Latin Americans

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Not to be confused with Hispanic and Latino Americans.
Latin Americans
Total population
562,000,000
or more (in 2010)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Latin America: 561,183,291[2]
 Brazil 201,032,714[3]
 Mexico 114,975,406[4]
 Colombia 45,239,079[5]
 Argentina 42,192,494[6]
 Peru 29,549,517[7]
 Venezuela 28,047,938[8]
 Chile 17,067,369[9]
 Ecuador 15,223,680[10]
 Guatemala 14,099,032[11]
 Cuba 11,075,244[12]
 Bolivia 10,290,003[13]
 Dominican Republic 10,088,598[14]
 Haiti 9,801,664[15]
 Honduras 8,296,693[16]
 Paraguay 6,541,590[17]
 El Salvador 6,090,646[18]
 Nicaragua 5,727,707[19]
 Costa Rica 4,636,340[20]
 Puerto Rico 3,690,923[21]
 Panama 3,510,045[22]
 Uruguay 3,316,328[23]
 United States +50,000,000[24][25]
 Spain +1,700,000[26]
 Japan +345,000[27]
 Canada 544,380[28]
 United Kingdom 186,500[29]
 Portugal ~100,000[30]
 Australia 93,795[31]
Languages
Primarily Spanish and Portuguese.
Regionally Quechua, Mayan languages, Guaraní, Aymara, French, Nahuatl and others
Religion
Mostly Roman Catholic.
Other significant minorities.

Latin Americans (Spanish: latinoamericano, Portuguese: latino-americano) are the citizens of the Latin American countries and dependencies. Latin American countries are multi-ethnic, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds. As a result, some Latin Americans don't take their nationality as an ethnicity, but identify themselves with both their nationality and their ancestral origins.[32] Aside from the indigenous Amerindian (aka Native American) population, all Latin Americans or their ancestors immigrated within the past five centuries.

The specific ethnic and/or racial composition varies from country to country: many have a predominance of European-Amerindian, or Mestizo, population; in others, Amerindians are a majority; some are mostly inhabited by people of European ancestry; and others are primarily Mulatto.[33] Various Black, Asian, and Zambo (mixed Black and Amerindian) minorities are also identified in most countries.[33] White Latin Americans are the largest single group.[32] Together with the people of part-European ancestry they combine for approximately 80% of the population,[34] or even more.[32]

Latin Americans and their descendants can be found almost everywhere in the world, particularly in densely populated urban areas. The most important migratory destiny for Latin Americans are the United States, Western Europe, Canada and Australia.

Definition[edit]

Main article: Latin America
Latin American countries (green) in the Americas

Latin America (Spanish: América Latina or Latinoamérica; Portuguese: América Latina; French: Amérique latine) is the region of the Americas where Romance languages (i.e., those derived from Latin—particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French—are primarily spoken.[35][36]

It includes more than 20 nations: Mexico in North America; Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama in Central America; Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Guyana, Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay in South America; Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean—in summary, Hispanic America, Brazil, and Haiti.

If we consider this definition strictly, we should consider Canada and in particular Quebec as part of Latin America. The reason behind this is that Canada has French as one of its official languages alongside with English, and in particular Quebec is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level. But this region is rarely considered so, since its history, distinctive culture and economy, and British-inspired political institutions are generally deemed too closely intertwined with the rest of Canada.[37]

Latin America, therefore, can be defined as all those parts of the Americas that were once part of the French, Spanish, or Portuguese Empires.[38]

Demographics[edit]

Ethnic groups[edit]

The most widely spoken Native American languages distribution area at the beginning of 21st century: Quechua, Guarani, Aymara, Nahuatl, Mayan languages, Mapuche
Native Americans make up the majority of the population in Bolivia and Guatemala, and almost half in Peru.
Mexican dancers
Juniti Saito, head of the Brazilian Air Force and one of over a million Japanese Brazilians.
Mexican schoolchildren in Monterrey.
Peruvian marinera dancers in Trujillo festival.
Afro-Colombian fruit sellers in Cartagena.
Welsh settlement in Argentina.

