Inter-racial marriage

Interracial marriage occurs when two people of differing racial groups marry. This is often a form of exogamy (marrying outside of one's social group) and can be seen in the broader context of miscegenation (mixing of different racial groups in marriage, cohabitation, or sexual relations).

Legality of interracial marriage

In the Western world certain jurisdictions have had regulations banning or restricting interracial marriage in the past, including Germany during the Nazi period, South Africa under apartheid, and many states in the United States prior to a 1967 Supreme Court decision.


United States

Interracial marriage in the United States has been fully legal in all U.S. states since the 1967 Supreme Court decision that deemed anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, with many states choosing to legalize interracial marriage at much earlier dates. Anti-miscegenation laws have played a large role in defining racial identity and enforcing the racial hierarchy. The United States has many ethnic and racial groups, and interracial marriage is fairly common among most of them. Interracial marriages increased from 2% of married couples in 1970 to 7% in 2005[1][2] and 8.4% in 2010.[3]

Interracial marriages in the U.S. have climbed to 4.8 million (1 in 12 marriages) in 2010[3] as a steady flow of new Asian and Hispanic immigrants expands the pool of prospective spouses. Blacks are now substantially more likely than before to marry whites.[3] In 2010, 15% of new marriages were interracial.[3] In 2010, 25% of Asians, 25% of Hispanics, 17.1% of blacks, and 9.4% of whites married interracially.[3] Of the 275,500 new interracial marriages in 2010, 43% were white-Hispanic couples, 14.4% were white-Asian, 11.9% were white-black, and the remainder were other combinations.[4]

Although the anti-miscegenation laws have been revoked, the social stigma related to Black interracial marriages still exists in today’s society. Research by Tucker and Mitchell-Kerman from 1990 has shown that Blacks intermarry far less than any other non-White group[5] and in 2010, only 17.1% of Blacks married interracially, a rate far lower than the rates for Hispanics and Asians.[3] Black interracial marriages in particular engender problems associated with racist attitudes and perceived relational inappropriateness.[6] There is also a sharp gender imbalance to Black interracial marriages: In 2008, 22% of all black male newlyweds married interracially while only 9% of black female newlyweds married outside their race, making them the least likely of any race or gender to marry outside their race and the least likely to get married at all.[7]


The majority of the Hawaiian Chinese were Cantonese migrants from Guangdong with minority from Hakka. If all people with Chinese ancestry in Hawaii (including the Chinese-Hawaiians) are included, they form about 1/3 of Hawaii's entire population. Many thousands of them married women of Hawaiian, Hawaiian/European and European origin. A large percentage of the Chinese men married Hawaiian and Hawaiian/European women, while a minority married white women in Hawaii who were of Portuguese descent. The 12592 Asiatic-Hawaiians enumerated in 1930 were the result of Chinese men intermarrying with Hawaiian and part Hawaiian/European. Most Asiatic-Hawaiians men also married Hawaiians and European women (and vice versa). On the census, some Chinese with little native blood would be classified as Chinese – not as Asiatic-Hawaiians – due to dilution of native blood. Intermarriage started to decline in the 1920s.[8] Portuguese and other caucasian women married Chinese men.[9][10] The unions between Chinese men and Portuguese women resulted in children of mixed Chinese Portuguese parentage, called Chinese-Portuguese. For two years to June 30, 1933, 38 of these children who were born were classified as pure Chinese because their fathers were Chinese.[11] A large amount of mingling took place between Chinese and Portuguese, Chinese men married Portuguese, Spanish, Hawaiian, Caucasian-Hawaiian, etc.[12][13][14][15] Only one Chinese man was recorded marrying an American woman.[16][17] Chinese men in Hawaii also married Puerto Rican, Portuguese, Japanese, Greek, and half-white women.[18][19]

Latin America

In Latin America, much of the population are descended from Amerindians, Europeans and Africans. They formed the Mestizo and Mulatto populations that populate the countries in Latin America. Intermarriage and inter-relations occurred on a larger scale than most places in the world. In some countries, Asian immigrants have also intermarried among the groups. About 300,000 Cantonese coolies and migrants (almost all males) were shipped 1849 to 1874 Latin America, many of them intermarried and cohabited with the Black, Mestizo, and European population of Cuba, Peru, Guyana, Trinidad. Around 20,000 Mostly Cantonese and some Hakka coolies migrated to Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad. Many of them also intermarried with Black women and East Indian women. Unlike in Trinidad Tobago and Guyana who were predominantly Cantonese men who intermarried with Black women. In Jamaica, the Chinese who married Black women were almost all Hakka. According to the 1946 Census from Jamaica and Trinidad alone, 12,394 Chinese were located between Jamaica and Trinidad. 5,515 of those who lived in Jamaica were Chinese Jamaican and another 3,673 were Chinese-Trinidadians living in Trinidad.[20] In Jamaica and other Caribbean nations as well many Chinese males over past generations took up African wives, gradually assimilating or absorbing many Chinese descendants into the African Caribbean community or the overall mixed-race community.[21] In Guyana, the Chinese were mostly Cantonese men and who intermarried with the local women. Because almost all of the Chinese indentured immigrants were men, they tended to intermarry with both East Indians and Africans, and thus the Chinese of Guyana did not remain as physically distinct as other groups.[22]


About 100,000 Cantonese coolies (almost all males) in 1849 to 1874 migrated to Peru and intermarried with Peruvian women of mestizo, European, Ameridian, European/mestizo, African and mulatto origin. Many Peruvian Chinese today are of mixed Chinese, Spanish, African, Ameridian. Estimates for Chinese-Peruvian is about 1.3 – 1.6 millions. Asian Peruvians are estimated to be 3% of the population, but one source places the number of citizens with some Chinese ancestry at 4.2 million, which equates to 15% of the country's total population.


120000 Cantonese coolies (all males) entered Cuba under contract for 80 years, most did not marry, but Hung Hui (1975) cites there was frequent sexual activity between black women and Cantonese coolies. According to Osberg (1965) the free Chinese conducted the practice of buying slave women and freeing them expressly for marriage. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Chinese men (Cantonese) engaged in sexual activity with white Cuban women and black Cuban women, and from such relations many children were born.[23]

In the 1920s an additional 30000 Cantonese and small groups of Japanese also arrived; both immigrations were exclusively male, and there was rapid with white, black, and mulato populations.[24]

In the study of Genetic origin, admixture, and asymmetry in maternal and paternal human lineages in Cuba. Thirty-five Y-chromosome SNPs were typed in the 132 male individuals of the Cuban sample. The study does not include any people with some Chinese ancestry. All the samples were White Cubans and Black Cubans. 2 out of 132 male sample belong to East Asian Haplogroup O2 which is found in significant frequencies among Cantonese people is found in 1.5% of Cuban population.[25]


The Chinese who migrated to Mexico in the 19th to 20th centuries were almost entirely Cantonese men. They married Mexican women, which led to anti-Chinese prejudice; many were expelled, while those who were allowed to stay intermarried with the Mexican population. The Mexicali officials estimate was that slightly more than 2,000 are full-blooded Chinese and about 8,000 are mixed-blood Chinese-Mexicans. Other estimates claimed 50,000 residents more than thought who are of Chinese descent. 10,000 full-blooded Chinese, down from 35,000 in the 1920s.[26] Marriage of these people to full-blooded Mexicans is diluting the community further.[26] Chinese Mexicans in Mexicali consider themselves equally “cachanilla,” a term used for locals, as any other resident of the city, even if they speak Cantonese in addition to Spanish. The sentiment against Chinese men was due to (and almost all Chinese immigrants in Mexico were men) stealing employment and Mexican women from Mexican men who had gone off to fight in the Revolution or in World War I.[27] In San Luis Potosí there is 3.45% of O-M175 which is common marker among Chinese, East Asian, Southeast Asian and Central Asian to an extent.[28]

Costa Rica

The Chinese originated from the Cantonese male migrants. Pure Chinese make up only 1% of the Costa Rican population, but according to Jacqueline M. Newman, as close to 10% of the people in Costa Rica are Chinese, if we count the people who are Chinese, married to a Chinese, or of mixed Chinese descent.[29] Most Chinese immigrants since then have been Cantonese, but in the last decades of the 20th century, a number of immigrants have also come from Taiwan. Many men came alone to work and married Costa Rican women and speak Cantonese. However the majority of the descendants of the first Chinese immigrants no longer speak cantonese and feel themselves to be Costa Ricans.[30] They married Tican women (Who an blend of Europeans, Caztizos, Mestizos, Indian, Black).[31] An Tican is also an White person with small portion of non white blood like Caztizos. The census of 1989 shows about 98% of the of Costa Ricans were either white, Castizos or Mestizos, with 80% being white or Caztizos.


