Mexicans of European descent

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European Mexicans
Total population

(Mexico
Estimates ranges from 11 to 56 million[1][2][3][4]
9-47% of Mexican population[2]

United States
16,794,111[5]
5.4% of United States population
32.2% of Hispanic and Latino Americans)
Languages
Spanish,
Venetian (Chipilo Venetian),
Plautdietsch[6]
Religion
Christianity (predominantly Roman Catholic, with a minority of Protestants), Judaism
Related ethnic groups
Other White Latin Americans · Other White Hispanic · Spaniards · Italians · French · Germans[7]

a Mexican Americans

European Mexicans are Mexican citizens of complete or predominant European descent.[8] While the Mexican government periodically conducts racial censuses for "Indigenous Mexicans" and "Afro-Mexicans" it hasn't conducted a census for European Mexicans for nearly a century.[9] Estimates of this ethnic group as a segment of the country's population range from 9% and 20% according to The World Factbook[1] and Encyclopædia Britannica[2] to as high as 47%[10] according to the ENADIS 2010 (National Survey About Discrimination),[4] conducted by the CONAPRED (National Council to Prevent Discrimination) as a mean to address the problems of racism that Mexicans of mainly Indigenous or African ancestry suffer at hands of a society that favors light skinned, European looking Mexicans.[11] Said survey is the only time the Mexican government has conducted a recent nationwide census that referenced the Eurodescendant population of Mexico.
Independent field studies have been made in attempt to quantify the number of European Mexicans living in modern Mexico, using blond hair as reference to classify a Mexican as white, the Metropolitan Autonomous University of Mexico calculated the percentage of said ethnic group at 23%.[12] Another study made by the University College London in collaboration with Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History found that the frequencies of blond hair and light eyes in Mexicans are of 18.5% and 28.5% respectively.[13]

Europeans began arriving in Mexico during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire; and while during the colonial period most European immigration was Spanish, in the 19th and 20th centuries European and European-derived populations from North and South America did immigrate to the country. According to 20th and 21th century academics, large scale intermixing between the European immigrants and the native Indigenous peoples would produce a Mestizo group which would become the overwhelming majority of Mexico's population by the time of Independence.[8] However according to church registers from the colonial times, the majority (73%) of Spanish men married with Spanish women. Said registers also put in question other narratives held by contemporary academics, such as European migrants who arrived to Mexico being almost exclusively men or that "pure Spanish" people were all part of a small powerful elite, as there were menial workers and people in poverty who were of complete Spanish origin.[14]

Other ethnic group in Mexico, the Mestizos, is characterized by having people with varying amounts of European ancestry, with some showing a European genetic ancestry higher than 90%.[15] However, the criteria for defining what constitutes a Mestizo varies from study to study, and in Mexico a large number of white people have been historically classified as Mestizos because after the Mexican revolution the Mexican government begun defining ethnicity on cultural standards (ie. the language spoken) rather than racial ones.[16]

Distribution and estimates[edit]

While Mexico's government have conducted recent ethnic censuses asking a person if he/she identifies "fully" or "in part" with a given ancestry to calculate the percentage of Indigenous Mexicans and Afro-Mexicans who live in the country,[17] the Mexican government is yet to ask Mexicans if they consider themselves to be "European" or "part European" being nearly a century since the Mexican census included the option for a person to identify as "White". The modern research in regards to Mexicans of European descent focuses on phenotypical traits such as skin color and hair color rather than on asking the perception of ancestry.

Mexico’s northern and western regions have the highest percentages of European population, with the majority of the people not having native admixture or being of predominantly European ancestry, resembling in aspect that of northern Spaniards.[18] In the north and west of Mexico, the indigenous tribes were substantially smaller than those found in central and southern Mexico, and also much less organized, thus they remained isolated from the rest of the population or even in some cases were hostile towards Mexican colonists. The northeast region, in which the indigenous population was eliminated by early European settlers, became the region with the highest proportion of whites during the Spanish colonial period. However, recent immigrants from southern Mexico have been changing, to some degree, it's demographic trends.[2]