The population of Latin America comprises a variety of ancestries, ethnic groups, and races, making the region one of the most diverse in the world. The specific composition varies from country to country: many have a predominance of European-Native American, or Mestizo, population; in others, Native American are a majority; some are dominated by inhabitants of European ancestry; and some countries' populations are primarily Mulatto. Black, Asian, and Zambo (mixed Black and Native American) minorities are also identified regularly. White people are the largest single group, accounting for more than a third.[32][34]

  • Native American. The indigenous population of Latin America, the Native Americans, arrived during the Lithic stage. In post-Columbian times they experienced tremendous population decline, particularly in the early decades of colonization. They have since recovered in numbers, surpassing sixty million (by some estimates[34]), though with the growth of the other groups meanwhile, they now compose a majority only in Bolivia and Guatemala and, per some sources, in Peru. In Ecuador, Native American are a large minority that comprises two-fifths of the population. Mexico's 14%[32] (9.8% in the official 2005 census) is the next largest ratio, and one of the largest Amerindian population in the Americas in absolute numbers. Most of the remaining countries have Native American minorities, in every case making up less than one-tenth of the respective country's population. In many countries, people of mixed Native American and European ancestry make up the majority of the population (see Mestizo).
  • Asians. People of Asian descent number several million in Latin America. The first Asians to settle in the region were Filipino, as a result of Spain's trade involving Asia and the Americas. The majority of Asian Latin Americans are of Japanese or Chinese ancestry and reside mainly in Brazil and Peru; there is also a growing Chinese minority in Panama. Brazil is home to perhaps two million people of Asian descent, which includes the largest ethnic Japanese community outside of Japan itself, estimated as high as 1.5 million, and circa 200,000 ethnic Chinese and 100,000 ethnic Koreans.[39][40] Ethnic Koreans also number tens of thousands of individuals in Argentina and Mexico.[41] Peru, with 1.47 million people of Asian descent,[42][43] has one of the largest Chinese communities in the world, with nearly one million Peruvians being of Chinese ancestry. There is a strong ethnic-Japanese presence in Peru, where a past president and a number of politicians are of Japanese descent. The Martiniquais population includes an African-White-Indian mixed population, and an East Indian (Asian Indian) population.[44] The Guadeloupean East Indian population is estimated at 14% of the population.
  • Blacks. Millions of African slaves were brought to Latin America from the 16th century onward, the majority of whom were sent to the Caribbean region and Brazil. Today, people identified as "Black" are most numerous in Brazil (more than 10 million) and in Haiti (more than 7 million).[45] Among the Hispanic nations and Brazil, Puerto Rico leads this category in relative numbers, with a 15% ratio. Significant populations are also found in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama, and Colombia. Latin Americans of mixed Black and White ancestry, called Mulattoes, are far more numerous than Blacks.
  • Mestizos. Intermixing between Europeans and Native Americans began early in the colonial period and was extensive. The resulting people, known as Mestizos, make up the majority of the population in half of the countries of Latin America. Additionally, Mestizos compose large minorities in nearly all the other mainland countries.
  • Mulattoes. Mulattoes are people of mixed European and African ancestry, mostly descended from Spanish or Portuguese settlers on one side and African slaves on the other, during the colonial period. Brazil is home to Latin America's largest mulatto population. Mulattoes form a majority of population in the Dominican Republic and, depending on source, Cuba as well, and are also numerous in Panama, Peru, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Ecuador. Smaller populations of mulattoes are found in other Latin American countries.[34]
  • Zambos: Intermixing between Africans and Native Americans was especially prevalent in Colombia and Brazil, often due to slaves's running away (becoming cimarrones: maroons) and being taken in by Amerindian villagers. In Spanish speaking nations, people of this mixed ancestry are known as Zambos[50] or (in Middle America), and Cafuzos in Brazil.

In addition to the foregoing groups, Latin America also has millions of tri-racial peoples of African, Native American, and European ancestry. Most are found in Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Brazil, with a much smaller presence in other countries.

