Spanish immigration to Mexico

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Spanish Mexicans
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Total population
(115,620 Spanish nationals, 17.837 born in Spain (2015).[1])
Predominantly Roman Catholicism,
also Sephardic Judaism
Related ethnic groups
Spanish diaspora
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Spanish Mexicans are Mexicans who self-identify with being Spanish and ancestry from Spain.

Spanish immigration to Mexico began in 1519 and spans to the present day.[2] The first Spanish settlement was established in February 1519, as a result of the landing of Hernán Cortés in the Yucatan Peninsula, accompanied by about 11 ships, 500 men, 13 horses and a small number of cannons.[3] In March 1519, Cortés formally claimed the land for the Spanish crown, and the conquest of the Aztec Empire, a key event in the Spanish conquest of modern-day Mexico in general, was completed in 1521.

Arrival of the Spanish

The social composition of this immigration of the late sixteenth century included both common people, illiterates, and aristocrats with titles of counts and marquises, all of which quickly disintegrated over the territory. The discovery of new deposits of various minerals in the central and northern areas (from Sonora to the southern provinces of Mexico) allowed New Spain to gradually occupy a privileged position, especially in the extraction of silver. Mining allowed the development of associated activities such as manufacturing and agriculture, that turned the Bajío regions or the valleys of Mexico and Puebla into prosperous agricultural regions with incipient industrial activity.

Spanish culture in Mexico


Spanish was brought to Mexico around 500 years ago. As a result of Mexico City's central role in the colonial administration of New Spain, the population of the city included relatively large numbers of speakers from Spain. Mexico City (Tenochtitlán) had also been the capital of the Aztec Empire, and many speakers of the Aztec language Nahuatl continued to live there and in the surrounding region, outnumbering the Spanish-speakers for several generations. Consequently, Mexico City tended historically to exercise a standardizing effect over the entire country, more or less, evolving into a distinctive dialect of Spanish which incorporated a significant number of hispanicized Nahuatl words.


Bullfighting arrived in Mexico with the first Spaniards and the rest of Latin America in the 16th century. Records are found of the first bullfights debuted in Mexico on June 26, 1526, with a bullfight in Mexico City held in honor of explorer Hernán Cortés, who had just come back from Honduras (then known as Las Hibueras). From that point on, bullfights were staged all over Mexico as part of various civic, social and religious celebrations. Today, there are about 220 permanent bullrings throughout Mexico with the largest venue of its kind is the Plaza de toros México in central Mexico City which opened in 1946 and seats 48,000 people.[4]

Spanish place names in Mexico

There are hundreds of places in Mexico named after places in Spain or have Spanish names due to the Spanish colonialism, Spanish settlers and explorers. These include:

Immigration waves

File:Los niños de Morelia. Niños españoles que encontraron en México un hogar.JPG
Numerous Spanish children were sent to Mexico by their famalies to escape the Spanish Civil War. President Lázaro Cárdenas is pictured with a group in the bottom-left.
Monument dedicated to the refugees of the Spanish Civil War in Veracruz, Veracruz.

In the 16th century, following the military conquest of most of the new continent, perhaps 240,000 Spaniards entered American ports. They were joined by 450,000 in the next century.[5] Since the conquest of Mexico, this region became the principal destination of Spanish colonial settlers in the 16th century. The first Spaniards who arrived in Mexico were soldiers and sailors from Extremadura, Andalucía and La Mancha after the conquest of America.[6][7] At the end of the 16th century both commoner and aristocrat from Spain were migrating to Mexico.

In the period 1850-1950, 3.5 million Spanish left for the Americas, and Mexico became one of the chief destinations, particularly the Northern region where Porfirio Diaz started a campaign of European immigration to supply labor.[8]

Most recent migrants came during the Spanish Civil War. More than 100,000 Spanish refugees settled in Mexico during this era. Some of the migrants returned to Spain after the civil war, but many more remained in Mexico[citation needed].

Due to the 2008 Financial Crisis and the resulting economic decline and high unemployment in Spain, many Spaniards have been emigrating to Mexico to seek new opportunities.[9] For example, during the last quarter of 2012, a number of 7,630 work permits were granted to Spaniards.[10]

The Asturians are a very large community that have a long history in Mexico, dating from colonial times to the present. There are about 42,000 people of Asturian birth in Mexico[citation needed]. The Catalans are also very numerous in Mexico. According to sources from the Catalan community, there are approximately 12,000 Catalan-born around the country.[citation needed]. There are also as many as 8,500 Basques[citation needed], 6,000 Galicians[citation needed], and 1,600 Canary Islanders[citation needed].


The largest population of Spanish descent are located in the Northern region, where they make up the largest proportion of the population. Large populations are found in the states like Sinaloa, Jalisco, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Durango, Guanajuato, Mexico City, Puebla, and Veracruz.[citation needed] Also, Northern Mexico is inhabited by many millions of Spanish descendants.[citation needed] Some states like Zacatecas, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Sonora, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, have those of Spanish descent as the majority of the population.[citation needed]

As the Spanish royal Government doted the New Spain from Kingdoms and Territories, a great part of them followed names. So we can find lots of Basque criollos in Durango and Southern Chihuahua as those territories were part of the Kingdom of New Vizcay, Galician descendants in Jalisco being part of the Kingdom of New Galicia.


The charrería, a Mexican sport with Spanish origins

Spanish descendants make up the largest group of Europeans in Mexico.[citation needed] Most of their ancestors arrived during the colonial period but a further hundreds of thousands have since then immigrated, especially during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.[11] According to CIA World Factbook, whites make up 10% of Mexico's population.[12] The Encyclopædia Britannica states those of predominantly European descent make up closer to one-sixth (≈17%) of the Mexican population.[13]

See also


  1. "Estadística del Padrón de Españoles Residentes en el Extranjero a 1 de enero de 2015" (PDF). Instituto Nacional de Estadística. Retrieved 26 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Bernard Grunberg, "La folle aventure d'Hernán Cortés", in L'Histoire n°322, July–August 2007
  5. Axtell, James (September–October 1991). "The Columbian Mosaic in Colonial America". Humanities. 12 (5): 12–18. Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Patricia Rivas. "Reconocerán nacionalidad española a descendientes de exiliados :: YVKE Mundial". Retrieved 2010-07-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. CIA World Factbook. See also White Latin American for external sources.