In 2010, the CONAPRED (Mexico's National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination) conducted the ENADIS 2010 (National Survey About Discrimination)[4] with the purpose of addressing the problems of racism that Mexicans of mainly Indigenous or African ancestry suffer at hands of a society that favors light skinned, European looking Mexicans.[11] In the press release of said report, the CONAPRED stated that 47% of Mexicans (54% of women and 40% of men) identified with the lightest skin colors used in the census questionary. The council makes the supposition that the high difference reported between males and females is due the "frequently racist publicity in media and due racial prejudices in Mexico's socitey which shuns dark skin in favor of light skin, thus making women think that white is beautiful", it is also stated that men do not suffer this problem and thus have no problem recognizing their real skin color.[10] Nonetheless, a subsequent question in the same survey contradicts said supposition, as it asks Mexicans to evaluate, from 0 to 10 how comfortable they are with their skin color, the average result was 9.4 out of ten.[19] Additionally, scientific research proving that human females tend to have lighter skin than their male counterparts exists.[20]

Besides the visual identification of skin color, the same survey included a question on which it asked Mexicans "what would they call their skin color" while the press report by the CONAPRED remarks that six out of ten people considered themselves to be "moreno" (brunette in English) and only one out of ten considered their skin to be "blanco" (white)[21] the actual questionary included as choices other words who are coloquially used to refer to white people in Mexico such as "Güero" (informal for white), "Claro" (clear), "Aperlado" (Pearly) and other words who may or not refer to a white person depending of the case, such as "Quemadito" (Burnt), "Bronceado" (Tanned), "Apiñonado" (Spiced), "Amarillo" (Yellow) and "Canela" (Cinnamon). Further complicating the situation, several words used specifically for brown skin also appear as choices such as "Café" (Brown), "Negro" (Black), "Chocolate" (translation unnecessary), "Oscuro" (Dark), "Prieto" (Very dark) and "Trigueño" (other word for brown).[22] The word "moreno" itself has a very wide definition in Mexico and has no specific racial connotations, being used equally to define light skinned people with dark hair as to define people of African ancestry.[23]

Independent field studies have been made in attemp to quantify the number of European Mexicans living in modern Mexico, using blond hair as reference to classify a Mexican as white, the Metropolitan Autonomous University of Mexico calculated the percentage of white Mexicans at 23%, the study explicitly states that red-haired people were not classified as white but as "other".[12] An study made by the University College London which included multiple Latin American countries and was made with collaboration of each countries' antrophology and genetics institutes reported that the frequency of blond hair and light eyes in Mexicans was of 18.5% and 28.5% respectively,[13] making Mexico the country with the second highest frequency of blond hair in the study. Despite this, the European ancestry estimated for Mexicans is also the second lowest of all countries included, the reason behind such discrepancy may lie in the fact that the samples used in Mexico's case were highly unproportional, as the northern and western regions of Mexico contain 45% of Mexico's population, but no more than 10% of the samples used in the study came from the states located in these regions. For the most part, the rest of the samples hailed from Mexico City and southern Mexican states.[24]

A study performed in hospitals of Mexico City reported that in average 51.8% of Mexican newborns presented the congenital skin birthmark known as the mongolian spot whilst it was absent in 48.2% of the analized babies.[25] The mongolian spot appears with a very high frequency (85-95%) in Asian, Native American and African children.[26] The skin lession reportedly almost always appears on South American[27] and Mexican children who are racially Mestizos[28] while having a very low frequency (5-10%) in Caucasian children.[29] According to the Mexican Social Security Institute (shortened as IMSS) nationwide, around half of Mexican babies have the mongolian spot.[30]

According to the 2010 US Census, 52.8% of Mexican Americans identified as being White[31]

Genetic research[edit]

Genetic research in the Mexican population is numerous and has yielded a myriad of different results, it is not rare that different genetic studies done in the same location vary greatly, clear examples of said variation are the city of Monterrey in the state of Nuevo León, which, depending of the study presents an average European ancestry ranging from 38%[32] to 78%,[33] and Mexico City, whose European admixture ranges from as little as 21%[34] to 70%,[35] reasons behind such variation may include the socioeconomic background of the analyzed samples[35] aswell as the criteria to recruit volunteers: some studies only analyze Mexicans who self-identify as Mestizos,[36] others may classify the entire Mexican population as "mestizo",[37] other studies may do both, such as the 2009 genetic study published by the INMEGEN (Mexico's National Institute of Genomic Medicine), which states that 93% of the Mexican population is Mestizo with the remaining population being Amerindian, however, for the aforementioned study the institute only recruited people who explicitly self-identified as mestizos.[38] Finally there are studies who avoid using any racial classification whatsoever, including in them any person that self-identifies as Mexican, this studies are the ones who usually report the highest European admixture for a given location.[39]
Regardless of the criterias used all the autosomal DNA studies made coincide on there being a significant genetic variation depending of the region analyzed, with southern Mexico having prevalent Amerindian and small but higher than average African genetic contributions, the central region of Mexico shows a balance between Amerindian and European components,[40] with the later gradually increasing as one travels northwards and westwards, where European ancestry becomes the majority of the genetic contribution[41] up until cities located in the Mexico-United States border, where studies suggest there is a significant resurgence of Amerindian and African admixture.[42]
To date, no genetic research focusing on Mexicans of complete or predominant European ancestry has been made.

