Spaniards in Mexico

Spanish Mexicans are citizens or residents of Mexico who identify as Spanish as a result of nationality or recent ancestry.[citation needed] Spanish immigration to Mexico began in the early 1500s and spans to the present day. The vast majority of Mexicans have at least partial Spanish ancestry and Mexicans of full or predominant Spanish ancestry make up close to half of the population.[2] There are three recognized large-scale Spanish immigration waves to the territory which is now Mexico: the first arrived during the colonial period, the second during the Porfiriato, the third after the Spanish Civil War and the fourth (and current) after the financial crisis of 2007–2008.

Spaniards in Mexico
Españoles en México
Flag of Spanish language (ES-MX).svg
Flags of Mexico and Spain
Total population
144.553 Spanish nationals (2020)[1]Note
About 70% - 80% of Mexican population. (~110.000.000 Mexicans)
Predominantly Roman Catholicism,
also Sephardic Judaism, Islam
Related ethnic groups
Mestizo Mexican, other Spanish diaspora

^ Note: 19,223 individuals were born in Spain, 100,067 in Mexico, 3,689 in other countries and 210 were n/a.

The first Spanish colonial settlement was established in February 1519 by 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 by 1521 had conquered the Aztec Empire.

Arrival of the SpanishEdit

Vasco de Quiroga, member of the second Audiencia and first bishop of Michoacán.

The social composition of late sixteenth century Spanish immigration included both common people, illiterates and aristocrats with titles of counts and marquises, all of which quickly dispersed over the territory. The enslavement of native populations and Africans, along with the discovery of new deposits of various minerals in the central and northern areas (from Sonora to the southern provinces of Mexico) created enormous wealth for the metropole, especially in the extraction of silver. The exploitation of mining wealth from the indigenous populations through the mechanism of colonialism allowed the Spanish to develop manufacturing and agriculture that turned the Bajío regions and the valleys of Mexico and Puebla into prosperous agricultural areas with incipient industrial activity for the colonists, but indigenous populations were decimated by European diseases and mistreatment from the Spanish as a direct result of this.

In the 16th century, following the colonization of most of the new continents, perhaps 240,000 Spaniards entered ports in the Americas. They were joined by 450,000 in the next century.[4] 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 the Americas.[5][6] At the end of the 16th century both commoner and aristocrat from Spain were migrating to Mexico. Also, a few Canarian families colonized parts of Mexico in the 17th century (as in the case of the Azuaje families) and when the Spanish crown encouraged Canarian colonization of the Americas through the Tributo de sangre (Blood Tribute) in the 18th century, many of them settled in Yucatán, where by the 18th century they controlled the trade network that distributed goods throughout the peninsula; their descendants are still counted among the most influential families of direct Spanish descent in Mexico. During the 20th century, another group of Canarians settled in Mexico in the early 1930s, and as with Galician and other Spanish immigrants of the time, there were high rates of illiteracy and impoverishment among them, but they adapted relatively quickly.


After the independence of Mexico and centuries of brutal colonial rule, an animosity emerged against Spanish people in the new nation; in August 1827 to 1834, by the decree issued during the government of Lorenzo de Zavala, that expelled many Spaniards from the State of Mexico and killed Spanish families. The state government, influenced by English masons or Yorkers, based on the Plan of Iguala and Treaty of Córdoba, liberated the state by stripping Spaniards of their haciendas, farms, ranches and properties.[7][8]

On December 20, 1827, state deputies repealed the Spanish expulsion law, and many Criollo families returned to their farms and ranches protected by state congressional deputies.[9] In the constitution of 1857, the ambiguities about Mexican citizens are removed, the Spaniards were recognized foreign people.[10]

Monument dedicated to the refugees of the Spanish Civil War in Veracruz, Veracruz.
Numerous Spanish children were sent to Mexico by their families to escape the Spanish Civil War. President Lázaro Cárdenas is pictured with a group in the bottom-left.
La Unió Catalanista de Mèxic, in 1953.

