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Latin Americans (Spanish: latinoamericanos, Portuguese: latino-americanos, French: latino-américains) are the citizens of the Latin American countries and dependencies. Latin American countries are multi-ethnic, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds. As a result, some Latin Americans don't take their nationality as an ethnicity, but identify themselves with both their nationality and their ancestral origins.[2] Aside from the indigenous Amerindian (aka Native American) population, all Latin Americans or their ancestors immigrated within the past five centuries. Latin America has the largest diasporas of Spaniards, Portuguese, Black Africans, Italians, Lebanese and Japanese in the world.[3][4][5] The region also has large German (second largest after the United States),[6] French, Chinese and Jewish diasporas.

The specific ethnic and/or racial composition varies from country to country: many have a predominance of European-Amerindian, or Mestizo, population; in others, Amerindians are a majority; some are mostly inhabited by people of European ancestry; and others are primarily Mulatto.[7] Various Black, Asian, and Zambo (mixed Black and Amerindian) minorities are also identified in most countries.[7] White Latin Americans are the largest single group.[2] Together with the people of part-European ancestry they combine for approximately 80% of the population,[8] or even more.[2]

Latin Americans and their descendants can be found almost everywhere in the world, particularly in densely populated urban areas. The most important migratory destinations for Latin Americans are found in the United States, Spain, Canada, and Japan.


Main article: Latin America
File:Map-Latin America2.png

Latin America (Spanish: América Latina or Latinoamérica; Portuguese: América Latina; French: Amérique latine) is the region of the Americas where Romance languages (i.e., those derived from Latin—particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French—are primarily spoken.[9][10]

It includes more than 20 nations: Mexico in North America; Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama in Central America; Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, French Guyana, Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay in South America; Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean—in summary, Hispanic America, Brazil, and Haiti.

If we consider this definition strictly, we should consider Canada and in particular Quebec as part of Latin America. The reason behind this is that Canada has French as one of its official languages along with English, and in particular Quebec, which is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level. But this region is rarely considered so, since its history, distinctive culture and economy, and British-inspired political institutions are generally deemed too closely intertwined with the rest of Canada.[11]

Latin America, therefore, can be defined as all those parts of the Americas that were once part of the French, Spanish, or Portuguese Empires, except Quebec.[12]


Ethnic groupsEdit

Main article: Race and ethnicity in Latin America
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The population of Latin America comprises a variety of ancestries, ethnic groups, and races, making the region one of the most diverse in the world. The specific composition varies from country to country: many have a predominance of European-Native American, or Mestizo, population; in others, Native American are a majority; some are dominated by inhabitants of European ancestry; and some countries' populations are primarily Mulatto. Black, Asian, and Zambo (mixed Black and Native American) minorities are also identified regularly. White people are the largest single group, accounting for more than a third.[2][8]