Many thousands of Chinese men (mostly Hakka) and Indian men married local Jamaican women. In the study of "Y-chromosomal diversity in Haiti and Jamaica: Contrasting levels of sex-biased gene flow." shows the paternal Chinese haplogroup O-M175 at a frequency of 3.8% in local Jamaicans ( non-Chinese Jamaicans) including the Indian H-M69 (0.6%) and L-M20 (0.6%) in local Jamaicans.[32] Among the country's most notable Afro-Asians are reggae singers Sean Paul, Tami Chynn and Dana King.

Africa and Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Interracial marriage between Arab men and their non-Arab harem slave girls was common in the Arab world during the Arab slave trade, which lasted throughout the Middle Ages and early modern period.[33] Most of these slaves came from places such as Sub-Saharan Africa (mainly Zanj) the North Caucasus,[34] Central Asia (mainly Tartars), and Central and Europe (mainly Slavs from Serbia – Saqaliba, Spain, France, Italy).[35][36][37] The Barbary pirates from North Africa captured and enslaved 1.25 million white slaves from Western Europe and North America between the 16th and 19th centuries.[38][39] Outside the Arabic World, it was also common for Arab conquerors, traders and explorers to intermarry with local females in the lands they conquered or traded with, in various different parts of Africa, Asia (see Asia section) and Europe (see Europe section).

In ancient times a Celtic people known as Galatians came from Northern Europe and settled in what is present day Turkey and thus intermarried with the people there. Similarly it is believed by many that the ancient Hittites of present day Turkey originated in Southeastern Europe, or the Balkans, along the Caspian Sea or from the Armenian highlands or across the Black sea. These Hittites intermarried into Israel as shown by the tale of King David and Bathsheeba. During the empire of Alexander the Great, many Greek soldiers had interracial relationships with women throughout the Middle East all the way to Northern India. Later North Africa and parts of the Middle East were part of the Roman Empire and many European men (mostly Romans, Dacians, Germanics (Franks, Alamanni, Saxons, Goths, Vandals etc.), Sarmatians, Scythians, Celts from Gaul, Iberia, Britania etc., Greeks and Armenians) were posted as soldiers here. Many of them had interracial relationships with local women. The Germanic people known as the Vandals conquered North Africa during the great migration period which led to opportunities of interracial relationships between Germanic men and Berber women, whose descendants in turn intermarried with Arabs when Islam conquered that area. Turks of Anatolia have as ancestors not only Central Asian Turkish immigrants, but of every ethnic group that ever liven in, conquered, or passed through Anatolia, such as Jews, Mongols, Romans, Greeks, Hittites, Persians, and Arabs.

Medieval Western Asia was repeatedly invaded by Europeans (Crusades) and Mongols (Mongol Empire), which led to opportunities for interracial relationships between European, Mongol and other Central Asian/East Asian soldiers and local Arab women. As well as many Europeans, there were North Africans, South Asians and Central Asians who worked as mercenaries and traders in the area, most of them converting to Islam and taking local women as wives.

From AD 839, Viking Varangian mercenaries who were in the service of the Byzantine Empire, notably Harald Sigurdsson, campaigned in North Africa, Jerusalem and other places in the Middle East during the Byzantine-Arab Wars. They interbred with the local population as spoils of warfare or through eventual settling with many Scandinavian Viking men taking Arab or Anatolian women as wives. There is archaeological evidence the Vikings had established contact with the city of Baghdad, at the time the center of the Islamic Empire, and connected with the populace there.[40] Regularly plying the Volga with their trade goods (furs, tusks, seal fat, seal boats and notably female slaves; the one period in the history of the slave-trade when females were priced higher than males), the Vikings were active in the Arab slave trade at the time.[41] These slaves, most often Europeans that were captured from the coasts of Europe or during war periods,[42] and sold to Arabic traders in Al-Andalus and the Emirate of Sicily.

Intermarriage was accepted in Arab society, though only if the husband was Muslim. It was a fairly common theme in medieval Arabic literature and Persian literature. For example, the Persian poet Nizami, who married his Central Asian Kipchak slave girl, wrote The Seven Beauties (1196). Its frame story involves a Persian prince marrying seven foreign princesses, including Byzantine, Chinese, Indian, Khwarezmian, Maghrebian, Slavic and Tartar princesses. Hadith Bayad wa Riyad, a 12th-century Arabic tale from Al-Andalus, was a love story involving an Iberian girl and a Damascene man. The Arabian Nights tale of "The Ebony Horse" involves the Prince of Persia, Qamar al-Aqmar, rescuing his lover, the Princess of Sana'a, from the Byzantine Emperor who also wishes to marry her.[43]

At times, some marriages would have a major impact on the politics of the region. The most notable example was the marriage of As-Salih Ayyub, the Sultan of the Kurdish Ayyubid dynasty, to Shajar al-Durr, a slave of Turkic origin from Central Asia. Following her husband's death, she became the Sultana of Egypt and the first Mamluk ruler. Her reign marked the end of the Ayyubid dynasty and the beginning of the Mameluk era, when a series of former Mamluk slaves would rule over Egypt and occasionally other neighbouring regions.[44][45][46][47]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa has a long history of interracial mixing with Arabs and later Europeans having sexual relations with black Africans. Arabs played a big role in the African slave trade and unlike the trans-atlantic trade most of the black African slaves in the Arab slave trade were women. Most of them were used as sexual slaves by the Arab men and some were taken as wives.

In the former Lusophone Africa (now known as Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde) racial mixing between white Portuguese and black Africans was fairly common, especially in Cape Verde where the majority of the population is of mixed descent.

There have been several cases of Chinese merchants and laborers marrying black African women as many Chinese workers were employed to build railways and other infrastructural projects in Africa. These labour groups were made up completely of men with very few Chinese women coming to Africa. In Réunion and Madagascar, intermarriage between Chinese men of Cantonese origin and African women is not uncommon.[48]

South Africa

There is a significant mixed race population, the result of mostly European and African unions, in South Africa, called Coloureds. The term Coloured is also used to describe persons of mixed race in Namibia, to refer to those of part Khoisan, part white descent. The Basters of Namibia constitute a separate ethnic group that are sometimes considered a sub-group of the Coloured population of that country.

Interracial marriage was banned under apartheid. Today there are a number of high profile interracial couples in South Africa, such as the union of Matthew Booth, a white football player, and his wife Sonia Bonneventia, a black former Miss South Africa first princess, and international model,[49] and Bryan Habana, a coloured South African rugby union player, and his white wife Janine Viljoen.[50]


The Australian Government does not release information on the ethnicities of marriage partners, but provide information on their countries of birth.