A 2014 publication summarizing population genetics research in Mexico, including three nationwide surveys and several region-specific surveys, found that in the studies done to date, counting only studies that looked at the ancestry of both parents (autosomal ancestry): "Amerindian ancestry is most prevalent (51% to 56%) in the three general estimates, followed by European ancestry (40% to 45%); the African share represents only 2% to 5%. In Mexico City, the European contribution was estimated as 21% to 32% in six of the seven reports, with the anomalous value of 57% obtained in a single sample of 19 subjects. European ancestry is most prevalent in the north (Chihuahua, 50%; Sonora, 62%; Nuevo León, 55%), but in a recent sample from Nuevo León and elsewhere in the country, Amerindian ancestry is dominant."[43]

A 2006 nationwide autosomal study, the first ever conducted by Mexico's National Institute of Genomic Medicine (INMEGEN), which included the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Yucatan, Zacatecas and Sonora reported that self-identified Mestizo Mexicans are 58.96% European, 35.05% "Asian" (primarily Amerindian), and 5.03% Other.[36]

An autosomal ancestry study performed on Mexico city reported that the European ancestry of Mexicans was 52% with the rest being Amerindian and a small African contribution, additionally maternal ancestry was analyzed, with 47% being of European origin. The only criteria for sample selection was that the volunteers self-identified as Mexicans.[39]

Establishment of Europeans in Mexico[edit]

Portrait of the family Fagoga Arozqueta. An upper class colonial Mexican family of Spanish ancestry (referred to as Criollos) in Mexico City, New Spain, ca. 1730.

The presence of Europeans in what is nowadays known as Mexico dates back to the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in the early 16th century[44][45] by Hernán Cortés, his troops and a number of indigenous city states who were tributaries and rivals of the Aztecs, such as the Totonacs, the Tlaxcaltecas and Texcocans among others. There are stories about Moctezuma taking Cortés to be the return of the God Quetzalcoatl due to his light skin and light-colored hair and eyes, which had never been seen before by the people of Mesoamerica. However, this has been disputed. After years of war the coalition led by Cortés finally managed to conquer the Aztec Empire which would result on the foundation of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and while this new state granted a series of privileges to the members of the allied indigenous tribes such as nobiliary titles and swathes of land, the Spanish held the most political and economic power.[46][44][47] The small number of Spaniards who inhabited the new kingdom would soon be complemented by a steady migration flow of Spanish people,[47] as it was the interest of the Spanish crown to hispanicize and christianize the region given that Indigenous peoples and their customs were considered uncivilized, thus the Spanish language and culture were imposed and indigenous ones suppressed.[44][48]

El Hacendero y su Mayordomo (The Hacendero and his Butler). Painting by Carl Nebel, c. 1836

The Mexican experience mirrors much of that of the rest of Latin America, as attitudes towards race, including identification, were set by the conquistadors and Spanish who came soon after.[47] Through the colonial period, the Spanish and their descendants, called "criollos" remained outnumbered by the indigenous and "mestizos" or those of mixed Spanish and indigenous parents[44][48] (albeit a person of 7/8 Spanish ancestry and 1/8 or less indigenous ancestry could be considered to be "criollo").[49] To keep power, the Spanish enforced a hierarchical class system in New Spain's society, with those born in Spain (known as Peninsulares) being the most privileged, followed by criollos, then Mestizos, then the indigenous and finally the Aficans. Nonetheless the system was not completely rigid and elements such as social class, social relations and who a person descended from did figure into it. However, the notion of "Spanishness" would remain at the top and "Indianness" would be at the bottom, with those mixed being somewhere in the middle. This idea remained officially in force through the rest of the colonial period.[44]

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, pioneer of the Mexican War of Independence, was like most of the independence leaders, of full Spanish ancestry.
Agustín de Iturbide, achiever of the Independence of Mexico, designer of the Mexican flag and emperor of México, was of Spanish/criollo origin.

