Mestizo (/mɛˈstizoʊ/; Peninsular Spanish: [mesˈtiθo], Latin American Spanish: [mesˈtiso]) is a term traditionally used in Spain and Spanish America to mean a person of combined European and Amerindian descent, or someone who would have been deemed a Castizo (one European parent and one Mestizo parent) regardless if the person was born in Mexico or outside of Latin America. The term was used as an ethnic/racial category in the casta system that was in use during the Spanish Empire's control of their New World colonies.The term mestizaje, taking as its root mestizo or ""mixed"", is the Spanish word for the general process of mixing ancestries. In English the term is miscegenation.To avoid confusion with the original usage of the term mestizo, mixed people started to be referred to collectively as castas. During the colonial period, mestizos quickly became the majority group in much of the Spanish-speaking parts of Latin America, and when the colonies started achieving independence from Spain, the mestizo group often became dominant. In some Latin American countries, such as Mexico, the concept of the ""mestizo"" became central to the formation of a new independent identity that was neither wholly Spanish nor wholly indigenous, and the word mestizo acquired its current meaning of dual cultural heritage and descent.In colonial Venezuela, pardo was more commonly used instead of mestizo. Pardo means being mixed without specifying which mixture; it was used to describe anyone born in the Americas whose ancestry was a mixture of European, Amerindian, and Black African.In the Spanish system of racial hierarchy, the sistema de castas, mestizos/pardos, who formed the majority, had fewer rights than the minority elite European-born persons called peninsulares, and the minority white colonial-born whites criollo, but more rights than the now minority indios, negro and mulato populations.In colonial Brazil, the Portuguese-speaking part of Latin America, most of the non-slave population was mestiço (Portuguese spelling) in the original Iberian definition of the word (mixed). There was no descent-based casta system, and children of upper class white landlord males and female slaves would enjoy privileges higher than the ones given to the lower classes, such as formal education, though such cases were not so common and they tended to not inherit the property, generally given to the children of free women, who tended to be the legitimate ones in cases of concubinage (also a common practice, inherited from Amerindian and African customs).In the Philippines, which was a colony of Spain, the term mestizo came to refer to person with Filipino and any foreign ancestry.In Canada, the Métis people is a community composed of those who possess combined European (usually French, sometimes Scottish or English) and North American Amerindian ancestry.In Saint Barthélemy, the term mestizo refers to people of mixed European (usually French) and East Asian ancestry.