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mestizo (māstēˈsō) [key] [Span., = mixture], person of mixed race; particularly, in Mexico and Central and South America, a person of European (Spanish or Portuguese) and indigenous descent. The mestizos constitute a large part of the population in several Latin American countries; they are in various places also called by other names, e.g., ladinos in Guatemala, caboclos in Brazil. The word is primarily applied to a mixture of racial strains, but it has acquired social and cultural connotations; it may be applied to pure-blooded indigenous people who adopt European dress and customs. All persons of mixed race are called mestizos in the Philippines.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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