Criollo resentment to the privileges afforded to the Peninsulares was the main reason behind the Mexican War of Independence. When the war ended in 1821, the new Mexican government expelled the peninsulares (approximatelly 10,000 - 20,000 people) in the 1820s and 1830s. However, Independence did not do away with economic and social privilege based on race as the Criollos took over those of Spanish birth. A division between "Spanish" and "indigenous" remained despite a majority mestizo or mixed-race population. However, biological features were often not enough to distinguish between the two in many cases and some mixing occurred even in the upper classes. The main distinction between criollos and mestizos became money and social class and less about biological differences. The Criollos distinguished themselves from the rest of society as the guardians of Spanish culture as well as the Catholic religion.[50] This is one reason why many of the political struggles of the latter 19th and early 20th centuries would be between these elite and the majority mestizos.[48]

According to Mexico's first ever racial census published in 1793, the Eurodescendant population was between 18%-22% of the population (with Mestizos being 21%-25% and Amerindians being 51%-61%)[51] but by 1921, when the second nationwide census that considered a person's race took place, only 9% of the population self identified as being of European descent, with 59% being Mestizo and 29% being Amerindian.[8] While for a long time the 1921 census' results were took as fact, with international publications such as The World Factbook and Encyclopædia Britannica using them as a reference to estimate Mexico's racial composition up to this day,[1][2] in recent time Mexican academics have subjected them to scrutiny, claiming that such a dreastic alteration on demographic trends is not possible and cite, among other statistics the relatively low frequency of marriages between people of different continental ancestries.[52] The authors claim that the Mexican society went through a "more cultural than biological mestizaje process" sponsored by the state which resulted on the inflation of the percentage of the Mestizo Mexican group at the expense of the identity of other races. It is important to note that the Mexican academics who question the census numbers are doing so primarily on behalf of Indigenous peoples, who they claim have been forcefully classified as Mestizos but state or suggest nonetheless, that the same thing has happened to European Mexicans.[53]

In today's society[edit]

Historically, racial and ethnic classification has been closely related with Mexico's society, however since the end of the Mexican Revolution, the official identity promoted by the government has been the Mestizo one (a mix of European and indigenous culture and heritage).[8] Installed with the original intent of eliminate divisions and create a unified identity that would allow Mexico to modernize and integrate into the international community,[45] the Mestizo identity hasn't been able to achieve it's goal, as European characteristics are still preferred in Mexican society to this day, the reason for this is speculated to be the identity's own internal contradictions,[8] as it includes in the same theorical race people who, on daily interactions, do not consider each other to be of the same race and have little in common biologicaly,[54] with some of them being entirely Indigenous, others entirely European and including also Africans and Asians.[16] Today, there is no definitive census that quantifies Mexico's white population, with estimations from different publications varying greatly, ranging from just 9% of the total[1][55] to 47%,[56][4] with this figure being based on phenotypical traits instead of self-identification of ancestry.

The lack of a clear defining line between white and mixed race Mexicans has made the concept of race relatively fluid, with descent being more of a determining factor than biological traits.[8][45] Even though there is large variation in phenotypes among Mexicans, European looks are still strongly preferred in Mexican society, with lighter skin receiving more positive attention as it is associated with higher social class, power, money and modernity.[45][47] In contrast, Indigenous ancestry is often associated with having an inferior social class aswell as lower levels of education.[8][44] These distinctions are strongest in Mexico City, where the most powerful of the country's elite are located.[45]

Emilio Azcárraga is the owner of Televisa and one of the richest people in Latin America.[57]

Even though the Mexican government hasn't used racial terms related to European or white people officially for almost a century, the concept of "white people" (known as güeros or blancos in Mexican Spanish) still exists [58] and is present on everyday's Mexican culture: different idioms of race are used in Mexico's society that serve as mediating terms between racial groups. It's not strange to see street vendors calling a potential costumer "Güero" or "güerito", sometimes even when the person is not light-skinned. In this instance it is used to initiate a kind of familiarity, but in cases where social/racial tensions are relatively high, it can have the opposite effect.[45]

This widespread preference that Mexicans, even those who are of predominant indigenous ancestry show to European cultures and values over Indigenous ones has come to be known as malinchismo which means to identify or favor a North American or European culture over the native one. It derives from La Malinche, the native interpreter who allied with Hernán Cortés during the Conquest. The story is still an important social imagery for Mexicans. Examples of practices considered as malinchismo in modern Mexico include Mexican parents choosing English given names for their kids, due the desire to be associated with the United States.[44]

European immigration to Mexico[edit]

A photo of Italian immigrants in Monterrey in 1905

Mexicans of European descent are strongly associated with the history of the Spanish in the country as Mexico has not had the history of mass immigration that other New World countries such as the United States, Brazil and Argentina have had.[45] The criollos began as the descendants of the conquistadors, which was the supplemented by further immigration from Spain in the colonial era and then from various parts of Europe and European descended peoples from other places in the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century. (The term "criollo" to refer to very light-skinned people remained until the 20th century.)[47] After Independence, the Criollos took over politics and economic areas formerly banned to them such as mining. They have remained dominant since, especially in Mexico City.[45][48] The expulsion of the Spanish between 1826 and 1833 kept the European ethnicity from growing as a percentage;[48] however, this expulsion did not lead to any permanent ban on European immigrants, even from Spain.[45]

Enrique Creel was a businessman and politician.