  • Native American. The indigenous population of Latin America, the Native Americans, arrived during the Lithic stage. In post-Columbian times they experienced tremendous population decline, particularly in the early decades of colonization. They have since recovered in numbers, surpassing sixty million (by some estimates[8]), though with the growth of the other groups meanwhile, they now compose a majority only in Bolivia and Peru. In Guatemala, Native American are a large minority that comprises two-fifths of the population. Mexico's 21% (9.8% in the official 2005 census) is the next largest ratio, and one of the largest Amerindian population in the Americas in absolute numbers. Most of the remaining countries have Native American minorities, in every case making up less than one-tenth of the respective country's population. In many countries, people of mixed Native American and European ancestry make up the majority of the population (see Mestizo).
  • Asians. People of Asian descent number several million in Latin America. The first Asians to settle in the region were Filipino, as a result of Spain's trade involving Asia and the Americas. The majority of Asian Latin Americans are of Japanese or Chinese ancestry and reside mainly in Brazil and Peru; there is also a growing Chinese minority in Panama. Brazil is home to perhaps two million people of Asian descent, which includes the largest ethnic Japanese community outside Japan itself, estimated as high as 1.5 million, and circa 200,000 ethnic Chinese and 100,000 ethnic Koreans.[13][14] Ethnic Koreans also number tens of thousands of individuals in Argentina and Mexico.[15] Peru, with 1.47 million people of Asian descent,[16][17] has one of the largest Chinese communities in the world, with nearly one million Peruvians being of Chinese ancestry. There is a strong ethnic-Japanese presence in Peru, where a past president and a number of politicians are of Japanese descent. The Martiniquais population includes an African-White-Indian mixed population, and an East Indian (Asian Indian) population.[18] The Guadeloupean East Indian population is estimated at 14% of the population.
  • Blacks. Millions of African slaves were brought to Latin America from the 16th century onward, the majority of whom were sent to the Caribbean region and Brazil. Today, people identified as "Black" are most numerous in Brazil (more than 10 million) and in Haiti (more than 7 million).[19] Among the Hispanic nations and Brazil, Puerto Rico leads this category in relative numbers, with a 15% ratio. Significant populations are also found in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama, and Colombia. Latin Americans of mixed Black and White ancestry, called Mulattoes, are far more numerous than Blacks.
  • Mestizos. Intermixing between Europeans and Native Americans began early in the colonial period and was extensive. The resulting people, known as Mestizos, make up the majority of the population in half of the countries of Latin America. Additionally, Mestizos compose large minorities in nearly all the other mainland countries.
  • Mulattoes. Mulattoes are people of mixed European and African ancestry, mostly descended from Spanish or Portuguese settlers on one side and African slaves on the other, during the colonial period. Brazil is home to Latin America's largest mulatto population. Mulattoes form a majority in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean places which are the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and depending on source, Cuba as well, and are also numerous in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador. Smaller populations of mulattoes are found in other Latin American countries.[8]
  • Whites. Beginning in the late 15th century, large numbers[2] of Iberian colonists settled in what became Latin America (Portuguese in Brazil and Spaniards elsewhere in the region), and at present most white Latin Americans are of Spanish or Portuguese origin. Iberians brought the Spanish and Portuguese languages, the Catholic faith, and many Iberian traditions. Brazil, Argentina and Mexico contain the largest numbers of whites in Latin America in pure numbers.[2] Whites make up the majorities of Argentina, Costa Rica, and Uruguay, also, whites make up roughly half of Brazil and Chile's population as well.[2][20] Of the millions of immigrants since most of Latin America gained independence in the 1810s–1820s, Italians formed the largest group, and next were Spaniards and Portuguese.[21] Many others arrived, such as French, Germans, Greeks, Poles, Ukrainians, Russians, Estonians, Latvians, Jews, Irish and Welsh. Also included are Middle Easterners of Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian descent; Most of them are Christian.[22] Whites presently compose the largest racial group in Latin America (36% in the table herein), and, whether as White, Mestizo, or Mulatto, the vast majority of Latin Americans have white ancestry.[23]
  • Zambos: Intermixing between Africans and Native Americans was especially prevalent in Colombia and Brazil, often due to slaves's running away (becoming cimarrones: maroons) and being taken in by Amerindian villagers. In Spanish speaking nations, people of this mixed ancestry are known as Zambos[24] or (in Middle America), and Cafuzos in Brazil.
  • Multi-ethnic/Multi-racials: In addition to the foregoing groups, Latin America also has millions of multiracial peoples (Triracial/Quadracial) of mixed European, Middle Eastern, African, Native American (Indigenous), and Asian (Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Indian) ancestry. Most are found in Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Brazil, with a much smaller presence in other countries and parts of Mexico. In Brazil they are called Pardos. This intermixing inspired Mexican philosopher José Vasconcelos to publish an essay in 1925 titled "La Raza Cósmica"(The Cosmic Race). The essay expressed the ideology of a future "fifth race" in the Americas; an agglomeration of all the races in the world with no respect to color or number to erect a new civilization: Universópolis. Genetic studies have shown results of various degrees of admixture between various ethnic groups that has taken place throughout Latin America since the arrival of Spanish European explorers in 1492.
Ethnic distribution, in 2005[2] - Population estimates, as of 2010[25]
Country Population[25] Native American Whites Mestizos Mulattoes Blacks Zambos Asians
23x15px Argentina 40,134,425 1.0% 85.0% 11.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 2.9%
23x15px Bolivia 10,907,778 55.0% 15.0% 28.0% 2.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Flag of Brazil.svg Brazil 192,272,890 0.4% 47.7% 19.4% 19.1% 6.2% 0.0% 1.1% [26]
23x15px Chile 17,063,000 3.0% 53.0% 44.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
23x15px Colombia 49,250,935 1.8% 37.0% 49.0% 21.0% 3.9% 0.1% 0.0%
23x15px Costa Rica 4,253,897 0.8% 82.0% 15.0% 0.0% 0.0% 2.0% 0.2%
23x15px Cuba 11,236,444 0.0% 65.0% 0.0% 13.0%' 11.0% 0.0% 1.0%
23x15px Dominican Republic 8,562,541 0.0% 14.6% 0.0% 75.0% 7.7% 2.3% 0.4%
23x15px Ecuador 13,625,000 39.0% 9.9% 41.0% 5.0% 5.0% 0.0% 0.1%
23x15px El Salvador 6,134,000 1.0% 12.0% 86.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
23x15px Guatemala 13,276,517 39.8% 18.5% 41.9% 0.0% 0.0% 0.2% 0.8%
23x15px Honduras 7,810,848 7.7% 1.0% 85.6% 1.7% 0.0% 3.3% 0.7%
23x15px Mexico 112,322,757 14% 15% 70% 0.5% 0.0% 0.0% 0.5%
23x15px Nicaragua 5,891,199 5% 17% 69% 6% 3% 0.6% 0.2%
23x15px Panama 3,322,576 8.0% 10.0% 32.0% 27.0% 5.0% 14.0% 4.0%
23x15px Paraguay 6,349,000 1.5% 3.5% 90.5% 3.5% 0.0% 0.0% 0.5%
23x15px Peru 29,461,933 45.5% 12.0% 32.0% 9.7% 0.0% 0.0% 0.8%
23x15px Puerto Rico 3,967,179 0.0% 74.8% 0.0% 10.0% 15.0% 0.0% 0.2%
23x15px Uruguay 3,494,382 0.0% 88.0% 8.0% 4.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.2% [27]
23x15px Venezuela 31,775,371 2.7% 42.2% 42.9% 0.7% 2.8% 0.0% 2.2%
Total 561,183,291 9.2% 36.1% 30.3% 20.3% 3.2% 0.2% 0.7%