  • In 2009 there were 120,118 marriages recorded in Australia. About 42% involved at least one partner who was not Australian born.
  • 15.% of Australian-born women, and 17.4% of Australian-born men, married somebody who was not Australian-born.
  • American (68%), Greek (62%) and Irish-born (62%) women were the most likely to marry an Australian-born man than a man born elsewhere.
  • Indian (12%), Chinese (16%) and 'other South and Central Asia'-born (16%) women were the least likely to marry an Australian-born man than a man born elsewhere.
  • American (63%), Lebanese (62%) and Irish-born (62%) men were the most likely to marry an Australian-born woman than a woman born elsewhere.
  • Chinese (2%), 'other North Asia' (7%) and Vietnamese-born (8%) men were the least likely to marry an Australian-born woman than a woman born elsewhere.
  • Chinese-born men were the most likely to marry a woman from the same country (91%).

Indigenous Australians have a high interracial marriage rate. According to the 2000 Census in 1996, 64% of all married or de facto married couples involving an Indigenous person were mixed (i.e., only one partner was indigenous). In 55% of such couples, the Indigenous partner was female.[51]

Most of the early Chinese-Australia population was formed by Cantonese migrants from Guangzhou and Taishan, including some from Fujian, they came during the goldrush period of the 1850s. Marriage records show that between the 1850s and around the start of the 20th century, there were about 2000 legal marriages between white women and migrant Chinese men in Australia’s eastern colonies, probably with similar numbers involved in de facto relationships of various kinds (ex: Cohabitation, sexual intimacy.)[52] The number of intermarriage declined, as stories of viciousness and the seduction of white women grew, mixed with opposition to intermarriage. Rallys against Chinese men taking white women became widespread, many Australian men saw the Chinese men intermarrying and cohabiting with white women, as an threat to the white race. In late 1878 there were 181 marriages between European women and Chinese men, and 171 couples cohabiting without matrimony, resulting in 586 Eurasian children.[53] Such numbers of Intermarriage would continue until 1880s and the 1930s.


Number of individuals married outside their ethnic group
Ethnic group Males Females
1999 2007 2008 1999 2007 2008
Total 18,402 26,632 24,243 18,402 26,632 24,243
Kazakh 2,199 4,981 4,785 1,542 4,062 3,874
Russian 5,957 7,795 6,991 7,431 9,714 8,544
Uzbek 240 714 657 200 600 537
Ukrainian 2,717 3,070 2,555 2,541 2,858 2,466
Uighur 269 658 655 224 530 525
Tatar 948 1,682 1,425 938 1,651 1,413
German 2,844 2,365 2,048 3,137 2,566 2,270
Other 3,180 5,351 4,426 2,313 4,610 4,010
Unknown 48 16 701 76 41 604

Central Asia

Today Central Asians are a mixed race of various peoples such as Mongols, Turkics, and Iranics. The Mongol invasion of Central Asia in the 13th century resulted in the massacre of the mostly white Iranic population and other Indo-European people with intermarriage and assimilation. Modern genetic studies show that Central Asian Turkic people and Hazara are an mixture of Northeast Asians and Indo-European people. Caucasian ancestry is prevalent in almost all central Asian Turkic people. Kazakhs, Hazara, Karakalpaks, and Crimean Tatars have more European maternal Mtdna than European paternal Y-dna while Kyrgyz have more European Y-dna with substantial European Mtdna. Other Turkic people like Uyghurs, Uzbeks, have mostly European Y-dna but also high percentages of European Mtdna. Turkmen have predominately European Y-dna and Mtdna.[54]

Interracial marriage between Turkic, European, Central Asians in Kazakhstan are rare but increasing. The most common marriages are between Kazakh and Volga Tatars. Intermarriage marriage usually involve Kazakh men due to Muslim tradition favouring male over female. For example 1% were between Russians, Tatars, and Kazakhs (792 between Russians and Tatars, 561 between Kazakhs and Tatars, and 212 between Kazakhs and Russians). 701 Kazakh men marrying Russians or Tatars against only 72 Kazakh women.[55] Among Kirgiz men living in Uzbekistan and married to non-Kirgiz women, 9.6% had married Russians, 25.6% Uzbeks, and 34.3% Tatars. Among Kazakh men in Uzbekistan, the structure of mixed marriages appeared as follows: 4.4% married Russians.[56]

Eastern Asia


There have been various periods in the history of China where a number of Arabs, Persians and Turks from the Western Regions (Central Asia and West Asia) migrated to China, beginning with the arrival of Islam during the Tang Dynasty in the 7th century. Due to the majority of these immigrants being male, some intermarried with local Chinese females. Intermarriage was initially discouraged by the Tang Dynasty. In 836 Lu Chun was appointed as governor of Canton, he was disgusted to find Chinese living with foreigners and intermarriage between Chinese and foreigners. Lu enforced separation, banning interracial marriages, and made it illegal for foreigners to own property. Lu Chun believed his principles were just and upright.[57] The 836 law specifically banned Chinese from forming relationships with "Dark peoples" or "People of colour", which was used to describe foreigners, such as "Iranians, Sogdians, Arabs, Indians, Malays, Sumatrans", among others.[58][59] The Song Dynasty allowed third-generation immigrants with official titles to intermarry with Chinese imperial princesses.[60]

Iranian, Arab, and Turkic women also migrated to China and mixed with Chinese. Iranian women dancers were in demand in China during this period. During the Sui dynasty, ten young dancing girls were sent from Persia to China. During the Tang dynasty, bars were often attended by Iranian or Sogdian waitresses who performed dances for clients.[61][62][63][64][65][66][67][68][69][70][71]

During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period(Wudai) (907–960), there are examples of Persian women marrying Chinese emperors. Some Chinese officials from the Song Dynasty era also married women from Dashi (Arabia).[72]

From the tenth to twelfth century, Persian women were to be found in Guangzhou (Canton), some of them in the tenth century like Mei Zhu in the harem of the Emperor Liu Chang, and in the twelfth century large numbers of Persian women lived there, noted for wearing mulitiple earrings and "quarrelsome dispositions".[73][74] Some scholars did not differentiate between Persian and Arab, and some say that the Chinese called all women coming from the Persian Gulf "Persian Women".[75] Genetic evidence shows Persian women intermarried with Cantonese men of Guangzhou. Yao Yonggang et al. reported that Kivisild detected one W mtDNA out of 69 Guangzhou Cantonese population, an common Middle Easterner and Iranian marker.[76]

Of the Han Chinese Li family in Quanzhou, Li Nu, the son of Li Lu, visited Hormuz in Persia in 1376, married a Persian or an Arab girl, and brought her back to Quanzhou. He then converted to Islam Li Nu was the ancestor of the Ming Dynasty reformer Li Chih.[77][78][79]

By the 14th century, the total population of Muslims in China had grown to 4 million.[80] After Mongol rule had been overthrown by the Ming Dynasty in 1368, this led to a violent Chinese backlash against West and Central Asians. In order to contain the violence, the Ming administration instituted a policy where all West and Central Asian males were required to intermarry with native Chinese females, hence assimilating them into the local population. Their descendants are today known as the Hui people.[60][60] 6.7% Hui people's maternal genetics have an Caucasian origin, while slightly over 30% paternal genetics also have an Caucasian origin.[81] In the 19th century, the Hui rebelled against the Chinese government trying to create an independent state.

