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The term Creole is used with different meanings in different contexts, which can generate confusion. Generally it refers to a people or culture that is distinctive or local to a region, but with various additional shades of meaning. Such groups often speak a creole language, a hybrid language containing elements of at least two languages.

Table of contents
1 Latin American Creole
2 New Orleans and Louisiana Creole
3 Alaska Creole
4 Portuguese Creole

Latin American Creole

Generally refers to people of pure Spanish or Portuguese descent born in the New World. The Spanish language word for Creole is "criollo".

Throughout the colonial history of Latin America, the Spanish caste system made distinction between "criollos" and the higher-ranking and governing "peninsulares", despite both being of pure Spanish ancestry, the former born in America and the latter born in Europe (Spain being located on the Iberian Peninsula, hence the designation "peninsular").

This formed a discontented criollo underclass that, together with the support of the other decreasing-in-rank underclasses — mestizo, mulatto, amerindian, zambo and ultimately black slaves — impelled the Mexican War of Independence (1810) and the South American Wars of Independence (1810-1825) against Spain, culminating in the establishment of republics throughout the former Spanish Empire.

New Orleans and Louisiana Creole

In this context the word refers to people of any race or mixture thereof who are descended from French or Spanish families in Louisiana before it became part of the USA in 1803, or to the culture and cuisine typical of these people. Some writers from other parts of the USA have mistakenly assumed the term to refer only to people of mixed racial decent, but this is not the traditional Louisiana usage. In fact the traditional usage excluded African lineage. However, it is now accepted that Creole is a broad ethnic group of people of all races who share a French or Spanish background.

Alaska Creole

People of mixed Native American (esp. Alaskan) and European ancestry.

Portuguese Creole

People of mixed Portuguese and native ancestry that Portuguese had contact since the 15th century, with a mixed language.

see: Portuguese Creole language

People of mixed Portuguese and African ancestry. People of mixed Portuguese and Asian ancestry. People of mixed Portuguese and native ancestry that Portuguese had contact with since the 15th century, without a mixed language are known as "mulatos" (but the name can be extended to others).