Note: Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States.

Ethnic groups according to self-identificationEdit

The Latinobarómetro surveys have asked respondents in 18 Latin American countries what race they considered themselves to belong to. The figures shown below are averages for 2007 through 2011.[28]

Country Mestizo White Mulatto Black Amerindian Asian Other DK/NR1
23x15px Argentina 15% 73% 1% 1% 1% 0% 3% 7%
23x15px Bolivia 40% 6% 1% 0% 47% 0% 1% 4%
Flag of Brazil.svg Brazil 18% 45% 15% 15% 2% 2% 0% 2%
23x15px Chile 26% 60% 0% 0% 7% 1% 1% 5%
23x15px Colombia 43% 29% 5% 7% 5% 0% 1% 9%
23x15px Costa Rica 16% 66% 9% 2% 3% 1% 1% 5%
23x15px Dominican Republic 28% 16% 23% 25% 5% 2% 0% 2%
23x15px Ecuador 78% 5% 3% 3% 7% 1% 0% 3%
23x15px El Salvador 62% 14% 3% 2% 5% 1% 2% 11%
23x15px Guatemala 29% 17% 2% 1% 44% 1% 2% 6%
23x15px Honduras 61% 9% 3% 3% 12% 2% 1% 10%
23x15px Mexico 60% 15% 2% 0% 15% 1% 3% 4%
23x15px Nicaragua 54% 19% 3% 4% 7% 1% 1% 11%
23x15px Panama 55% 15% 5% 11% 5% 4% 1% 4%
23x15px Paraguay 36% 35% 1% 1% 2% 0% 4% 20%
23x15px Peru 72% 12% 2% 1% 7% 0% 1% 5%
23x15px Uruguay 6% 80% 3% 2% 1% 0% 2% 6%
23x15px Venezuela 45% 33% 5% 7% 4% 1% 0% 5%
Weighted average2 34% 33% 8% 6% 11% 0% 2% 7%