Han women who married Hui men became Hui, and Han men who married Hui women also became Hui.[82][83][84] In 779 the Tang dynasty issued an edict which forced Uighurs to wear their ethnic dress, stopped them from marrying Chinese females, and banned them from pretending to be Chinese. The magristrate who issued the orders may have wanted to protect "purity" in Chinese custom.[85] Han men also married Turkic Uyghur women in Xinjiang from 1880–1949. Sometimes poverty influenced Uyghur women to marry Han men. These marriages were not recognized by local mullahs since Muslim women were not allowed to marry non-Muslim men under Islamic law. This did not stop the women because they enjoyed advantages: they were not subject to Islamic law and not subjected to certain taxes. Uyghur women married to Han men also did not have to wear a veil, and they received their husband's property upon his death. These women were forbidden from having burial in Muslim graves. The children of Han men and Uyghur women were considered to be Uyghur. Some Han soldiers had Uyghur women as temporary wives, and after their service was up, the wife was left behind or sold. If it was possible, sons were taken, and daughters were sold.[86]

There is a small but growing population of mixed marriages between male African (mostly Nigerian) traders and local Chinese women in the city of Guangzhou where it is estimated that in 2013 there are 400 African-Chinese families.[87] The rise in mixed marriages has not been without controversy. The state, fearing fraud marriages, has strictly regulated matters. In order to obtain government-issued identification (which is required to attend school), the children must be registered under the Chinese mother's family name. Many African fathers, fearing that in doing so, they would relinquish their parental rights, have instead chosen to not send their children to school. There are efforts to open an African-Chinese school but it would first require government authorization.[87]

Hong Kong

In the study of Mitochondrial DNA control region variation in a population sample Irwin et al. found U2b mtDNA once, other U2 twice, H11 once and J1 once in 377 HKers which suggest 1.34% of West Eurasian female admixture in Hong Kong Cantonese population. In the sample of 112 found 2 (or 1.78%) mtDNA Indo-European markers.[88] These results do not give any information as to the extent of male European admixture in the Hong Kong population. Many Tanka women fathered children with foreign men. Ernest John Eitel mentioned in 1889 how important change had taken place among Eurasian girls, the offspring of illicit connections: Instead of becoming concubines, they were commonly brought up respectably and married to Hong Kong Chinese husbands. Some believed many Hong Kong born Eurasian were assimilated into the Hong Kong society by Intermarriage with the Cantonese population. An good example of a Cantonese Eurasians is Nancy Kwan one of Hollywood sex symbol, she was of Eurasian origin born in 1939 in Hong Kong to a father of a Cantonese architect and mother who is an model of British and Scottish descent. The world most influential martial artist icon Bruce Lee, was also born to parents of Hong Kong heritage to a Cantonese father and a Eurasian mother.

Main article: Tanka people

Ernest John Eitel controversially claimed that most "half caste" people in Hong Kong were descended exclusively from Europeans having relationship with Tanka women. The theory that most of the Eurasian mixed race Hong Kong people are descended only from Tanka women and European men, and not ordinary Cantonese women, has been backed up by other researchers who pointed out that Tanka women freely consorted with foreigners due to the fact that they were not bound by the same Confucian traditions as the Cantonese, and having a relationship with European men was advantageous for Tanka women, but Lethbridge criticized it as "a 'myth' propagated by xenophobic Cantonese to account for the establishment of the Hong Kong Eurasian community". Carl Smith's study in late 1960s on the protected women seems, to some degree, support Ernest John Eitel theory. Smith says that the Tankas experienced certain restrictions within the traditional Chinese social structure. Being a group marginal to the traditional Chinese society of the Puntis (Cantonese), they did not have the same social pressure in dealing with Europeans. The ordinary Cantonese women did not sleep with European men, the Eurasian population was formed mostly from Tanka and European admixture.[89][90][91][92]

They invaded Hongkong the moment the settlement was started, living at first on boats in the harbonr with their numerons families, and gradually settling on shore. They have maintained ever since almost a monopoly of the supply of pilots and ships' crews, of the fish trade and the cattle trade, but unfortunately also of the trade in girls and women. Strange to say, when the settlement was first started, it was estimated that some 2,000 of these Tan-ka lieople had flocked to Hongkong, but at the present time they are abont the same number, a tendency having set in among them to settle on shore rather than on the water and to disavow their Tan-ka extraction in order to mix on equal terms with the mass of the Chinese community. The half-caste population in Hongkong were, from the earliest days of the settlement of the Colony and down to the present day, almost exclusively the off-spring of these Tan-ka people. But, like the Tan-ka people themselves, they are happily under the influence of a process of continuons re-absorption in the mass of the Chinese residents of the Colony.[93]

Elizabeth Wheeler Andrew (1845–1917) and Katharine Caroline Bushnell (February 5, 1856 January 26, 1946), who wrote extensively on the position of women in the British Empire, wrote about the Tanka inhabitants of Hong Kong and their position in the prostitution industry, catering towards foreign sailors. The Tanka did not marry with the Chinese, being descendants of the natives, they were restricted to the waterways. They supplied their women as prostitutes to British sailors and assisted the British in their military actions around Hong Kong.[94] The Tanka in Hong Kong were considered "outcasts" categorized low class.[95] Tanka women were ostracized from the Cantonese community, and were nicknamed "salt water girls " (ham shui mui) for their services as prostitutes to foreigners in Hong Kong.[96][97]

South Asians have been living in Hong Kong throughout the colonial period, before the partition of India into the nations of India and Pakistan. They migrated to Hong Kong and worked as police officers as well as army officers during colonial rule. 25,000 of the Muslims in Hong Kong trace their roots back to Faisalabad in what is now Pakistan; around half of them belong to 'local boy' families, who descended from early Indian/Pakistani immigrants who took local Chinese wives.[98][99]


Due to a few Chinese living in Macau, the early Macanese ethnic group was formed from Portuguese men with Malay, Japanese, Indian women.[100] The Portuguese encouraged Chinese migration to Macau, and most Macanese in Macau were formed from intermarriages between Portuguese and Chinese.

Rarely did Chinese women marry Portuguese initially, mostly women from Goa, Siam, Indo China, or Malay, were brides of the Portuguese men in Macau.[101] Many Chinese became Macanese simply by converting to Catholicism, and had no ancestry from Portuguese, having assimilated into the Macanese people.[102] Majority of the early intermarriages of people from China with Portuguese were between Portuguese men and women of Tanka origin, who were considered the lowest class of people in China and had relations with Portuguese settlers and sailors, or low class Chinese women.[103][104] Western men were refused by high class Chinese women, who did not marry foreigners, while an minority were Cantonese men and Portuguese women. Macanese men and women also married with the Portuguese and Chinese, as a result some Macanese became indistinguishable from the Chinese or Portuguese population. Because the Majority of the population who migrated to Macau was Cantonese, Macau became an culturely Cantonese speaking society, other ethnic groups became fluent in Cantonese. Most Macanese had paternal Portuguese heritage until 1974.[104] It was in 1980s that Macanese and Portuguese women began to marry men who defined themselves ethnically as Chinese.[103]

Literature in Macau was written about love affairs and marriage between the Tanka women and Portuguese men, like "A-Chan, A Tancareira", by Henrique de Senna Fernandes.[103][105][106]

After the handover of Macau to China in 1999 many Macaunese migrated to other countries. Of the Portuguese and Macanese women who stayed in Macau married with local Cantonese men, and many Macanese also now have Cantonese paternal heritage. There is between 25,000 – 46,000 Macanese, only 5000 – 8000 live in Macau, while most live in Latin America, America, Portugal. Unlike the Macanese of Macau who are strictly of Chinese and Portuguese heritage. Many Macanese living abroad are not entirely of Portuguese and Chinese ancestry, many Macanese men and women intermarried with the local population of America and Latin America etc. and have only partial Macanese heritage.


