racial composition varies from country to country and diaspora community to diaspora community: many have a predominance of mixed Amerindian and European descent or
mestizo, population; in others,
Amerindians are a majority; some are mostly inhabited by people of
European ancestry; others are primarily
mulatto. The largest single group are
white Latin Americans. Together with the people of part European ancestry, they combine for almost the totality of the population.
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
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-Amerindian, or
mestizo, population; in others,
Amerindian are a majority; some are dominated by inhabitants of
European ancestry; and some countries' populations are primarily
zambo (mixed black and Amerindian) minorities are also identified regularly.
White Latin Americans are the largest single group, accounting for more than one-third of the population.
Asians. People of Asian descent number several million in Latin America. The majority of Asian descendants in the country are either of West Asian (such as Lebanese or Syrian) or East Asian (like Chinese or Japanese) descent. The first Asians to settle in the region were
Filipino, as a result of Spain's trade involving Asia and the Americas. The
Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics states that the country's largest Asian communities are from West Asia and East Asia. It is estimated that 7 to 10 million Brazilians are of Lebanese descent. Around 2 million Brazilians self-identify as being "Yellow" (amarela or of East Asian descent) according to the 2010 census. The country is home to 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. Ethnic Koreans also number tens of thousands of individuals in Argentina and Mexico. The 2017 census stated that under 40,000 Peruvians self-identified as having Chinese or Japanese ancestry. Though other estimates claim as much as 1.47 million people of East Asian descent reside in the country. Lebanese and Syrian descendants have also formed notable communities in countries like Mexico and Argentina. The
Martiniquais population includes a mixed African, European and Amerindian descent, and an East Indian (Asian Indian) population is also present in
Guadeloupe, an estimated 14% of the population is of East Asian descent.
Blacks. Millions of African slaves were brought to Latin America from the 16th century onward, most 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). Significant populations are also found in
Colombia. Latin Americans of mixed black and white ancestry, called mulattoes, are far more numerous than blacks.
Amerindians. The indigenous population of Latin America, the Amerindians, 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), though, with the growth of the other groups, they now comprise a majority only in
Guatemala, the Amerindians are a large minority that comprises 41% 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 Amerindian minorities, in every case making up less than one-tenth of the respective country's population. In many countries, people of mixed Amerindian and European ancestry, known as
mestizos, make up the majority of the population.
Mestizos. Intermixing between Europeans and Amerindians 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 comprise 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 Dominican Republic, and are also numerous in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. Smaller populations of mulattoes are found in other Latin American countries.
Zambos: Intermixing between blacks and Amerindians was especially prevalent in
Brazil, often due to slaves 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, and they are also known as
cafuzos in Brazil.
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
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
Nicaragua, Spanish is the official language, but, on the country's Caribbean coast
English and indigenous languages such as
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 that are officially recognized by the government as "national languages" along with Spanish.
In several nations, especially in the
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.
According to the 2005 Colombian census or DANE, about 3,331,107 Colombians currently live abroad. The number of Brazilians living overseas is estimated at about 2 million people. An estimated 1.5 to two million Salvadorians reside in the United States. At least 1.5 million Ecuadorians have gone abroad, mainly to the United States and Spain. Approximately 1.5 million Dominicans live abroad, mostly in the United States. More than 1.3 million Cubans live abroad, most of them in the United States. 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. An estimated 700,000 Bolivians were living in Argentina as of 2006 and another 33,000 in the United States. Central Americans living abroad in 2005 were 3,314,300, of which 1,128,701 were
Salvadorans, 685,713 were
Guatemalans, 683,520 were
Nicaraguans, 414,955 were
Hondurans, 215,240 were
Panamanians and 127,061 were
As of 2006,
Costa Rica and
Chile were the only two countries with global positive migration rates.
^Rangel, Carlos (1977). The Latin Americans: Their Love-Hate Relationship with the United States. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. pp. 3–5.
ISBN0-15-148795-2. Skidmore, Thomas E.; Peter H. Smith (2005). Modern Latin America (6 ed.). Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. pp.
^Lizcano Fernández, Francisco.
"Composición Étnica de las Tres Áreas Culturales del Continente Americano al Comienzo del Siglo XXI" [Ethnic Composition of the Three Cultural Areas of the American Continent at the Beginning of the 21st Century] (PDF). Convergencia. Revista de Ciencias Sociales (in Spanish). Toluca, México: Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México: 194–195. Archived from
the original(PDF) on 26 June 2013. En principio, se pueden distinguir dos grupos muy distintos al interior de esta etnia: el que procede de Asia occidental (sobre todo árabes cristianos llegados desde Siria y Líbano) y el que salió de Asia oriental (chinos y japoneses principalmente).