The Portuguese have become a prime target for accusations of large-scale intermarriage with African slaves, with their decline as a country attributed to this. While it's true that they have more sub-Saharan admixture than any population in Europe, it's still far too little to have altered their racial composition. And the notion that race-mixing causes cultural decay is unsupported by any scientific evidence, much less by Portugal, which is in fact experiencing a recovery following decades of authoritarian rule.


"Many Portuguese males were leaving the country for the colonies, for Brasil especially, and the population of the nation dwindled to 1.5 million. A labour force was needed to work the farms, and since black Africans had begun to be imported in 1441 as domestic servants, this influx continued in numbers such that by 1550, the towns of Evora and Lisbon had a 10-percent black population. This lot of African slaves was not a happy one, and the black females were not afforded the same protection as the white slaves obtained through earlier conquests were. Consequently, young mestiço girls of mixed descent became prized as mistresses, though not necessarily as wives.

"The mortality rate amongst the slaves was high, as they were not afforded proper medical attention. A large number, since they were already familiar with Portuguese culture and the language, were subsequently deported to Brasil, where their presence was needed far more than in Portugal itself. Manumission was possible, and many chose to flee the country upon being freed. However, a portion did remain in Portugal, and miscegenation meant that within a dozen or so generations, a considerable number of the 35,000 black Africans who had once lived in Portugal were blended into the mainstream of the Portuguese population. This sort of thing was not peculiar to Portugal alone; in fact, it occurred in nearly all of the slave-owning European nations, including Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Britain. The percentage of blacks was highest for Portugal, but the actual numerical figure was higher for Britain. However, in no nation in Europe (including Portugal) was the absorption of blacks significant enough to change the ethnography of the country."

"The influence of the Negroes, however, has been grossly exaggerated, with figures such as '100,000 in the sixteenth century' or '10 percent of the nation's population in the year 1600' being severely inflated. What can be truthfully said is that during the slave trade, a few tens of thousands of Negroes were brought to the metropolis of Lisboa. From there many were shipped to Brasil or to other European countries. Those who remained in Portugal were either sold to wealthy city-dwelling Portuguese, or distributed to the owners of large plantations in the south to provide farm labour, where almost all who survived eventually were absorbed by the population, leaving no trace whatever ... Lisboa has been a magnet for Negroes from the colonies as well, and Negroid features seen in a few seemingly Caucasoid individuals are certainly the result of miscegenation between colonial Negroes and the Portuguese; these traits are not present in the native Portuguese population."

"Non-Mediterranean elements in the Portuguese population are rare and of little importance. A few Nordics are scattered throughout but are particularly concentrated in the north. Traces of Dinaric blood, as we have already seen, may likewise be found on the northern coast. ... On the whole, the absorption of Negroes by the Portuguese has had no appreciable effect on the racial composition of the country. Portugal remains, as it has been since the days of the Muge shell-fish eaters, classic Mediterranean territory."


In a sample of 542 Portuguese people from all over the country, sub-Saharan mtDNA L sequences were detected at a frequency of ~5% (2.2 in the North, 4.3 in the Center, and 8.6 in the South). This gives the Portuguese an estimated total of 2.5% Negroid ancestry, which ranges from a comparatively large, but not racially significant, 4.3% in the South to a tiny 1.1% in the North.

(González et al. 2003)

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In a sample of 328 Northern and 57 Southern Portuguese, no Y-chromosomes of sub-Saharan African origin were detected. Another study found 3 E(xE3b) sequences in a sample of 99 Portuguese, evenly divided between Northerners and Southerners. The estimated grand total of Negroid paternal admixture in Portugal is therefore 0.6%.
(Rosser et al. 2000; Cruciani et al. 2004)
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While the Portuguese have more autosomal admixture than other Europeans, it's still extremely low:

Economics and
"In the last forty years, the Portuguese economy exhibited an outstanding growth performance. ... After a secular trend of divergence, [it] appears to have engaged in a convergence track towards the industrialised world. With real per capita GDP growing at an average rate of 4% per annum in the period 1960-1992, Portugal is ranked 11th in a sample of 119 countries. ... [P]er capita GDP, in current PPS3, rose from 41.5% of the EU average in 1960 to 73.8% in 2000. The evolution was not uniform along time. As shown...the relative income gap has widened during the oil shock period (1973-85)."
(Lebre de Freitas, 2001)
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"Only in the mid-1960s did the country make public education available for all children between the ages of six and twelve. ... Portuguese primary school enrollments were close to 100 percent in the early 1990s, and immense strides had been made in eliminating illiteracy, especially among the young, and an estimated literacy rate of 85 percent was achieved among those over age fifteen in 1990." (According to The World Factbook, by 2003, Portugal's literacy rate had climbed to 93.3%, or 95.5% for males.)

Racial Types

Small Mediterranean (Beira Alta)

Atlanto-Mediterranean (Azer)

Exotic Nordic (Trá
(Coon, 1939)

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Related Topics

Refuting Arthur Kemp: Challenging a Nordicist's misinformation and lies about Portugal.

Sickle Cell: Not a tracer of African ancestry.

Skin Color: Effects of sun-adaptation and tanning on Southern Europeans.

Spaniards: The similar racial make-up of the populations of Spain.

Hispanics: Not a race but an ethnicity composed of the three primary human races.