Ethnic distribution, in 2005[32] - Population estimates, as of 2010[2]
Country Population[2] Native American Whites Mestizos Mulattoes Blacks Zambos Asians
 Argentina 40,134,425 1.0% 85.0% 11.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 2.9%
 Bolivia 10,907,778 55.0% 15.0% 28.0% 2.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
 Brazil 192,272,890 0.4% 47.7% 0.0% 39.1% 6.2% 0.0% 0.5% [51]
 Chile 17,063,000 3.0% 53.0% 44.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
 Colombia 45,393,050 1.8% 37.0% 49.0% 21.0% 3.9% 0.1% 0.0%
 Costa Rica 4,253,897 0.8% 82.0% 15.0% 0.0% 0.0% 2.0% 0.2%
 Cuba 11,236,444 0.0% 37.0% 0.0% 51.0% 11.0% 0.0% 1.0%
 Dominican Republic 8,562,541 0.0% 14.6% 0.0% 75.0% 7.7% 2.3% 0.4%
 Ecuador 13,625,000 39.0% 9.9% 41.0% 5.0% 5.0% 0.0% 0.1%
 El Salvador 6,134,000 1.0% 12.0% 86.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
 Guatemala 13,276,517 53.0% 4.0% 42.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.2% 0.8%
 Honduras 7,810,848 7.7% 1.0% 85.6% 1.7% 0.0% 3.3% 0.7%
 Mexico 112,322,757 14% 16.5% 68% 0.5% 0.0% 0.0% 0.5%
 Nicaragua 5,891,199 6.9% 14.0% 78.3% 0.0% 0.0% 0.6% 0.2%
 Panama 3,322,576 8.0% 10.0% 32.0% 27.0% 5.0% 14.0% 4.0%
 Paraguay 6,349,000 1.5% 3.5% 90.5% 3.5% 0.0% 0.0% 0.5%
 Peru 29,461,933 45.5% 12.0% 32.0% 9.7% 0.0% 0.0% 0.8%
 Puerto Rico 3,967,179 0.0% 74.8% 0.0% 10.0% 15.0% 0.0% 0.2%
 Uruguay 3,494,382 0.0% 88.0% 8.0% 4.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
 Venezuela 26,814,843 2.7% 42.2% 42.9% 0.7% 2.8% 0.0% 2.2%
Total 561,183,291 9.2% 36.1% 30.3% 20.3% 3.2% 0.2% 0.7%

Note: Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States.

Ethnic groups according to self-identification[edit]

The Latinobarómetro surveys have asked respondents in 18 Latin American countries what race they considered themselves to belong to. The figures shown below are averages for 2007 through 2011.[52]

Country Mestizo White Mulatto Black Amerindian Asian Other DK/NR1
 Argentina 20% 68% 1% 1% 1% 0% 3% 7%
 Bolivia 60% 4% 1% 0% 27% 0% 1% 6%
 Brazil 18% 45% 15% 15% 2% 0% 2% 2%
 Chile 26% 60% 0% 0% 7% 1% 1% 5%
 Colombia 43% 29% 5% 7% 5% 0% 1% 9%
 Costa Rica 28% 46% 14% 2% 3% 1% 1% 6%
 Dominican Republic 28% 12% 25% 27% 5% 2% 0% 2%
 Ecuador 78% 6% 3% 3% 7% 0% 0% 3%
 El Salvador 64% 10% 3% 2% 5% 1% 2% 12%
 Guatemala 29% 17% 2% 1% 44% 1% 2% 6%
 Honduras 56% 14% 3% 3% 12% 2% 1% 10%
 Mexico 53% 17% 2% 0% 15% 1% 3% 10%
 Nicaragua 66% 8% 3% 4% 7% 1% 1% 11%
 Panama 55% 17% 5% 11% 5% 2% 1% 4%
 Paraguay 36% 35% 1% 1% 2% 0% 4% 20%
 Peru 72% 7% 2% 2% 8% 0% 1% 8%
 Uruguay 6% 78% 3% 2% 1% 0% 3% 6%
 Venezuela 35% 30% 17% 7% 4% 1% 0% 5%
Weighted average2 36% 31% 8% 7% 7% 0% 2% 8%

1 Don't know/No response.
2 Weighted using 2011 population.

Language[edit]

Spanish and Portuguese are the predominant languages of Latin America. Portuguese is spoken only in Brazil, the biggest and most populous country in the region. Spanish is the official language of most of the rest of the countries on the Latin American mainland, as well as in Puerto Rico (where it is co-official with English), Cuba and the Dominican Republic. French is spoken in some Caribbean islands, including Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Haiti, as well as in the overseas departments of French Guiana (South America). Dutch is the official language of some Caribbean islands and in Suriname on the continent; however, as Dutch is a Germanic language, these territories are not considered part of Latin America.