1 Don't know/No response.
2 Weighted using 2011 population.


Spanish and Portuguese are the predominant languages of Latin America. Portuguese is spoken only in Brazil, the biggest and most populous country in the region. Spanish is the official language of most of the rest of the countries on the Latin American mainland, as well as in Puerto Rico (where it is co-official with English), Cuba and the Dominican Republic. French is spoken in some Caribbean islands, including Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Haiti, as well as in the overseas departments of French Guiana (South America). Dutch is the official language of some Caribbean islands and in Suriname on the continent; however, as Dutch is a Germanic language, these territories are not considered part of Latin America.

Native American languages are widely spoken in Peru, Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay, and to a lesser degree, in Mexico, Chile and Ecuador. In Latin American countries not named above, the population of speakers of indigenous languages is small or non-existent.

In Peru, Quechua is an official language, alongside Spanish and any other indigenous language in the areas where they predominate. In Ecuador, while holding no official status, the closely related Quichua is a recognized language of the indigenous people under the country's constitution; however, it is only spoken by a few groups in the country's highlands. In Bolivia, Aymara, Quechua and Guaraní hold official status alongside Spanish. Guarani is, along with Spanish, an official language of Paraguay, and is spoken by a majority of the population (who are, for the most part, bilingual), and it is co-official with Spanish in the Argentine province of Corrientes. In Nicaragua, Spanish is the official language, but on the country's Caribbean coast English and indigenous languages such as Miskito, Sumo, and Rama also hold official status. Colombia recognizes all indigenous languages spoken within its territory as official, though fewer than 1% of its population are native speakers of these. Nahuatl is one of the 62 native languages spoken by indigenous people in Mexico, which are officially recognized by the government as "national languages" along with Spanish.

Other European languages spoken in Latin America include: English, by some groups in Argentina, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Puerto Rico, as well as in nearby countries that may or may not be considered Latin American, like Belize and Guyana (English is used as a major foreign language in Latin American commerce and education); German, in southern Brazil, southern Chile, Argentina, portions of northern Venezuela, and Paraguay; Italian, in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela; Polish, Ukrainian and Russian in southern Brazil, and Welsh,[29][30][31][32][33][34] in southern Argentina. Hebrew and Yiddish are used by Jewish diasporas in Argentina and Brazil.

In several nations, especially in the Caribbean region, creole languages are spoken. The most widely spoken creole language in the Caribbean and Latin America in general is Haitian Creole, the predominant language of Haiti; it is derived primarily from French and certain West African tongues with Amerindian, English, Portuguese and Spanish influences as well. Creole languages of mainland Latin America, similarly, are derived from European languages and various African tongues.


Main article: Religion in Latin America

The vast majority of Latin Americans are Christians (90%),[35] mostly Roman Catholics.[36] About 71% of the Latin American population consider themselves Catholic.[37] Membership in Protestant denominations is increasing, particularly in Brazil, Guatemala, and Puerto Rico. Argentina hosts the largest communities of both Jews[38][39][40] and Muslims[41][42][43] in Latin America.


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Due to economic, social and security developments that are affecting the region in recent decades, a change has taken place from net immigration to net emigration. About 10 million Mexicans live in the United States.[44] 28.3 million Americans listed their ancestry as Mexican as of 2006.[45] According to the 2005 Colombian census or DANE, about 3,331,107 Colombians currently live abroad.[46] The number of Brazilians living overseas is estimated at about 2 million people.[47] An estimated 1.5 to two million Salvadorians reside in the United States.[48] At least 1.5 million Ecuadorians have gone abroad, mainly to the United States and Spain.[49] Approximately 1.5 million Dominicans live abroad, mostly in the US.[50] More than 1.3 million Cubans live abroad, most of them in the US.[51] It is estimated that over 800,000 Chileans live abroad, mainly in Argentina, Canada, United States and Spain. Other Chilean nationals may be located in countries like Costa Rica, Mexico and Sweden.[52] An estimated 700,000 Bolivians were living in Argentina as of 2006 and another 33,000 in the United States.[53] Central Americans living abroad in 2005 were 3,314,300,[54] of which 1,128,701 were Salvadorans,[55] 685,713 were Guatemalans,[56] 683,520 were Nicaraguans,[57] 414,955 were Hondurans,[58] 215,240 were Panamanians,[59] 127,061 were Costa Ricans[60] and 59,110 were Belizeans.

