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People of South America

Majority of the South American population are Mestizos, a mixed Indian and European origins. Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Paraguay constitute considerable Indian population. In Chile, Argentina, and Southern part of Brazil, majority of the population are Europeans. Many Brazilians claim African heritage and Guianas are a mosaic of East Indians, Indonesians, Africans, Creoles and Chinese

 

South Americans are not a singular people, and the distinct cultures and histories of the immense Latin American region defy clear or facile definitions. It is impossible to assign a general physiognomic characterization to “Latin Americans.” The people are descendents of Native Americans, Europeans, Africans, and people of Middle Eastern and Asian origin. The distribution of these peoples and their descendents varies throughout the region and reflects a dynamic sociopolitical and economic exchange over a lengthy time period. The largest concentrations of Asians in Latin America are found in Peru (mostly descendents of Chinese workers who migrated in the nineteenth century) and Brazil (mostly Japanese in origin, who migrated to Brazil and settled primarily in the city of São Paulo in the first half of the twentieth century, particularly in the interwar years).

People of African descent are concentrated in the Northeast of Brazil (where they were forced to work as slaves during the sugar plantation boom of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), on the north coast of South America, the northern Pacific coast of South America (including the Colombian Chocó, the lowlands of Ecuador, and the northwestern region of Peru), and the Caribbean is Latin Americans are not a singular people, and the distinct cultures and histories of the immense Latin American region defy clear or facile definitions. It is impossible to assign a general physiognomic characterization to “Latin Americans.” The people are descendents of Native Americans, Europeans, Africans, and people of Middle Eastern and Asian origin. The distribution of these peoples and their descendents varies throughout the region and reflects a dynamic sociopolitical and economic exchange over a lengthy time period. The largest concentrations of Asians in Latin America are found in Peru (mostly descendents of Chinese workers who migrated in the nineteenth century) and Brazil (mostly Japanese in origin, who migrated to Brazil and settled primarily in the city of São Paulo in the first half of the twentieth century, particularly in the interwar years).

Latin America, it is important to note, is a remarkable melting pot—more so, perhaps, than the United States. Most Latin Americans, culturally and racially, fall somewhere “in between.” Categories that are normally assigned in the United States (black or white, for example) fail to capture the reality of Latin American mestizaje, or race-mixing, over time. The nature of contact and conquest, the number and influence of Native American communities, and the African presence all influence the contour of mestizaje in Latin America and make it impossible to draw exact definitions when discussing the Latin American people. Yet, though racially mixed over time and place, social (and racial) segregation continues to pose historic challenges to Latin American citizens and societies.

Portuguese is spoken by about 185 million residents of Brazil, while Spanish is the dominant language in the rest of Latin America. However, large percentages of the populations of Peru, Bolivia, and Guatemala speak Native American languages, including Quechua, Aymara, and Quiché. The official language of Paraguay is not Spanish but Guaraní.

 
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