Porfirio Díaz (above) • Inca Garcilaso de la Vega
|Regions with significant populations|
Predominantly Roman Catholicism
|Related ethnic groups|
Mestizo (//; Castilian Spanish: [mes'tiθo], Latin American Spanish: [mes'tiso]) is a term traditionally used in Spain, and the Spanish-speaking Latin America to mean a person whose ancestors were both European and American Indians only. The term was used as a racial category in the Casta system that was in use during the Spanish empire's control of their American colonies.
During the colonial period, mestizos quickly became the majority group in much of what is today 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 double meaning of mixed cultural heritage and descent.
In colonial Venezuela, Pardo was more commonly used instead of Mestizo. Pardo means being mixed without specifying which admixture; it was used to describe anyone born in the Americas whose ancestry was a mixture of European, South American Indian, and Negro.
In the Spanish Colonial Casta system Mestizos, 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", Pardo, Negro and Mulatto populations.
In colonial Brazil, the Portuguese-speaking part of Latin America, Mestiço used to refer to a person with both European and Native South American Amerindian blood; Mulatto a person with European and Negro blood; Zambo a person with South American Amerindian and Negro blood, and Pardo (like in Venezuela)evolved to mean a person with blood from all 3 races.
In Canada, the French version of Mestizo is Metis and means a person who has European (usually French, sometimes Scottish or English) and North American Amerindian ancestry.
The Spanish word Mestizo is from the Romance / Latin word mixticius, meaning mixed. Its usage has been documented as early as 1275, to refer to the offspring of an Egyptian and a Jew. This term was first documented in English in 1582. During the Spanish (Mestizo), Portuguese (Mestiço), and French (Metis) colonization of the Americas it came to mean the offspring of a European and Amerindian only.
Modern Day Use
There are various ways of addressing someone as Mestizo, it all depends on the nation of that person. Generally, in the Spanish speaking portions of Latin America Mestizo is used to describe someone of a mixed European and American Indian ancestry only. Although, in places like Brazil and Venezuela, they mistakenly confuse the word with Pardo. In Canada, Metis, the French version of Mestizo is used to mean exclusively someone with both Native American Indian and European ancestry. In the Philipines, the word Mestizo is used to mean a Philipino with European ancestry.
Mestizo (Spanish: [mesˈtiθo] or [mesˈtiso]), Mestiço (Portuguese: [mɨʃˈtisu], [mesˈtisu] or [mesˈtʃisu]), Métis (French: [meˈtis]), Mestís (Catalan: [məsˈtis]), Meticcio (Italian: [meˈtittʃo]), Mestiezen (Dutch: [mesˈtizən]), Mestee (Middle English: [məsˈtiː]), and mixed (English) are all cognates of the Latin word mixticius.
There were three main categories of race during the initial period of colonization of the Americas by the Spanish: White Spanish European, Native South American Indian, and African Negro. During the Spanish Colonial era, a myriad terms (such mestizo, pardo, mulatto, and zambo) had to be invented to differentiate racial mixtures. By the end of the colonial period in 1821, over one hundred sub-categories of possible variations of mixture existed. As time went on, a caste system developed where society was divided based on race, wealth, and where one was born. The main divisions were as follows:
- Peninsular – a White European born in Spain;
- Criollo (fem. criolla) – a White person with Spanish or European descent born in the Americas;
- Mestizo – a person of mixed White European and Amerindian ancestry;
- Pardo (fem. Parda) – a person of mixed white European, Native American Indan and African Black ancestry;
- Indio (fem. India) – a person who is a native of, or indigenous to the Americas,
- Mulatto – a person of mixed White European and African Black ancestry;
- Zambo – a person of mixed African Black and Native American Indian Ancestry; and the (8) Negro (fem. Negra) – a person of African descent. Persons of mixed race were collectively referred to as castas.
In theory, criollo status could also be attained by people of mixed origin who consistently had intermarried with the white race. Such cases might include the offspring of a castizo (3/4 Spanish and 1/4 Indian) parent and one Peninsular or criollo parent. This one-eighth rule, also in theory, did not apply to African admixture.
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. Many indigenous people, and sometimes those with partial African descent, were classified as mestizo if they spoke Spanish and lived as mestizos.
Often, but only early on, the term mestizo was associated with illegitimacy; The term also has a pejorative use about something that is not "pure". However, it evolved in the ensuing centuries. According to historians Michael C. Meyer and William L. Sherman, early in the 16th-century Spanish colonial usage of the term, mestizo "was almost synonymous with bastard" (illegitimate child).