Main article: Marriage in Japan

Inter-ethnic marriage in Japan dates back to the 7th century, when Chinese and Korean immigrants began intermarrying with the local population. By the early 9th century, over one-third of all noble families in Japan had ancestors of foreign origin.[107] In the 1590s, over 50,000 Koreans were forcibly brought to Japan, where they intermarried with the local population. In the 16th and 17th centuries, around 58,000 Japanese travelled abroad, many of whom intermarried with the local women in Southeast Asia.[108]

Portuguese traders in Japan also intermarried with the local Christian women in the 16th and 17th centuries.[109]

During the anti-Christian persecutions in 1596, many Japanese Christians fled to Macau and other Portuguese colonies such as Goa, where there was a community of Japanese slaves and traders by the early 17th century.[107] The Japanese slaves were brought or captured by Portuguese traders from Japan.[110] Intermarriage with the local populations in these Portuguese colonies also took place.[107]

In 2003, there were 740,191 marriages in Japan, of which 28,831 involved a foreign bride, and 7,208 involved a foreign groom. Foreign-born women who married a Japanese-born man were predominantly born in China (10,242), The Philippines (7,794), Korea (5,318), Thailand (1,445) and Brazil (296). Foreign-born men who married a Japanese-born woman were predominantly born in Korea (2,235), the United States (1,529), China (890), UK (334) and Brazil (265)[111]

In 2006 there were 735,132 marriages in Japan, of which 40,154 involved a foreign bride, and 8,708 involved a foreign groom. Foreign-born women who married a Japanese-born man were predominantly born in the Philippines (12,150), China (12,131), Korea (6,041), Thailand (1,676) and Brazil (285). Foreign-born men who married a Japanese-born woman were predominantly born in Korea (2,335), the United States (1,474), China (1,084), UK (386) and the Philippines (195).[112]


There were 43,121 international marriages between Koreans and non-Koreans in 2005, up 21.6% from a year earlier, according to Korea National Statistics Office[113] data published in the Korea Times newspaper on March 30, 2006. 11% of couples who married in 2007 were international couples. The majority of them involve South Korean males married to foreign females,[114] from China, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, United States, Mongolia, Thailand, and Russia. However, majority of these brides are ethnic Koreans from China and Han Chinese.[115][116] The most common explanation for this phenomenon is that there is a lack of South Korean women who are willing to marry men living in rural areas.

In recent times, about one third of South Korean men in rural areas married women from abroad, according to Korea National Statistics Office data published in 2006.[117] Marriages between South Korean men and foreign women are often arranged by marriage brokers or international religious groups. There is mounting evidence to suggest that there is a statistically higher level of poverty, violence and divorce in the Korean men married to foreign women cohort.[118] Most Korean men who marry Southeast Asian women end up with divorces. This is because Southeast Asian women enter South Korea purely for economic reasons in order to raise money for their families back in their homeland. Currently divorces between Koreans and foreign spouses make up 10% of the total Korean divorce rate.

Interracial marriage in Korea dates back to at least the Three Kingdoms period. Records about the period, in particular the section in the Samguk Yusa about the Gaya kingdom (it was absorbed by the kingdom of Silla later), indicate that in 48 AD, King Kim Suro of Gaya (the progenitor of the Gimhae Kim clan) took a princess (Heo Hwang-ok) from the "Ayuta nation" (which is the Korean name for the city of Ayodhya in North India) as his bride and queen.[119] Two major Korean clans today claim descent from this union.[120]

Somewhat later, during the arrival of Muslims in Korea in the Middle Ages, a number of Arab, Persian and Turkic navigators and traders settled in Korea. They took local Korean wives and established several Muslim villages.[121] Some assimilation into Buddhism and Shamanism eventually took place, owing to Korea's geographical isolation from the Muslim world.[122] At least two or three major Korean clans today claim descent from Muslim families.[123][124]

Southeast Asia

Interracial marriage in Southeast Asia dates back to the spread of Indian culture, including Hinduism and Buddhism, to the region. From the 1st century onwards, mostly male traders and merchants from the Indian subcontinent frequently intermarried with the local female populations in Cambodia, Burma, Champa, central Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Many Indianized kingdoms rose in Southeast Asia during the Middle Ages.[125]

From the 9th century onwards, some male Arab traders from the Middle East settled in Maritime Southeast Asia and married local Malay, Indonesian and Filipina female populations, which contributed to the spread of Islam in Southeast Asia.[126] From the 14th to the 17th centuries, many Chinese, Indian and Arab traders settled within the kingdoms of Maritime Southeast Asia and married within local female populations. This tradition continued among Spain and Portuguese traders who also married within local populations.[127] In the 16th and 17th centuries, thousands of Japanese people travelled to Southeast Asia and married with local women there.[108]


Burmese Muslims are the descendants of Indian Muslims, Arabs, Persians, Turks, Pathans, Chinese Muslims and Malays who settled and intermarried with the local Burmese population and other Burmese ethnic groups such as the Shan, Karen, and Mon.[128][129]

During British Indian rule, millions of Indians, mostly Muslim, migrated there. The small population mixed descendants of Indian men and local Burmese women are called "Zerbadees", often in a pejorative sense implying mixed race. The Rohingya claim to have descended from Bengalis who intermarried with the local women, but this remains a hotly contested issue. The political situation surrounding the actual history of the Rohingya and the lack of evidence and the counter-claims mean that proper ancestry cannot be established. The Panthays, a group of Chinese Muslims descended from West Asians and Central Asians, migrated from China and also intermarried with local Burmese females.[130]

Burma has an estimated 52,000 Anglo-Burmese people, descended from British and Burmese people. Anglo-Burmese people frequently intermarried with Anglo-Indian immigrants, who assimilated into the Anglo-Burmese community.

Malaysia and Singapore

In Malaysia and Singapore, the majority of inter-ethnic marriages are between Chinese and Indians. The offspring of such marriages are informally known as "Chindian". The Malaysian and Singaporean governments, however, only classify them by their father's ethnicity. As the majority of these marriages involve an Indian groom and Chinese bride, the majority of Chindians in Malaysia are usually classified as "Indian" by the Malaysian government. As for the Malays, who are predominantly Muslim, legal restrictions in Malaysia make it less common for them to intermarry with either the Indians, who are predominantly Hindu, or the Chinese, who are predominantly Buddhist and Taoist.[131]

It is common for Arabs in Singapore and Malaysia to take local Malay wives, due to a common Islamic faith.[126] The Chitty people, in Singapore and the Malacca state of Malaysia, are a Tamil people with considerable Malay descent, which was due to the first Tamil settlers, thousand of them taking local wives, since they did not bring along any of their own women with them. According to government statistics, the population of Singapore as of September 2007 was 4.68 million, of whom multiracial people, including Chindians and Eurasians, formed 2.4%. In 2007, 16.4% of all marriages in Singapore were inter-ethnic.[132]


Centuries of migration, diaspora, assimilation, and cultural diversity made most Filipinos open-minded in embracing interracial marriage and multiculturalism. Following independence, the Philippines has seen both small and large-scale immigration into the country, mostly involving Chinese, Americans, British, Europeans, Japanese, and South Asians. More recent migrations into the country by Koreans, Persians, Brazilians and other Southeast Asians have contributed to the enrichment of the country's ethnic landscape.

Thousands of interracial marriages between Americans and Filipinos have taken place since the United States in turn took possession of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. Due to the strategic location of the Philippines, as many as 21 bases and 100,000 military personnel were stationed there since the U.S. first colonized the islands in 1898. These bases were decommissioned in 1992 after the end of the Cold War, but left behind thousands of Amerasian children. The Pearl S. Buck International foundation estimates there are 52,000 Amerasians scattered throughout the Philippines.