Immigration to Mexico in the 19th and 20th century mostly came from Europe and other countries with European descended populations such as Argentina and the United States. However, at its height, the total immigrant population in Mexico never exceeded twenty percent.[50] One reason for this was that Mexico lacked large expansions of cultivable land on its mountainous terrain, and what existed was firmly in the hands of the criollo elite. Another was that European immigration after the Mexican War of Independence was both welcomed and feared, a combination of xenophilia and xenophobia, especially to Europeans existing to this day.[48][50]

Girls from Zapopan, in the state of Jalisco. Fair-skinned Mexicans are colloquially known as 'güeros' (fem. güeras).

The xenophilia toward European and European derived immigrants comes from the country’s association of civilization with European characteristics. After Independence, Liberals among Mexico’s elite blamed the country’s indigenous heritage for its inability to keep up with the economic development of the rest of the world. However, embracing only Mexico’s European heritage was not possible. This led to an effort to encourage European immigrants.[45] One of these efforts was the dispossession of large tracts of land from the Catholic Church with the aim of selling them to immigrants and others who would develop them. However, this did not have the desired effect mostly because of political instability. The Porfirio Díaz regime of the decades before the Mexican Revolution tried again, and expressly desired European immigration to promote modernization, instill Protestant work ethics and buttress what remained of Mexico’s North from further U.S. expansionism. Díaz also expressed a desire to "whiten" Mexico’s heavily racially mixed population, although this had more to do with culture than with biological traits. However, the Díaz regime had more success luring investors than permanent residents, even in rural areas despite government programs. No more than forty foreign farming colonies were ever formed during this time and of these only a few Italian and German ones survived.[50]

From the 19th to the early 20th century, most European foreigners in Mexico were in urban areas, especially Mexico City, living in enclaves and involved in business. These European immigrants would quickly adapt to the Mexican attitude that "whiter was better" and keep themselves separate from the host country. This and their status as foreigners offered them considerable social and economic advantages, blunting any inclination to assimilate. There was little incentive to integrate with the general Mexican population and when they did, it was limited to the criollo upper class. For this reason, one can find non–Spanish surnames among Mexico’s elite, especially in Mexico City, to this day.[48][50]

However, even when generalized mixing did occur, such as with the Cornish miners in Hidalgo state around Pachuca and Real de Monte, their cultural influence remains strong. In these areas, English style houses can be found, the signature dish is the "paste" a variation of the Cornish pasty[59] and they ended up introducing football (soccer) to Mexico.[60] In the early 20th century, a group of about 100 Russian immigrants, mostly Pryguny and some Molokane and Cossacks came to live in area near Ensenada, Baja California. The main colony is in the Valle de Guadalupe and locally known as the Colonia Rusa near the town of Francisco Zarco. Other smaller colonies include San Antonio, Mision del Orno and Punta Banda. There are an estimated 1,000 descendants of these immigrants in Mexico, nearly all of whom have intermarried. The original settlements are now under the preservation of the Mexican government and have become tourist attractions.[61]

Mexican musician Lynda Thomas is of Welsh descent[citation needed]

By the end of the Porfirian era, Americans, British, French, Germans and Spanish were the most conspicuous Europeans in Mexico but they were limited to Mexico City in enclaves, failing to produce the "whitening" effect desired. This history would mean that Mexico would never become a nation of immigrants, but rather one where a few well-connected newcomers could make a great impact. Despite Diaz’s early efforts at attracting foreign immigration, he reversed course near the end of his government, nationalizing industries dominated by foreigners such as trains. Foreigners were blamed for much of the country’s economic problems leading to restriction. This would cause many foreigners to leave.[50]

In January 1883, the Government signed a law to promote the Irish, German and French immigration to Mexico.[62] Up to 1914, 10 000 French settled in Mexico,[63] and other 100,000 Europeans.[63]

