Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Mestizo (Port. Mestišo) is a term of Spanish origin describing peoples of mixed European and Amerindian racial descent. The feminine form is mestiza.

In colonial Latin America and Spain, the term originally referred to the children of one European and one Amerindian parent, but today refers to all people with a significant amount of both European and Amerindian ancestry in Latin America.

Mestizos officially make up the majority of the populations of Chile (90%), Colombia (58%), Ecuador (65%), El Salvador (94%), Honduras* (90%), Mexico* (60%), Nicaragua (69%), Panama* (70%), Paraguay (95%) and Venezuela (67%).

For other American countries where mestizos don't constitute a majority, they nonetheless represent a significant portion of their populations; Argentina (13%), Belize (44%), Bolivia (30%), Brazil (aprox. 12%), Uruguay (8%), Peru (37%). The possible exceptions for this would be Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Although some Mestizos and full-blooded American Indians, did once represent a portion of the population in the latter two countries, they were absorbed by the mulatto populations there.

Many Americans of Hispanic and/or Latino origin identify themselves as mestizos as well, particularly those who identify as Chicano.

Filipino Mestizo

In the Philippines, the term mestizo (Tagl. & Filp. mestiso) is freely used to refer to any individual of mixed racial descent, regardless of race combination or ratio, such as those of Malay/Chinese, Malay/Japanese, Malay/Spanish, et cetera, ancestry. The feminine form is mestisa.

Nowadays, the combined number of all types of mestisos constitute no more than 2% of the entire Filipino population. Of that 2%, less than half are of the Spanish variety. [See Demographics of the Philippines - Ethnic Groups]. Most of the mestizo population was decimated in the Philippine-American War.

Furthermore to its Filipino usage, the term is often regarded a synonym of "beauty", and is also employed to denote any unmixed Filipino of a lighter skin complexion, especially when used in it's vernacular form of "Tisoy", a backformation of [mes]TISOY.


(*) In Honduras and to some degree in Mexico, the mestizo population has absorbed some African ancestry, either in the form of Mulattos, Zambos, or directly via the African slaves who were taken there during the colonial era. Panama's mestizos have also absorbed some of the African strain present in that country.

See also