In the United States intermarriage among Filipinos with other races is common. They have the largest number of interracial marriages among Asian immigrant groups, as documented in California.[133] It is also noted that 21.8% of Filipino Americans are of mixed blood, second among Asian Americans, and is the fastest growing.[134]

Interracial marriages particularly among Southeast Asians are continually increasing. At present, there is an increasing number of Southeast Asian intermarriages particularly between Filipinos and Malaysians (Dumanig, 2009). Such marriages have created an impact in language, religion and culture. Dumanig (2009) argues that Filipino-Malaysian couples no longer prefer their own ethnic languages as the medium of communication at home. The use of English with some switching in Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese, and Filipino is commonly used.[135]

Philippine nationality law is currently based upon the principles of jus sanguinis and therefore descent from a parent who is a citizen/national of the Republic of the Philippines is the primary method of acquiring Philippine citizenship. Birth in the Philippines to foreign parents does not in itself confer Philippine citizenship, although RA9139, the Administrative Naturalization Law of 2000, does provide a path for administrative naturalization of certain aliens born on Philippine soil (Jus soli). Together, some of these recent immigrants have intermarried with the indigenous Filipinos, as well as with the previous immigrant groups, giving rise to Filipinos of mixed racial and/or ethnic origins also known as mestizos.

South Asia

The Indian subcontinent has a long history of inter-ethnic marriage dating back to ancient history. Various groups of people have been intermarrying for millennia in South Asia, including speakers of Dravidian, Indo-Aryan (Indic), Iranian, Austroasiatic, and Tibeto-Burman languages. This was particularly common in the northwestern and northeastern parts of the subcontinent. In the northwest (mainly modern-day Pakistan), invading Persians, Indo-Scythians, Indo-Hephthalites, Indo-Greeks and Mughals often took local wives in that region during Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

According to the Indo-Aryan migration theory, Indo-Iranian nomadic groups (Aryans) from Central Asia migrated to India more than 3,000 years ago. In turn, the Indo-Iranian languages are descended from the Indo-European languages speakers from who may have origins around the Black Sea. According to 19th century British historians, it was these Aryans who and established the caste system, an elitist form of social organization that separated the light-skinned Indo-Aryan conquerors from the conquered dark-skinned indigenous Dravidian tribes through enforcement of racial endogamy. Much of this was simply conjecture, fueled by British imperialism[136] British policies of divide and rule as well as enumeration of the population into rigid categories during the tenure of British rule in India contributed towards the hardening of these segregated caste identities.[137] Since the independence of India from British rule, the British fantasy of an "Aryan Invasion and subjugation of the dark skinned Dravidians in India" has become a staple polemic in South Asian geopolitics, including the propaganda of Indophobia in Pakistan.[138] There is no decisive theory as to the origins of the caste system in India, and globally renown historians and archaeologists like Jim Shaffer, J.P. Mallory, Edwin Bryant, and others, have disputed the claim of "Aryan Invasion"[139]

Some researchers claim that genetic similarities to Europeans were more common in members of the higher ranks. Their findings, published in Genome Research, supported the idea that members of higher castes are more closely related to Europeans than are the lower castes.[140] According to the research invading European populations were predominantly male who intermarried with local females and formed the upper castes i.e. the local females had upward mobility in caste which was denied to local males. However, other researchers have criticized and contradicted this claim.[141] A study by Joanna L. Mountain et al. of Stanford University had concluded that there was "no clear separation into three genetically distinct groups along caste lines", although "an inferred tree revealed some clustering according to caste affiliation".[142] A 2006 study concluded that the "lower caste groups might have originated with the hierarchical divisions that arose within the tribal groups with the spread of Neolithic agriculturalists, much earlier than the arrival of Aryan speakers", and "the Indo-Europeans established themselves as upper castes among this already developed caste-like class structure within the tribes."[143] A 2006 genetic study by the National Institute of Biologicals in India, testing a sample of men from 32 tribal and 45 caste groups, concluded that the Indians have acquired very few genes from Indo-European speakers.[144] More recent studies have also debunked the claims that so-called "Aryans" and "Dravidians" have a "racial divide". A study conducted by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in 2009 (in collaboration with Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT) analyzed half a million genetic markers across the genomes of 132 individuals from 25 ethnic groups from 13 states in India across multiple caste groups.[145]

Many Indian traders, merchants and missionaries travelled to Southeast Asia (where Indianized kingdoms were established) and often took local wives from the region. The Romani people ("Gypsies") who have origins in the Indian subcontinent travelled westwards and also took local wives in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Genetic studies show that the majority of Romani males carry large frequencies of particular Y chromosomes (inherited paternally) that otherwise exist only in populations from South Asia, in addition to nearly a third of Romani females carrying particular mitochondrial DNA (inherited maternally) that is rare outside South Asia.[146][147] Around circa 800, a ship carrying Persian Jews crashed in India. They settled down in different parts of India and befriended and traded with the local Indian population. Intermarriage occurred, and to this day the Indian Jews physically resemble their surrounding Indian populations due to intermarriage.

There are even cases of Indian princesses marrying kings abroad. For example, the Korean text Samguk Yusa about the Gaya kingdom (it was absorbed by the kingdom of Silla later), indicate that in 48 AD, King Kim Suro of Gaya (the progenitor of the Gimhae Kim clan) took a princess (Princess Heo) from the "Ayuta nation" (which is the Korean name for the city of Ayodhya in North India) as his bride and queen. Princess Heo belonged to the Mishra royal family of Ayodhya. According to the Samguk Yusa, the princess had a dream about a heavenly fair handsome king from a far away land who was awaiting heaven's anointed ride. After Princess Heo had the dream, she asked her parents, the king and queen of Ayodhya, for permission to set out and seek the foreign prince, which the king and queen urged with the belief that god orchestrated the whole fate. That king was no other than King Kim Suro of the Korean Gaya kingdom.

In Goa during the late 16th and 17th centuries, there was a community of Japanese slaves and traders, who were either Japanese Christians fleeing anti-Christian sentiments in Japan,[107] or Japanese slaves brought or captured by Portuguese traders and their South Asian lascar crewmembers from Japan.[110] In both cases, they often intermarried with the local population in Goa.[107] One offspring of such an intermarriage was Maria Guyomar de Pinha, born in Thailand to a Portuguese-speaking Japanese-Bengali father from Goa and a Japanese mother.[148] In turn, she married the Greek adventurer Constantine Phaulkon.[149]

Inter-ethnic marriages between European men and Indian women were very common during colonial times. According to the historian William Dalrymple, about one in three European men (mostly British, as well as Portuguese, French, Dutch, and to a lesser extent Swedes and Danes) had Indian wives in colonial India. One of the most famous intermarriages was between the Anglo-Indian resident James Achilles Kirkpatrick and the Hyderabadi noblewoman and descendant of prophet Mohammed, Khair-un-Nissa. During the British East India Company's rule in India in the late 18th century and early 19th century, it was initially fairly common for British officers and soldiers to take local Indian wives. The 600,000 strong Anglo-Indian community has descended from such unions. There is also a story of an attractive Gujjar princess falling in love with a handsome English nobleman and the nobleman converted to Islam so as to marry the princess. The 65,000 strong Burgher community of Sri Lanka was formed by the intermarriages of Dutch and Portuguese men with local Sinhalese and Tamil women. Intermarriage also took place in Britain during the 17th to 19th centuries, when the British East India Company brought over many thousands of Indian scholars, lascars and workers (mostly Bengali) who settled down in Britain and took local British wives, some of whom went to India with their husbands.[150] In the mid-19th century, there were around 40,000 British soldiers but less than 2,000 British officials present in India.[151]



Vikings explored and eventually settled in territories in Slavic-dominated areas of Europe. By 950 AD, these settlements were largely Slavicized through intermarriage with the local population. Europe, especially the Balkans, was an important source of captives for the Arab slave trade then, and Saqaliba (Slavic) slaves taken to the Arab World often intermarried or had unions with their Arab owners.


