for "mixed race") or casados ("married ones") were applied to people of mixed Portuguese and Sri Lankan (Sinhalese and Tamil) descent, starting in the 16th century.

French-speaking North America

Métis of Canada

Main articles: Métis (Canada) and Indian Act
Louis Riel, Canadian Métis.

French Colonial empire in Canada, the Métis are regarded as an independent ethnic group. This community of descent consists of individuals descended from marriages of First Nation women, specifically Cree, Ojibway, and Saulteaux with Europeans, usually French, English, and Scottish laborers or merchants employed in the North American Fur Trade. Their history dates to the mid 17th century, and they have been recognized as a distinct people since the early 18th century.

Traditionally, the Métis spoke a mixed language called Michif (with various regional dialects). Michif (a phonetic spelling of the Métis pronunciation of "Métif", a variant of Métis) is also used as the name of the Métis people. The name is most commonly applied to descendants of communities in what is now southern Manitoba. The name is also applied to the descendants of similar communities in what are now Ontario, Quebec, Labrador, and the Northwest Territories, although these groups' histories are different from that of the western Métis. In Northern Manitoba some communities spoke Bungee, a combination of Gaelic, Orcadian, Cree, and Ojibwe. Bungee is now extinct.

Estimates of the number of Métis vary from 300,000 to 700,000 or more. In September 2002, the Métis people adopted a national definition of Métis for citizenship within the "Métis Nation." Based on this definition, it is estimated that there are 350,000 to 400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada, although many Métis classify anyone as Métis who can prove that an ancestor applied for money scrip or land scrip as part of nineteenth-century treaties with the Canadian government. However, Labrador, Quebec, and even some Acadian Métis communities are not accepted by the Métis National Council and are represented nationally by the "Congress of Aboriginal Peoples."

The Métis are recognized as Aboriginal, but not as a First Nation by the Canadian government and do not receive the same benefits granted to First Nation peoples. However, the 1982 amendments to the Canadian constitution recognize the Métis as an aboriginal people, and have enabled individual Métis to sue successfully for recognition of their traditional rights such as rights to hunt and trap. In 2003, a court ruling in Ontario found that the Métis deserve the same rights as other aboriginal communities in Canada.

Mestizo of Saint Barthélemy

In Saint Barthélemy, the term mestizo refers to people of mixed European (usually French) and East Asian ancestry.[4]

English-speaking North America


Main article: Métis (Canada)

United States

The United States has a large mestizo population, as most Hispanic Americans of Mexican or Central or South American descent are technically mestizo. However, the term "mestizo" is not used for official purposes, with Mexican Americans being classed in roughly equal proportions as "white" or "some other race" (see links), and the term "mestizo" is not in common popular use within the United States.

Many Mexican-Americans use the term Chicano, which has a strong connection with their Native heritage.


A 19th-century community of the Métis people of Canada, the Anglo-Métis, more commonly known as Countryborn, were children of fur traders; they typically had Orcadian, Scottish, or English fathers and Aboriginal mothers. Their first languages were generally those of their mothers: Cree, Saulteaux, Assiniboine, etc. and English. Some of their fathers spoke Gaelic or Scots, leading to the development of the dialect of English known as "Bungee".

See also



  1. Mestizo. (2012). Retrieved January 1, 2012, from link
  2. "Venezuela - ETHNIC GROUPS". Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  4. 1 2 "Saint Barthelemy: People and Society". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  5. "mestizo". Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. 2008. a person of mixed blood; specifically: a person of mixed European and American Indian indigenous ancestry
  6. 1 2 "Mestizo - Define Mestizo at". Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  7. Alfonso X (1275). General Estoria. Primera parte. Spain. p. 261R. External link in |website= (help)
  8. 1 2 Herbst, Philip (1997). The Color of Words: An Encyclopædic Dictionary of Ethnic Bias in the United States. Yarmouth: Intercultural Press. p. 144. ISBN 978-1-877864-42-1.
  9. Magnus Mörner, Race Mixture in the History of Latin America. Boston: Little, Brown and Co. 1967, pp. 53-54.
  10. 1 2 Meyer, Michael C.; Sherman, William L.; Deeds, Susan M. (1999). The Course of Mexican History (6th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 195–196. ISBN 0-19-511001-3.,
  11. Mörner, Race Mixture, p.58.
  12. Peter N. Stearns & William L. Langer (2001). Encyclopedia of World History:Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, Chronologically Arranged. Houghton Mifflin Books.
  13. 1 2 Mörner, Race Mixture, p. 55.
  14. Wade, Peter (1997). Race and Ethnicity in Latin America. Chicago: Pluto Press. p. 32. ISBN 0-7453-0987-9.
  15. Knight, Alan (1990). "Racism, Revolution and indigenismo: Mexico 1910–1940". In Graham, Richard. The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870–1940. Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. 71–113 [pp. 78–85]. ISBN 0-292-73856-0.
  16. Bartolomé, Miguel Alberto (1996). "Pluralismo cultural y redefinicion del estado en México" (PDF). Coloquio sobre derechos indígenas. Oaxaca: IOC. p. 5. ISBN 968-6951-31-8.
  17. 1 2 Bartolomé, Miguel Alberto (1996). "Pluralismo cultural y redefinicion del estado en México" (PDF). Coloquio sobre derechos indígenas. Oaxaca: IOC. p. 2. ISBN 968-6951-31-8.
  18. Wade, Peter (1997). Race and Ethnicity in Latin America. Chicago: Pluto Press. pp. 44–47. ISBN 0-7453-0987-9.
  19. Knight, Alan (1990). "Racism, Revolution and indigenismo: Mexico 1910–1940". In Graham, Richard. The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870–1940. Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. 71–113 [p. 73]. ISBN 0-292-73856-0.
  20. In the total population sample, paternal ancestry was predominately European (64.9%), followed by Native American (30.8%) and African (4.2%). However, the European ancestry was prevalent in the north and west (66.7–95%) and, conversely, Native American ancestry increased in the center and south-east (37–50%), whereas the African ancestry was low and relatively homogeneous (0–8.8%), Journal of Human Genetics.
  21. Results of the study per state
  22. J.K. Estrada, A. Hidalgo-Miranda, I. Silva-Zolezzi and G. Jimenez-Sanchez. "Evaluation of Ancestry and Linkage Disequilibrium Sharing in Admixed Population in Mexico". ASHG. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  23. 1 2 "Analysis of genomic diversity in Mexican Mestizo populations to develop genomic medicine in Mexico". May 11, 2009. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
  24. Ethnic Groups -2007 official Census. Page 13.
  25. 1 2 Bushnell, David & Rex A. Hudson (2010) "The Society and Its Environment"; Colombia: a country study: 87. Washingtion D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress.
  26. Galindo, Alberto Flores (2010). In Search of an Inca: Identity and Utopia in the Andes. Cambridge University Press. p. 247. ISBN 0-521-59861-3.
  27. D'Ambrosio, B. L'emigrazione italiana nel Venezuela. Edizioni "Universitá degli Studi di Genova". Genova, 1981
  28. "La descendencia española de Moctezuma reclama pago de Mexico". El Noticiero de Alvarez Galloso. Retrieved 29 March 2015.

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