is a Spanish
term that was used in the Spanish
and Portuguese Empire
in Latin America
to refer to Latin
people of mixed European
The term is specifically for those people of the particular racial
mixture of European
and American Indian
inhabit and comprise much of the population of Latin America
, however it is used, somewhat
incorrectly, in other parts of the world.
The word mestizo
originated from the Romance
, meaning mixed.
In the Portuguese
languages, the words caboclo
were also used in the Portuguese
and French Empires
individuals of mixed European and Native ancestry.
Spanish-speaking Latin America
casta system of Spanish America and
Spain, the term originally applied to the children
resulting from the union of one European and one Amerindian parent
or the children of two mestizo parents.
During this era, a
myriad of other terms including castizo
(three-quarters European and
one-quarter Amerindian), cuarterón de
, and cholo
(one-quarter European and three-quarters Amerindian), were in use
to denote other individuals of European-Amerindian ancestry in
ratios smaller or greater than the 50:50 of mestizos.
Mestizos form the majority of the population in most of Latin
America; however, it would be difficult to know with any reasonable
precision how extensive the mestizo population is, except through
genetic studies. Various censuses since colonial times have tracked
the race of inhabitants of the Spanish American countries, but
these statistics are only generally indicative of what could be
considered biological race, since they really captured the
" race of a
person. 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.
general, the countries believed to have a majority mestizo
population today are Mexico, with the
largest population , Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras,Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Venezuela. In Bolivia and Peru, mestizos
form the second largest group.
countries like Costa
Rica and Chile, sources
such as the CIA classify the population into a single "White and
mestizo" or "White and 'white-Amerindian'" group respectively,
leading to a combined figure of over 95% in each country, as whites
and mestizos are not tallied separately. In Argentina and Uruguay, the
official mestizo population form a small minority of 3% to 8% of
In Mexico, the degree of admixture varies with region, although
population mobility in recent decades has changed this somewhat.
Generally, the degree of indigenous Amerindian ancestry among
Mexican mestizos increases as one goes south, and conversely,
decreases the more one goes north. This pattern reflects both the
preferential trend of Spanish settlement (actual settlers, not
concentration of cities founded by Spaniards) in central and
northern regions during the colony and also the greater
concentration of Amerindians that inhabited the central to southern
A representation of a Mestizo, in a
Pintura de Castas
from Mexico during the Spanish colonial
The painting illustrates "A Spaniard and Amerindian, produce a
Noted mestizos migrating to Europe
, son of the Spanish
and of the Nahuatl
indigenous Mexican interpreter Malinche
, was the first mestizo to arrive in
Spain, though he did so against his will after being exiled in
punishment for leading a rebellion with his younger brother to form
a new government in Mexico.
The first mestizos of whom there is verified evidence of willingly
having set foot on European soil are the grandchildren of Moctezuma II
emperor of Mexico, whose royal descent the Spanish crown
acknowledged. Of this family, the most publicized
descendants are the Acosta family and the Spanish Count Miravalle,
in Andalucía, Spain, who in 2003 demanded that Mexico recommence
payment of the so called 'Moctezuma pensions' the government
cancelled in 1934.
alone of such pensions is said to be enough for every single one of
Moctezuma's modern descendants to live comfortable lives.
Peru also arrived 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. He lived in the town of Montilla, Andalucía, where he died in 1616.
from the early 1970s and throughout all of the 1980s, Europe saw
the arrival of thousands of Chileans, both whites and
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 and Colombia.
Brazil, the word
mestiço is used to describe individuals born from any
mixture of different ethnicities.
Individuals that fit the
specific case of having Portuguese
and Amerindian parents are commonly known as caboclo
or, more commonly in the past,
. Individuals of European
and African ancestry are described as mulato
(known as zambo
in the English language) are the production
of Amerindian and African ancestors.
In Canada, the Métis are regarded as an independent ethnic group.
This community of descent consists of individuals descended from
marriages of First Nation
, and Saulteaux
Europeans, usually French
, 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 people
since the early 18th century.
territory roughly includes the three Prairie Provinces (Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan), parts of Ontario, British
Columbia and the Northwest Territories, as well as parts of the northern United States (including North Dakota and Montana).
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.
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
combination of Gaelic, Cree, and Ojibwe. Bungee is now
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 Metis communities are not accepted by the Metis
National Council and are represented nationally by the "Congress of
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
enabled individual Métis to sue successfully for recognition of
their traditional rights such as rights to hunt and trap.
a court ruling in Ontario found that the Métis deserve the same rights as
other aboriginal communities in Canada.
The United States
States, the term "Multiracial" is used to indentify
individuals of mixed racial heritages.
" is the most common term for Native
Americans mixed with any other race. Thus, "mestizo" is used only
by a select few.
The old English language
mestizo is "Mestee
", a word originating from
the Middle French
term "Mestis", which
is translated to Métis in the modern French language. It was widely
used by people of mixed White and Native American ancestry before
the American Civil War
19th century. After the Civil War, the One-drop rule
started to include Black people,
and the word fell into disuse — except for members of the old
tri–racial ethnic groups such as Melungeons
, Chestnut Ridge
(or Mayles), and Redbones
Nearly half (48%) of the 35 million Hispanic and Latino Americans
counted in the Federal 2000
self-identified as "White", and another 3/7 (42%) as
"Other". Multiracials came in at 6%.There are many multiracial
people of different ethnicities living in the United States. An
explorer by the name of Jean
was perhaps the most notable person of
mixed ancestry in the region. His father, Toussaint Charbonneau
, was a French Canadian
interpreter, and his mother
was a Native American
guide of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Baptiste can be found depicted on the United States dollar coin
with his mother, Sacagawea. Prior to 1848 it was unclear where the
Canada-US border lay, and later still before it was enforced.
Metis lived in Montana and North
Other Non-specific Uses
Filipino mestizo is a term used in the Philippines to denote
Filipinos of mixed indigenous Filipino
(Austronesian/Malay/Malayo-Polynesian), European and/or Chinese
The official percentage of Filipinos of mixed ancestry, although
thought to be small, is still unknown and the Philippine government
does not honor any surveys or studies done by various institutions
since most of them are only considered "guestimates". Racial
intermixture occurred, on a small scale, during the Spanish
colonial era, as well as in the 20th century with Americans of all
races. Before and during these periods, significant Chinese
admixture has also been introduced into the Filipino population.
There is also a popiulation of Filipino mestizos in the Philippines
who have ancestries from various Middle Eastern countries.
most Filipinos were given Spanish surnames (see:Alphabetical Catalog of
Surnames) during their occupation by the Spanish crown via
City and Madrid, Eurasians of non-Spanish descent with Spanish
surnames may be mistaken as Filipino mestizos of such
Mestiços are known
collectively as Burghers and are the
descendents of mixed Sri
Lankan and Portuguese/Dutch/British colonists, Sri Lanka Indo-Portuguese
language and Dutch Creole are still spoken on the
Guam and Northern Mariana Islands
former Spanish colonies of Guam and
Mariana Islands, the term "Mestizo" 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" became the contemporary term used to
designate individuals of mixed indigenous and American or European
They currently form a small minority of the
- Wang S, Ray N, Rojas W, Parra MV, Bedoya G, et al. (2008)
Geographic Patterns of Genome Admixture in Latin American
Mestizos. PLoS Genet 4(3): e1000037.
- "Genetic Study Of Latin Americans Sheds Light On A
Troubled History" - Science Daily
- Duno Gottberg, Luis, Solventando las diferencias: la ideología
del mestizaje en Cuba. Madrid, Iberoamericana – Frankfurt am Main,