The Nogais who live in Southern Russia / North Caucasus are a mixture of Mongoloid and Caucasoid and also have high frequencies mongoloid paternal y-dna. Some North Caucasus ethnic groups also contain low to moderate frequencies of Mongolian paternal DNA such as Haplogroup_C-M217_.[152][153]


The French Normans were descended from Danish Vikings who were given feudal overlordship of areas in northern France—the Duchy of Normandy—in the 8th century. In that respect, descendants of the Vikings in France and Britain continued to have an influence in northern Europe as well. Likewise, King Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England who was killed during the Norman invasion in 1066, had Danish ancestors. Many of the medieval kings of Norway and Denmark married into English and Scottish royalty and occasionally got involved in dynastic disputes.

During World War I, there were 135,000 soldiers from British India,[154] a large number of soldiers from French North Africa,[155] and 20,000 labourers from South Africa,[156] who served in France. Much of the French male population had gone to war, leaving behind a surplus of French females,[155] many of whom formed interracial relationships with non-white soldiers, mainly Indian[157][158] and North African.[154] British and French authorities allowed foreign Muslim soldiers to intermarry with local French females on the basis of Islamic law, which allows marriage between Muslim men and Christian women. On the other hand, Hindu soldiers in France were restricted from intermarriage on the basis of the Indian caste system.[158]

According to France's 1999 Census, 38% and 34% of male and female married immigrants, respectively, are intermarried. The highest intermarriate rate was for European immigrants, mainly Spanish and Italian, nearly 50% of whom have had intermarriages. 30% of North African immigrants and 20% of Portuguese immigrants have also had intermarriages. The lowest intermarriage rate was for Turkish immigrants, with 14% for married males and 4% for married females.[159]


According to the 2006 figures from Germany's Federal Statistics Office, Turkish men accounted for 14% of foreigners married to German women, followed by Italians and Americans.[160] Conversely, German men marrying non-German women primarily choose Polish women, with Russian, Turkish and Thai women following in roughly equal numbers.[160]

Comparative sociologist Amparo Gonzalez-Ferrer argues that one of the main reasons why Turkish men marry Germans more than Turkish women do is due to Islam permitting men but not women to marry non-Muslims.[160] Dirk Halm, political scientist for the Center for Turkish Studies in Essen, remarked that considering Turkish citizens make up 25% of all foreign residents in Germany—not counting an additional one-third ethnic Turks who are German citizens—intermarriage rates in Germany are "in reality very low".[160]

Iberian Peninsula

In ancient history, the Iberian Peninsula was frequently invaded by foreigners who intermarried with the native population. One of the earliest foreign groups to arrive to the region were the Indo-European Celts who intermarried with the pre-Indo-European Iberians in prehistoric Iberia. They were later followed by the Phoenician Carthaginians and Indo-European Romans who intermarried with the pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula during Classical Antiquity. They were in turn followed by the Germanic Visigoths, Suebi and Vandals and the Sarmatian Alans who also intermarried with the local population in Hispania during late Antiquity. In the 6th century, the region was reconquered by the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) before it was lost again to the Visigothic Kingdom less than a century later.

After the Umayyad conquest of Hispania in the early 8th century, the Islamic state of Al-Andalus was established in Iberia. Due to Islamic marital law allowing a Muslim male to marry Christian and Jewish females, it became common for Arab and Berber males from North Africa to intermarry with the local Germanic, Roman and Iberian females of Hispania.[161][162] The offspring of such marriages were known as Muladi or Muwallad, an Arabic term still used in the modern Arab world to refer to people with Arab fathers and non-Arab mothers.[163] This term was also the origin for the Spanish word Mulatto.[164][165] In addition, many Muladi were also descended from Saqaliba (Slavic) slaves taken from Europe via the Arab slave trade. By the 11th or 12th century, the Muslim population of Al-Andalus had merged into a homogeneous group of people known as the "Moors". After the Reconquista, which was completed in 1492, most of the Moors were forced to either flee to Morocco or convert to Christianity. The ones who converted to Christianity were known as Moriscoes, and they were often persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition on the basis of the Limpieza de sangre ("Cleanliness of blood") or "blue blood" doctrine.[166]

Portuguese colonies

According to Gilberto Freyre, a Brazilian sociologist, miscegenation was commonplace in the Portuguese colonies, and was even supported by the court as a way to boost low populations and guarantee a successful and cohesive settlement. Thus, settlers often released African slaves to become their wives. The children were guaranteed full Portuguese citizenship, provided the parents were married. Some former Portuguese colonies have large mixed-race populations, for instance, Brazil, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Timor Leste, Macau and São Tomé and Príncipe. In the case of Brazil, the influential "Indianist" novels of José de Alencar (O Guarany, Iracema, and Ubirajara) perhaps went farther than in the other colonies, advocating miscegenation in order to create a truly Brazilian race.[167] Mixed marriages between Portuguese and locals in former colonies were very common in all Portuguese colonies. Miscegenation was still common in Africa until the independence of the former Portuguese colonies in the mid-1970s.


Most Icelanders are descendants of Norwegian settlers and Celts from Ireland and Scotland, brought over as slaves during the age of settlement. Recent DNA analysis suggests that around 66% of the male settler-era population was of Norse ancestry, whereas the female population was 60% Celtic. [168][169] [170] [171]

Italian Peninsula

As was the case in other regions conquered by Muslims, it was acceptable in Islamic marital law for a Muslim male to marry Christian and Jewish females in Sicily when under Islamic rule between the 10th and 11th centuries. In this case, most intermarriages were between Arab and Berber males from North Africa and the local Greek, Roman and Italian females of Sicily. Such intermarriages were particularly common in the Emirate of Sicily, where one writer visiting the place in the 970s expressed shock at how common it was in rural areas.[172] After the Norman conquest of southern Italy, all Muslim citizens (whether foreign, native or mixed) of the Kingdom of Sicily were known as "Moors". After a brief period of Arab-Norman culture had flourished under the reign of Roger II of Sicily, later rulers had forced the Moors to either convert to Christianity or be expelled from the kingdom.

In Malta, Arabs from neighbouring Sicily and Calabria intermarried with the local inhabitants,[173] who were descended from Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Vandals. The Maltese people are descended from such unions, and the Maltese language is descended from Siculo-Arabic.

In the Republic of Venice in northern Italy, it was common for foreign Arab and Berber traders, known to Europeans as the "Moors", to take local Italian wives. This became a subject matter in several William Shakespeare plays, most notably Othello, involving an inter-ethnic relationship between a Moorish Othello and his Venetian wife Desdemona, based on Giovanni Battista Giraldi's "Un Capitano Moro" which was itself inspired by an actual incident that occurred in Venice around 1508.[174] At times, the Italian city-states also played an active role in the Arab slave trade, where Moorish and Italian traders occasionally exchanged slaves. For example two researchers suggest that Leonardo da Vinci's mother Caterina, was a slave from the Middle East.[175]

Ottoman Empire

In the 11th century, the Byzantine territory of Anatolia was conquered by the Seljuq Turks, who came from Turkestan in Central Asia. Their Ottoman Turkish descendants went on to annex the Balkans and southern parts of Central Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Due to Islamic marital law allowing a Muslim male to marry Christian and Jewish females, it was common in the Ottoman Empire for Turkish males to intermarry with European females. For example, various sultans of the Ottoman Dynasty often had Greek (Rûm), Slavic (Saqaliba), Venetian, Northcaucasian and French wives. Some of these European wives exerted great influence upon the empire as Valide Sultan ("Sultan's Parent"); some famous examples included Roxelana, a Slavic harem slave who later became Suleiman the Magnificent's favourite wife, and Aimée du Buc de Rivéry, wife of Abdul Hamid I and sister of French Empress Josephine. Due to the common occurrence of such intermarriages in the Ottoman Empire, they had a significant impact on the ethnic makeup of the modern Turkish population in Turkey, which now differs from that of the Turkic population in Central Asia.[176]