In the period 1850-1950, 3.5 million Spanish left for the Americas, and Mexico became one of the chief destinations, in 1876 Mexico establishes relationships with Spain; a second wave was particularly in the Northern region where president Porfirio Diaz started a campaign of European immigration to supply labor.[11] In 1910, there were 30,000 Spaniards in Mexico, they participated in economic activities as agricultural labors and trade in urban areas, they could not influence the country's political life.[10]

Most recent migrants came during the Spanish Civil War. More than 25,000 Spanish refugees settled in Mexico between 1939 and 1942, largely during the administration of President Lazaro Cardenas del Río. Some of the migrants returned to Spain after the civil war, but many more remained in Mexico.[12]

The Children of Morelia was formed in 1937 by 456 Spanish children, Republican's sons, which were brought from Spain in the vapor ship with French flag named Mexique, at the request of the Mexican Assistance Committee by Pueblo Spanish, based in Barcelona city. This children were received by Mexican President Lázaro Cardenas del Río.

Of these refugees is named as soon as "intellectual immigration" or "elite" was made up of approximately 25% of the total. It also notes that also came in greater numbers "factory workers and peasants" as well as soldiers, sailors and pilots, statesmen, economists, and businessmen, all linked to the Republican government defeated in war.[13]

Due to the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and the resulting economic decline and high unemployment in Spain, many Spaniards emigrated to Mexico to seek new opportunities.[14] For example, during the last quarter of 2012, 7,630 work permits were granted to Spaniards.[15]

Economic and social issuesEdit

Fuente de Cibeles in Mexico City.

The actual Spanish community in Mexico is integrated principally by business men, business women, actors, actresses, academics, artists and professional students, Mexico is now an important country by inversions in Latin America,[16] when last time was poor people named gachupines or refugiados (war refugees). Now many Spaniards are owners of restaurants, department stores, supermarkets, bank institutions, luxury hotels, motels, gourmet bakeries, stationeries, ultramarine stores, trip agencies, building companies, textile factories, gas stations, iron factories, fashion houses, architecture studios, engineer offices, transport services, also private schools and universities, and cultural institutes as Intituto Cervantes, Casa de España or Ateneo Español.

Discrimination and stereotypesEdit

Cartoon with Spanish people in Mexico City.

Hispanophobia began to be introduced as part of the Mexican education system during the presidency of Lazaro Cardenas. Through an effort of nation building, the leftist government began identifying with the Aztec civilization rather than the Spaniards. Key figures of Mexican history such as Hernan Cortes were demonized and a generally negative perspective of the Spanish conquest became official history.

The word gachupín is used for Spaniards who live in Mexico and Guatemala[17] as a slur, referring to conquistadors and people from Spain.[18] Official history says Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla mentioned in the Grito de Dolores; Mueran los gachupines, (Death to the gachupines!).[19][20]

Diego Rivera was a Mexican painter, who caused controversy with a mural named La leyenda negra de la Conquista (The black legend of Conquest), painted between 1929 and 1930, he was accused of Hispanophobia creating diplomatic conflicts between Mexican government with Spanish government.[21]

There are many stereotypes of Spaniards in Mexico. Some cultural symbols are the Barb horse and boina (a Spanish beret). When Spanish people are depicted in many Mexican newspapers, they are shown smoking habanos (Cuban cigars) and drinking wine.[citation needed]


Important Spanish schools remain in Mexico, such as Colegio Madrid of Mexico City, a scholarly institute founded in 1941 by Spanish immigrants and Mexican teachers. This is a private school for elementary education.[22]

The Colegio de México (Colmex) was an organization of Spanish civil war exiles called firstly "Casa de España en México" (House of Spain in Mexico). In 1939, Alfonso Reyes would be president of the "Colegio" until his death. Historian Daniel Cosío Villegas played an important role in its institutionalization and the Colegio's library bears his name.

Spanish culture in MexicoEdit

Mexico is the largest and perhaps most culturally influential country in the Hispanosphere. Its culture is overwhelmingly derived from the Spanish founders and settlers of New Spain which would eventually become the modern day Republic of Mexico.

Jocs florals de la llengua catalana was a Catalan publication, printed in Mexico City.
Charrería is a Mexican sport with Spanish origins (Santiago Tequixquiac fair).
Bullfighting in San Marcos festival of Aguascalientes City.
The estudiantina in Cervantino festival of Guanajuato City.


Spanish was brought to Mexico around 500 years ago, although Nahuatl remained the official language for much of the colonial period. As a result of prolonged and mass immigration, many urban centers were predominantly populated by Spaniards by the early 19th century. 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.