Native American languages are widely spoken in Peru, Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay, and to a lesser degree, in Mexico, Chile and Ecuador. In Latin American countries not named above, the population of speakers of indigenous languages is small or non-existent.

In Peru, Quechua is an official language, alongside Spanish and any other indigenous language in the areas where they predominate. In Ecuador, while holding no official status, the closely related Quichua is a recognized language of the indigenous people under the country's constitution; however, it is only spoken by a few groups in the country's highlands. In Bolivia, Aymara, Quechua and Guaraní hold official status alongside Spanish. Guarani is, along with Spanish, an official language of Paraguay, and is spoken by a majority of the population (who are, for the most part, bilingual), and it is co-official with Spanish in the Argentine province of Corrientes. In Nicaragua, Spanish is the official language, but on the country's Caribbean coast English and indigenous languages such as Miskito, Sumo, and Rama also hold official status. Colombia recognizes all indigenous languages spoken within its territory as official, though fewer than 1% of its population are native speakers of these. Nahuatl is one of the 62 native languages spoken by indigenous people in Mexico, which are officially recognized by the government as "national languages" along with Spanish.

Other European languages spoken in Latin America include: English, by some groups in Argentina, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Puerto Rico, as well as in nearby countries that may or may not be considered Latin American, like Belize and Guyana (English is used as a major foreign language in Latin American commerce and education); German, in southern Brazil, southern Chile, Argentina, portions of northern Venezuela, and Paraguay; Italian, in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela; and Welsh,[53][54][55][56][57][58] in southern Argentina.

In several nations, especially in the Caribbean region, creole languages are spoken. The most widely spoken creole language in the Caribbean and Latin America in general is Haitian Creole, the predominant language of Haiti; it is derived primarily from French and certain West African tongues with Amerindian, English, Portuguese and Spanish influences as well. Creole languages of mainland Latin America, similarly, are derived from European languages and various African tongues.

Religion[edit]

The vast majority of Latin Americans are Christians, mostly Roman Catholics.[59] About 71% of the Latin American population consider themselves Catholic.[60] Membership in Protestant denominations is increasing, particularly in Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, and Puerto Rico. Argentina hosts the largest communities of both Jews[61][62][63] and Muslims[64][65][66] in Latin America.

Migration[edit]

Due to economic, social and security developments that are affecting the region in recent decades, a change has taken place from net immigration to net emigration. About 10 million Mexicans live in the United States.[67] 28.3 million Americans listed their ancestry as Mexican as of 2006.[68] According to the 2005 Colombian census or DANE, about 3,331,107 Colombians currently live abroad.[69] The number of Brazilians living overseas is estimated at about 2 million people.[70] An estimated 1.5 to two million Salvadorians reside in the United States.[71] At least 1.5 million Ecuadorians have gone abroad, mainly to the United States and Spain.[72] Approximately 1.5 million Dominicans live abroad, mostly in the US.[73] More than 1.3 million Cubans live abroad, most of them in the US.[74] It is estimated that over 800,000 Chileans live abroad, mainly in Argentina, Canada, United States and Spain. Other Chilean nationals may be located in countries like Costa Rica, Mexico and Sweden.[75] An estimated 700,000 Bolivians were living in Argentina as of 2006 and another 33,000 in the United States.[76] Central Americans living abroad in 2005 were 3,314,300,[77] of which 1,128,701 were Salvadorans,[78] 685,713 were Guatemalans,[79] 683,520 were Nicaraguans,[80] 414,955 were Hondurans,[81] 215,240 were Panamanians,[82] 127,061 were Costa Ricans[83] and 59,110 were Belizeans.

As of 2006, Costa Rica and Chile were the only two countries with global positive migration rates.[84]

Gallery[edit]

Notable Latin Americans[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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