As of 2006, Costa Rica and Chile were the only two countries with global positive migration rates.[61]


Notable Latin AmericansEdit

Main article: List of Latin Americans

See alsoEdit


  1. Based on recent estimates, as of 2010. Sources by country: Argentina "Proyecciones provinciales de población por sexo y grupos de edad 2001–2015" (in Spanish) (pdf). Gustavo Pérez. INDEC. pp. 16. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2008-06-24. ; Australia Australian Bureau of Statistics 20680-Ancestry (full classification list) by Sex - Australia; Bolivia "Bolivia". World Gazetteer. Retrieved 2010-01-07. ; Brazil Brazil 2009 Estimate IGBE: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. Retrieved 2 January 2010; Canada 2006 census"Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada Highlight Tables, 2006 Census". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2008-05-10. ; Colombia "Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística". Retrieved 2017-05-28. ; Costa Rica "Costa Rica". CIA The World Factbook. ; Cuba Anuario Estadístico de Cuba 2008. Edición 2009, Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas, República de Cuba. Accessed on May 19, 2010; Dominican Republic "Presidencia de la República; Generalidades". Retrieved 2009-12-14. ; Ecuador Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. Retrieved 2009-03-12. ; El Salvador"UNdata El Salvador". UN. 2008. Retrieved 2010-07-04. ; Guatemala"Demographic Information 2010". INE. 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-23. ; Mexico "INEGI Datos oficiales censo de población 2010". INEGI. 2010-06-12. Archived from the original on 2011-01-08. Retrieved 2010-11-27. ; Paraguay Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. Retrieved 2009-03-12. ; Peru Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática (INEI) del PerúINEI. Retrieved on June 10, 2010; Portugal POPULAÇÃO ESTRANGEIRA EM TERRITÓRIO NACIONAL, SERVIÇO DE ESTRANGEIROS E FRONTEIRAS 2008; Spain INE, Revisión del Padrón municipal 2007. Datos a nivel nacional, comunidad autónoma y provincia. Template:Es; INE, Notas de Prensa 2008 Template:Es; Uruguay Central Intelligence Agency. "Uruguay". The World Factbook. Retrieved January 5, 2010. ; USA (Self-identified ethnicity rather than birthplace) "Detailed Hispanic Origin: 2007" (PDF). Pew Hispanic Center. Retrieved 2009-04-13. ; "United States - Selected Population Profile in the United States (Brazilian (360-364))". 2008 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. United States Census Bureau.;ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201PR:519;ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201T:519;ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201TPR:519&-qr_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201&-qr_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201PR&-qr_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201T&-qr_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201TPR&-ds_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_&-TABLE_NAMEX=&-ci_type=A&-redoLog=true&-charIterations=414&-geo_id=01000US&-geo_id=NBSP&-format=&-_lang=en. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
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  4. King, Russell (1978-01-01). "Report: The Italian Diaspora". Area 10 (5): 386–386. 
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  9. Colburn, Forrest D (2002). Latin America at the End of Politics. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09181-1Script error.,M1. 
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  11. Bethell, Leslie (ed.) (1984). The Cambridge History of Latin America. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. xiv. ISBN 978-0-521-23223-4Script error. 
  12. Rangel, Carlos (1977). The Latin Americans: Their Love-Hate Relationship with the United States. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. pp. 3–5. ISBN 0-15-148795-2Script error.  Skidmore, Thomas E.; Peter H. Smith (2005). Modern Latin America (6 ed.). Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 1–10. ISBN 0-19-517013-XScript error. 
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  46. [2]Script error
  47. Brasileiros no Exterior — Portal da Câmara dos Deputados Script error
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  61. United Nations Population Division

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