Ukrainian–born Mexican actress Ana Layevska has lived in Mexico since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Mexican singer Paulina Rubio is of Spanish descent.[64]

One reason for the Mexico’s xenophobia was that Europeans and Americans often quickly dominated various industries and commerce in Mexico. By the mid-19th century, there were only 30,000 to 40,000 Caucasian immigrants compared to an overall population of over eight million, but their impact was strongly felt. For example, the Spanish and French came to dominate the textile industry and various areas of commerce, pioneering the industrialization of the country.[48][50] Various Europeans and Americans also dominated mining, oil and cash crop agriculture. Many of these immigrants were not really immigrants at all, but rather "trade conquistadors" who remained in Mexico only long enough to make their fortunes to return to their home countries to retire.[50] Large numbers of Americans in Texas, would eventually lead to the secession of that territory.[48] These two experiences would strongly affect Mexico’s immigration policy to this day, even though Mexico’s total foreign population at its height in the 1930s never exceeded one percent of the total.[50]

Saul Alvarez Mexican professional boxer

Legal vestiges of attempts to "whiten" the population ended with the 1947 "Ley General de Población" along with the blurring of the lines between most of Mexico immigrant colonies and the general population. This blurring was hastened by the rise of a Mexican middle class, who enrolled their children in schools for foreigners and foreign organizations such as the German Club having a majority of Mexican members. However, this assimilation still has been mostly limited to Mexico’s lighter skinned peoples. Mass culture promoted the Spanish language and most other European languages have declined and almost disappeared. Restrictive immigration policies since the 1970s have further pushed the assimilation process. Despite all of the aforementioned pressure, as of 2013 Mexico is the country with most international immigrants in the world.[65]

Since 2000, Mexico's economic growth has increased international migration to the country, including people of European descent who leave their countries (particularly France and Spain) in the search of better work opportunities. People from the United States have moved too, now making up more than three-quarters of Mexico's roughly one million documented foreigners, up from around two-thirds in 2000. Nowadays, more people originally from United States have been added to the population of Mexico than Mexicans have been added to the population of the United States, according to government data in both nations.[66]

Example of ethnic European groups in Mexico[edit]

One of the few Porfirian era European settlements to survive to this day is centered on the small town of Chipilo in the state of Puebla. They are the descendants of about 500 Italian immigrants which came over in the 1880s, keeping their Venetian-derived dialect and distinct ethnic identity, even though many have intermarried with other Mexicans. Many still farm and raise livestock but economic changes have pushed many into industry.[67]

A Mennonite girl in Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua

During the Mexican Revolution, Álvaro Obregón invited a group of German-speaking Mennonites in Canada to resettle in Chihuahua state. By the late 1920s, almost 10,000 had arrived from both Canada and Europe.[50][68] Today, Mexico accounts for about 42% of all Mennonites in Latin America.[47] Mennonites in the country stand out because of their light skin, hair and eyes. They are a largely insular community that speaks Plautdietsch and wear traditional clothing. They own their own businesses in various communities in Chihuahua, and account for about half of the state’s farm economy, standing out in cheese production.[68]

Immigration was restricted by governments after Diaz’s but never stopped entirely during the 20th century. Between 1937 and 1948, more than 18,000 Spanish Republicans arrived as refugees from the Francisco Franco dictatorship. Their reception by the Mexican criollo elite was mixed but they manage to experience success as most of these newcomers were educated as scholars and artists. This group founded the Colegio de Mexico, one of the country’s top academic institutions. Another, smaller group from this time period were Jewish immigrants fleeing Hitler. Despite attempts to assimilate these immigrant groups, especially the country’s already existing German population during World War II, they remain mostly separate to this day.[50]

Due to the 2008 Financial Crisis and the resulting economic decline and high unemployment in Spain, many Spaniards have been emigrating to Mexico to seek new opportunities.[69] For example, during the last quarter of 2012, a number of 7,630 work permits were granted to Spaniards.[70]

Sixty-seven percent of Latin America’s English-speaking population lives in Mexico.[47] Most of these are American nationals, with in influx of people from the U.S. coming to live in Mexico since the 1930s, becoming the largest group of foreigners in the country since then. However, most Americans in Mexico are not immigrants in the traditional sense, as they are there living as retirees or otherwise do not consider themselves permanent residents.[50][71]

Population studies[edit]

Historically, population studies and censuses have never been up to the standards that a population as diverse and numerous such as Mexico's require: the first racial census was made in 1793, being also Mexico's (then known as New Spain) first ever nationwide population census, of it, only part of the original datasets survive, thus most of what it's known of it comes from essays made by researchers who back in the day used the census' findings as reference for their own works. More than a century would pass until the Mexican government conducted a new racial census in 1921 (some sources assert that the census of 1895 included a comprehensive racial classification,[8] however according to the historic archives of Mexico's National Institute of Statistcs that was not the case).[72] While the 1921 census was the last time the Mexican government conducted a census that included a comprehensive racial classification, in recent time it has conducted nationwide surveys to quantify most of the ethnic groups who inhabit the country aswell as the social dynamics and unequalities between them.