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.
Spanish-Speaking North America
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-Mexican heritage, but rather identify as having cultural traits and heritage incorporating elements from indigenous and European traditions. 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.ti.'sa.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. 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 Mestizo Mexican culture, working toward the goal of eventually solving the "Indian problem" by transforming indigenous communities into mestizo communities.
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. In Chiapas the word "Ladino" is used instead of mestizo.
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, 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.
In May 2009, Mexico's National Institute of Genomic Medicine issued a report on a genomic study that involved 300 Mestizos from the states of Guerrero, Sonora, Veracruz, Yucatán, Zacatecas, and Guanajuato. The study found that the Mestizo population of these Mexican states were on average 55% of indigenous ancestry followed by 41.8% European, 1.8% Other, and 1.2% East Asian ancestry. The study also noted that whereas Mestizo individuals from the southern state of Guerrero were on average 66% of indigenous ancestry, those from the northern state of Sonora were about 61.6% of European ancestry. The study found that there was an increase in indigenous ancestry as one traveled towards the Central and the more Southerly states of the country, while the indigenous ancestry declined as one traveled to the Northern states in the country, such as Sonora.
According to another study presented by the American Society of Human Genetics Mexicans were found to be 58.96% European, 36.05% Amerindian, and 5.03% Other. Sonora shows the highest European contribution (70.63%) and Guerrero the lowest (51.98%). In Guerrero one also observes the highest Asian (American Indian) contribution (37.17%). 80% of the Mexican population was classed as mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish).
In Central America intermixing and intermarriages between European men and the indigenous women in Cuzcatlán or 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 90% mestizo, leaving 9% white and 1% indigenous Salvadoran population as a minority. The mixing between the Europeans and the Native American indigenous people in El Salvador was so extensive that it is the only country in Latin America to be composed almost entirely of the Mestizo population which completely dominates other racial populations in the small nation. Salvadorans who are racially European, especially Mediterranean, and indigenous people in El Salvador who do not speak indigenous languages nor have an indigenous culture, and Salvadorans of partially Nordic race, 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 blacks out of El Salvador against the belief and will of Salvadoran people, though Salvadorans with African ancestry are present in El Salvador. 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 Afromestizos who cluster with Mestizo people of Indigenous and European ancestry creating the modern day Mestizo population in El Salvador. At the end of the colonial era the mixing of the various races in the country was well on its way in creating a population that no longer had strong ethnic identities as Native American, European, or African, but that of tri- or multiracial, perhaps one of the only places in the Americas were these three racial groups entirely mixed together; 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, Lenca and Mayan descent are still present in El Salvador in small communities, conserving their languages, customs, and traditions.
Rest of Spanish Central America
Unlike El Salvador, places like Honduras, Costa Rica, and other Central American nations, mixing between Africans, Whites, and Native Americans started earlier because of their access to the slave trade through the accesses of the Caribbean and the Atlantic causing a Mestizo population like El Salvadors. Now 2nd to El Salvador, Honduras was the most successful country in integration of all 3 races by having 90% of the population being Mestizo
Spanish-Speaking South America
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 Castizo population. With more Europeans arriving in the early 20th century, the face of Argentina and Uruguay has overwhelmingly become mestizo and European in culture and tradition.
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 Mapuches, 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 with an average 60% Caucasian ancestry and 40% Native American ancestry 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 64% Caucasian and 35% 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. Regardless the face of Chile, if visited by a European, it appears to them that Chileans are the South American Europeans even though the overwhelming majority are castizos. At the present time,[when?] Chile is culturally and racially the most homogeneous group of people in all of Latin America, and is expected to join to the first world if its economy continues to improve.
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[clarification needed], and that they may only wed blacks, mulattoes 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 90% of the population as a first language, with Spanish spoken as a first language by 10% of the population, and fluently spoken by a further 75%, making Paraguay one of the most bilingual countries in the world.
Colombia whose land was discovered and named after Christopher Columbus is the product of the interacting and mixing of the White European conquestadors and colonist with the different Amerindian peoples of Colombia. Later the African element was introduced into the coastal parts of Colombia as slaves. With the passing of 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 Mulattos 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.
According to the 2005 census, 49% of the population is Mestizo, or of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry. Approximately 37% is of European ancestry (predominantly Spanish, and a part of Italian, Portuguese, and German). About 10.6% is of African ancestry, whereas Indigenous Amerindians comprise 3.4% of the population. The 2005 census reported that the "non-ethnic population", consisting of whites and mestizos (those of mixed white European and Amerindian ancestry, including almost all of the urban business and political elite), constituted 86% of the national population. The 86% figure is subdivided into 49% mestizo and 37% white.