The concubines of the Ottoman Sultan consisted chiefly of purchased slaves. Because Islamic law forbade Muslims to enslave fellow Muslims, the Sultan's concubines were generally of Christian origin. The mother of a Sultan, though technically a slave, received the extremely powerful title of Valide Sultan, and at times became effective ruler of the Empire (see Sultanate of women). One notable example was Kösem Sultan, daughter of a Greek Christian priest, who dominated the Ottoman Empire during the early decades of the 17th century.[177]

United Kingdom

Britain has a long history of inter-ethnic marriage among the various European populations that inhabited the island, including the Celtic, Roman, Viking, Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman peoples. Intermarriage with non-European populations began in the late 15th century, with the arrival of the Romani people ("Gypsies"). The arriving Romani nomads took local British wives, forming a distinct community known as the Romnichal. Due to intermarriage, Romnichal today are often indistinguishable from the general white British population.

Inter-ethnic marriage occurred in Britain since the 17th century, when the British East India Company began bringing over many Indian scholars, lascars and workers. Though mixed marriages were not always accepted in British society, there were no legal restrictions against intermarriage at the time.[178][179] By the mid-19th century, there were more than 40,000 Indian seamen, diplomats, scholars, soldiers, officials, tourists, businessmen and students arriving to Britain.[151] By the late 19th century and early 20th century, there were around 70,000 South Asians in Britain,[180] 51,616 of whom were lascar seamen (when World War I began).[181] Families with South Asian lascar fathers and white mothers established interracial communities in Britain's dock areas.[182] This led to a growing number of "mixed race" children being born in the country, which challenged the efforts of some to "define them using simple dichotomies of British versus Indian, ruler versus ruled."[151] The number of women of colour in Britain were often outnumbered by "half-caste Indian" daughters born from white mothers and Indian fathers.[183] In addition, a number of British officers who had Indian wives and Anglo-Indian children in British India often brought them over to Britain in the 19th century.[184]

Following World War I, there were significantly more females than males in Britain,[185] and there were increasing numbers of seamen from the Indian subcontinent, Arab World, Far East and Caribbean. Many of them intermarried and cohabited with local white females, which raised increasing concerns from a minority over miscegenation and led to a handful of race riots in at the time.[186] By World War II, any form of intimate relationship between a white woman and non-white man was considered offensive by a few.[185] A few concerns were voiced regarding white adolescent girls forming relationships with men of color, including South Asian seamen in the 1920s,[187] Muslim immigrants in the 1920s to 1940s,[185] African American GIs during World War II, Maltese and Cypriot cafe owners in the 1940s to 1950s, Caribbean immigrants in the 1950s to 1960s, and South Asian immigrants in the 1960s although the continuing record of mixed marriages and the later acceptance of successful mixed-race offspring in public and cultural life suggests tolerance at the time was the norm.

The first Chinese settlers were mainly Cantonese from south China some were also from Shanghai. The figures of Chinese for 1921 are 2,157 men and 262 women. Many Chinese men married British women while others remained single, possibly supporting a wife and family back home in China. During the second world war (1939–1945) another wave of Chinese seamen from Shanghai and of Cantonese origin married British women. Records show that about some 300 of these men had married British women and supported families.[188]

According to the UK 2001 census, black British males were around 50% more likely than black females to marry outside their race. British Chinese women (30%) were twice as likely as their male counterparts (15%) to marry someone from a different ethnic group. As of 2001, 2% of all marriages in the United Kingdom are inter-ethnic.[189]

In 1948, an international incident was created when the British government took exception to the "difficult problem"[190] of the marriage of Seretse Khama, kgosi (king) of the Bamangwato people of what was then the British Bechuanaland Protectorate, to an English woman, Ruth Williams, whom he had met while studying law in London. The interracial marriage sparked a furore among both the tribal elders of the Bamangwato and the apartheid government of South Africa. The latter objected to the idea of an interracial couple ruling just across their northern border, and exerted pressure to have Khama removed from his chieftainship. Britain’s Labour government, then heavily in debt from World War II, could not afford to lose cheap South African gold and uranium supplies. They also feared South Africa might take direct action against Bechuanaland, through economic sanctions or a military incursion.[191][192] The British government began a parliamentary enquiry into Khama’s fitness for the chieftainship. Though the investigation reported that he was eminently fit for the rule of Bechuanaland, "but for his unfortunate marriage",[193] the government ordered the report suppressed. (It would remain so for thirty years.) It exiled Khama and his wife from Bechuanaland in 1951. It was many years before the couple was allowed to live in Africa, and several more years before Khama became president of what is now Botswana. Their son Ian Khama is the president of that country.

Intercultural marriage complications

Oftentimes, couples in intercultural marriages face barriers that most married couples of the same culture are not exposed to. Intercultural marriages are often influenced by external factors that can create dissonance and disagreement in relationships.[194] Different cultures endure vastly diverse moral, ethical and value foundations that influence their perceptions of individual, family and societal lifestyle. When these foundations are operating alongside the foundation of different cultural roots, as in intercultural marriages, problems and disagreement oftentimes occur.[194] However, interracial marriages are not always intercultural marriages, as in some countries, such as the United States, people of different races can share the same cultural background.

Family and society

The most common external factors influencing intercultural relationships and marriages are the acceptance of the family and the society in which the couple lives.[194] Sometimes, the families of the partners display rejection, resistance, hostility and lack of acceptance for their kin’s partner.[194] Specific issues regarding the family; including generational gaps in ideology, and how the wedding will be held; which ties into how tradition will or will not be practiced. Many intercultural couples report conflict arising over issues of how to carry out child raising and religious worship as well. Dealing with racism from outside sources is also a common area of potential conflict.

Communication style

Intercultural couples may possess differing communication styles. Individuals from a high context culture are not verbally explicit in their communication behaviors.[195] These cultures typically consist of eastern world countries where collectivism and relational harmony underlie communication behavior. By contrast, individuals from a low context culture use direct obvious communication styles to convey information.[195] In situations where marriage occurs between two people from differing communication contextual backgrounds, conflict may arise from relational challenges posed by the underlying assumptions of high/low context cultures. Challenges posed by differing communication styles are common among intercultural marriage couples.[196] The longer the two individuals have existed in the current culture the less likely this is to pose an issue. If one or more partners within the marriage is relatively new to the dominant culture the likelihood for conflict to unfold on these bases increases.[196]


Intercultural couples tend to face hardships most within-culture relationships do not. Various resources which focus on conflict resolution of intercultural differences in marriage relationships have become available in the media. Specialized counseling and support groups have also become available to these couples. Conflict resolution and mediation of the infrastructural issues faced by intercultural couples leads to a broader understanding of culture and communication.[197]

Religious objections

Historical distrust of interracial marriage is as ancient as the Bible, which symbolically portrays the offspring of angels and human women (i.e. the Nephalim and the Elioud) as wicked (See Genesis 6:1–6; Book of Jubilees 7:21–25). Deuterocanonical books like the Book of Tobit from the intertestamentary period placed a high premium on marrying someone not only of the same race, but of the same tribe.

Interracial marriage benefits

It has been claimed by a limited number of scholars that diversity within a family system "enhances open communication for individuals to cultivate so they can have greater depth, and views of people within our world".[198]

See also


External links

  • A Black Nurse, a German Soldier and an Unlikely WWII Romance, The New York Timesde:Interkulturelle Ehe

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