1793 census[edit]

New Spain in 1819 with the boundaries established at the Adams-Onís Treaty.

Also known as the "Revillagigedo census" due it's creation being ordered by the Count of the same name, this census was Mexico's (then known as the Viceroyalty of New Spain) first ever nationwide population census. Most of it's original datasets have reportedly been lost, thus most of what is known about it nowadays comes from essays and field investigations made by academics who had access to the census data and used it as reference for their works such as Prussian geographer Alexander von Humboldt. Each author gives different estimations for each racial group in the country although they don't vary much, with Europeans ranging from 18% to 22% of New Spain's population, Mestizos ranging from 21% to 25%, Indians ranging from 51% to 61% and Africans being between 6,000 and 10,000, The estimations given for the total population range from 3,799,561 to 6,122,354. It is concluded then, that across nearly three centuries of colonization, the population growth trends of whites and mestizos were even, while the total percentage of the indigenous population decreased at a rate of 13%-17% per century. The authors assert that rather than whites and mestizos having higher birthrates, the reason for the indigenous population's numbers decreasing lies on them suffering of higher mortality rates, due living in remote locations rather than on cities and towns founded by the Spanish colonists or being at war with them. It's also because these reasons that the number of Indigenous Mexicans presents the greater variation range between publications, as in cases their numbers in a given location were estimated rather than counted, leading to possible overestimations in some provinces and possible underestimations in others.[73]

Intendecy/Territory European Population (%) Indigenous Population (%) Mestizo Population (%)
Mexico 16.9% 66.1% 16.7%
Puebla 10.1% 74.3% 15.3%
Oaxaca 06.3% 88.2% 05.2%
Guanajuato 25.8% 44.0% 29.9%
San Luis Potosi 13.0% 51.2% 35.7%
Zacatecas 15.8% 29.0% 55.1%
Durango 20.2% 36.0% 43.5%
Sonora 28.5% 44.9% 26.4%
Yucatan 14.8% 72.6% 12.3%
Guadalajara 31.7% 33.3% 34.7%
Veracruz 10.4% 74.0% 15.2%
Villadolid 27.6% 42.5% 29.6%
Nuevo Mexico ~ 30.8% 69.0%
Vieja California ~ 51.7% 47.9%
Nueva California ~ 89.9% 09.8%
Coahuila 30.9% 28.9% 40.0%
Nuevo Leon 62.6% 05.5% 31.6%
Nuevo Santander 25.8% 23.3% 50.8%
Texas 39.7% 27.3% 32.4%
Tlaxcala 13.6% 72.4% 13.8%

~Europeans are included within the Mestizo category.

Regardless of the possible imprecisions related to the counting of Indigenous peoples living outside of the colonized areas, the effort that New Spain's authorities put on considering them as subjects is worth mentioning, as censuses made by other colonial or post-colonial countries did not consider American Indians to be citizens/subjects, as exmaple the censuses made by the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata would only count the inhabitants of the colonized settlements.[74] Other example would be the censuses made by the United States, that did not include Indigenous peoples living among the general population until 1860, and indigenous peoples as a whole until 1900.[75]

1921 census[edit]

Made right after the consumation of the Mexican revolution, this census constituted the last time the Mexican Government conducted a comprehensive census on which there was the option for a Mexican to identify with a European/white heritage. The nationwide results and The breakdow by states was the following (foreigners and people who answered "other" not included):[76]