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 soldiers and succeeding Spanish colonists interbreed with the local Amerindian population, since Spain did not send any white females to their 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. Today if a European tourist came to visit Ecuador he would say the face of Ecuador is predominantely Mestizo or Cholo with small pockets of whites, who live in the major cities or its suburbs. Cholo is a person who has one of his parents Amerindian and the other Mestizo. In addition, the European tourist would say that in the rural areas of the Andies Mountain range and the Amazonian regions Cholos and Amerindians predominate, living in their traditional costumes and speaking their own language. Furthermore, 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.
Mestizo/Cholo, the biracial group of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry, are by far the largest of all the ethnic groups, and comprise around 71.9% of the current population. The second most important group are the indigenous Amerindians (in Spanish indígenas, amerindios, or more controversially, indios), who account for approximately 7.0% of the population. Whites (in Spanish blancos) are estimated at 6.1% consists largely of the early Spanish colonists mixed with a small insignificant amount of European immigrants to Ecuador predominantly from Spain, Italy, and Germany as well as other European countries that came during the World Wars of the early 20th century. The minority population of Afro-Ecuadorians, mostly Mulattoes and Zambos, comprise 7.2% of the population living primarily in the Esmeraldas Province and the Chota Valley in the Imbabura Province.
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."
Notable mestizos migrating to Europe
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Martín Cortés, son of the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and of the Nahuatl–Maya 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. 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 1970s and throughout the 1980s, Europe saw the arrival of thousands of Chileans, many of whom were mestizos, seeking political refuge during the dictatorial government of Augusto Pinochet. Today, there is a growing number of mestizo immigrants in Western Europe, primarily from Ecuador, Peru and Colombia.
Former Spanish East Indies in Asia and the Pacific Ocean
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 (seafarers in the Manila Galleon Trade), suldados (soldiers) and negociantes (merchants – primarily Spanish, Mestizo, or Chinese).
Because of this, most mestizos in the Philippines are concentrated in the bigger Port, Fort and Business cities in the country like Manila, Cebu, and Iloilo.
More recent migrations and interracial marriages resulted to more variety in racial mix including Northern European, White American, and/or other Asian mix.
Guam and Northern Mariana Islands
In Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, the term "Mestizo" was borrowed from the American colonies 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 during Spanish colonial times, persons of white American and other non-Spanish European descent with Spanish surnames may be mistaken as having such descent.[clarification needed]
Portuguese-Speaking South America, Africa, and Asia
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Mestiço is the Portuguese version of the Spanish mestizo. Originally it meant a person with Portuguese and Amerindian ancestry only. However, with the importation of African slaves, the word Pardo was used to describe someone with European, Amerindian, and African ancestry. Later with more interracial mixing in Brazil the words Pardo and Mestiço became blurred and is used interchangeably. When the Portuguese colonists settled and mixed in with Africans in Africa and Asians in Asia, the word Mestiço came to mean someone that has a mixed background.
Portuguese-Speaking South America
Mestiço – Brazil
In Brazil, the word mestiço is used to describe individuals born from any mixture of different ethnicities. Mainly these individuals usually have a blend in African, Native American, and European Caucasian. there are specific groups like - European/Portuguese Portuguese and Native American parents are commonly known as caboclo or, more commonly in the past, mameluco. Individuals of European and African ancestry are described as mulato. Cafuzos (known as zambo in the English language) are the production of Native American and African ancestors. if someone has a mix of all three they are known as "pardo". Brazil celebrates The Mixed Race Day(June 27 is an official date in States of Amazonas) to celebrate racial unity in the nation, Paraíba and Roraima.
Mestiço – Angola
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. However, since the over 500 year Portuguese presence in the country, the ethnic group has 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.
Mestiço – Guinea-Bissau
1% of the population is of mixed African Native and Portuguese descent.
Mestiço – Mozambique
A minority population of Mozambicans of mixed Bantu and Portuguese heritage.
Mestiço – 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").
Mestiços – Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, the names Mestiços (Portuguese for "Mixed People") or Casados ("Married") were applied to people of mixed Portuguese and Sri Lankan (Sinhalese and Tamil) descent, starting in the 16th century.
French-Speaking North America
Métis – Canada
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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 not recognized as a First Nation by the Canadian government and do not receive the 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.
English-speaking North America
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".
- Luk khrueng
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