Federative Units Mestizo Population (%) Amerindian Population (%) White Population (%)
Aguascalientes 66.12% 16.70% 16.77%
Baja California
(Distrito Norte)
72.50% 07.72% 00.35%
Baja California
(Distrito Sur)
59.61% 06.06% 33.40%
Campeche 41.45% 43.41% 14.17%
Coahuila 77.88% 11.38% 10.13%
Colima 68.54% 26.00% 04.50%
Chiapas 36.27% 47.64% 11.82%
Chihuahua 50.09% 12.76% 36.33%
Durango 89.85% 09.99% 00.01%
Guanajuato 96.33% 02.96% 00.54%
Guerrero 54.05% 43.84% 02.07%
Hidalgo 51.47% 39.49% 08.83%
Jalisco 75.83% 16.76% 07.31%
Mexico City 54.78% 18.75% 22.79%
State of Mexico 47.71% 42.13% 10.02%
Michoacan 70.95% 21.04% 06.94%
Morelos 61.24% 34.93% 03.59%
Nayarit 73.45% 20.38% 05.83%
Nuevo Leon 75.47% 05.14% 19.23%
Oaxaca 28.15% 69.17% 01.43%
Puebla 39.34% 54.73% 05.66%
Querétaro 80.15% 19.40% 00.30%
Quintana Roo 42.35% 20.59% 15.16%
San Luis Potosí 61.88% 30.60% 05.41%
Sinaloa 98.30% 00.93% 00.19%
Sonora 41.04% 14.00% 42.54%
Tabasco 53.67% 18.50% 27.56%
Tamaulipas 69.77% 13.89% 13.62%
Tlaxcala 42.44% 54.70% 02.53%
Veracruz 50.09% 36.60% 10.28%
Yucatán 33.83% 43.31% 21.85%
Zacatecas 86.10% 08.54% 05.26%
Mexico (country) 59.33% 29.16% 09.80%

When the 1921 census' results are compared with the results of Mexico's recent censuses[77] aswell as with modern genetic research,[78] high consistence is found in regards to the distribution of Indigenous Mexicans across the country, with sates located in south and south-eastern Mexico having both, the highest percentages of population that self-identifies as Indigenous and the highest percentages of Amerindian genetic ancestry. However this is not the case when it comes to European Mexicans, as there are instances on which states that have been shown to have a considerably high European ancestry per scientific research are reported to have very small white populations in the 1921 census, with the most extreme case being that of the state of Durango, where the aforementioned census asserts that only 0.01% of the state's population (33 persons) self-identified as "white" while modern scientific research shows that the population of Durango has similar genetic frequences to those found on European peoples (with the state's Indigenous population showing almost no foreign admixture either).[79] Various authors theorize that the reason for these inconsistences may lie in the Mestizo identity promoted by the Mexican government, which reportedly led to people who are not biologically Mestizos to identify as such.[80][81]

Present day[edit]

The following table is a compilation of (when possible) official nationwide surveys conducted by the Mexican government who have attemped to quantify different Mexican ethnic groups. Given that for the most part each ethnic group was estimated by different surveys, with different methodologies and years appart rather than on a single comprehensive racial census, some groups could overlap with others and be overestimated or underestimated.

Race or ethnicy Population (est.) Percentage (est.) Year
Indigenous 26,000,000 21.5% 2015[82]
Black 1,400,000 01.2% 2015[83]
White 56,000,000 47.0% 2010[84][4][11]
Foreigners residing in Mexico (any race) 1,010,000 <1.0% 2015[85]
East Asian 1,000,000 <1.0% 2010[86]
Middle Easterners 400,000 <1.0% 2010[87]
Jewish 68,000 <1.0% 2010[88]
Unclassified (most likely Mestizos) 37,300,000 30.0% -
Total 123,500,000 100% 2017[89]

Of all the ethnic groups that have been surveyed Mestizos are notably absent, which is likely due the label's fluid and subjetive definition, which complicates it's precise quantification. However it can be safely assumed that Mestizos make up at least the remaining 30% unassesed percentage of Mexico's population with possibilities of increasing if the methodologies of the extant surveys are considered. As example the 2015 intercensal survey considered as Indigenous Mexicans and Afro-Mexicans altogether individuals who self-identified as "part Indigenous" or "part African" thus, said people technically would be Mestizos. Similarly, White Mexicans were quantified based on physical traits/appearance, thus technically a Mestizo with a percentage of Indigenous ancestry that was low enough to not affect his/her primarily European phenotype was considered to be white. Finally the remaining ethnicies, for being of a rather low number or being faiths have more permissive classification criterias, therefore a Mestizo could claim to belong to one of them by practicing the faith, or by having an ancestor who belonged to said ethnicies.
Nonetheless, contemporary sociologists and historians agree that, given that the concept of "race" has a psychological foundation rather than a biological one and to society's eyes a Mestizo with a high percentage of European ancestry is considered "white" and a Mestizo with a high percentage of Indigenous ancestry is considered "indian", a person that identifies with a given ethnic group should be allowed to, even if biologically it doesn't completely belong to that group.[90]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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