During the Spanish Exile, the Catalan language was expressed by writers and poets in Mexico, the Orfeó Català de Mèxic was a mecca for Catalan speakers and artists.[23][24]


Charreria, a word encompassing all aspects of the art, evolved from the traditions that came to Mexico from Salamanca, Spain in the 16th century. When the Spanish first settled in Colonial Mexico, they were under orders to raise horses named criollos (Spanish people), but not to allow the indigenous people to ride. However, by 1528 the Spanish had very large cattle-raising estates and found it necessary to employ indigenous people as vaqueros or Criole herdsman, who soon became excellent horsemen. Smaller landholders, known as rancheros or ranchers, were the first genuine charros and they are credited as the inventors of the charreada.[25]


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.[26]

Holy weekEdit

Holy week is a Spanish tradition represented in many Mexican cities as San Luis Potosí City, Taxco de Alarcón or Morelia, this religious representation is very similar to Sevilla Holy week procession o Semana Mayor from other Spanish cities.[citation needed].

Spanish place names in MexicoEdit

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

Principal areas of settlementEdit

The Asturians are a very large community that has a long history in Mexico, dating from colonial times to the present.[27] 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 Mexico Valley, Puebla-Veracruz region, Bajío region, Guadalajara Valley, Altos de Jalisco, Northern region and Riviera Maya, where they make up the largest proportion of the Spanish population. Large populations are found in the states like Mexico City, Mexico State, Veracruz, Puebla, Jalisco, Nuevo León, Aguascalientes, Durango, Guanajuato, Querétaro, and Chihuahua.[citation needed] Also, Northern Mexico is inhabited by many millions of Spanish descendants.[citation needed] Some states like Zacatecas, Sinaloa, Baja California, Sonora, San Luis Potosí and Tamaulipas.

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.

Mexico CityEdit

Centro Gallego de México in Mexico City.
Old Centro Asturiano de México in Mexico City.
Centro Gallego de México in Sebastián de Aparicio Romería, Puebla City.
Flamenco dance in ITESM Mexico City.

Mexico City has the biggest Spanish population in the country, in this city are all the Spanish institutions as Embassy of Spain, cultural centers as soon as Centro Asturiano, Centro Gallego, Casa de Madrid, Casa de Andalucía, Centro Montañes, Orfeo Catalán de Mexico, Centro Vasco, Centro Canario, Centro Republicano Español, Ateneo Español, Casino Español, Asociación Valenciana, Centro Castellano, and health institutions as the Beneficiencia Española, Hospital Español and Hospital-ito.[28]

Also in Mexico City stay important Spanish schools and universities as Colegio Madrid, Universidad Iberoamericana, Colegio de México and Universidad Anahuac.

Puebla CityEdit

Puebla City is the other biggest Spanish population in Mexico, here is Parque España, an interesting social community and school from Spaniards and Spanish Mexicans descendants.

The Centro Gallego de México makes a Beato Sebastián de Aparicio romería to Puebla City each year, this event is an interesting Galician community with Folk music and Galician dances outside the Old San Francisco convento to Downtown Puebla de Zaragoza, Puebla State.

Veracruz CityEdit

Veracruz City is the first biggest Spanish population in Mexico, interesting social community, and schools, universities, health institutes from Spaniards and Spanish Mexicans descendants. All times always, in Veracruz City there are Spanish communities in the commerce, factory, nave shipping companies, and education.


Spanish descendants make up the largest group of Europeans in Mexico and a majority of Mexicans have some degree of Spanish descent. Most of their ancestors arrived during the colonial period but further hundreds of thousands have since then immigrated, especially during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.[29] According to CIA World Factbook, whites make up 10% of Mexico's population.[30] The Encyclopædia Britannica states those of predominantly European descent make up closer to one-sixth (≈17%) of the Mexican population.[31]

Spaniards in Mexico
Year Residents
2010 77,069 (INE)[32]
2011 86,658 (INE)[33]
2012 94.617 (INE)[34]
2013 100.782 (INE)[35]
2014 108,314 (INE)[36]
2015 115,620 (INE)[37]
2016 123,189 (INE)[38]
2017 130,832 (INE)[39]
2018 135,155 (INE)[40]
2019 140,199 (INE)[41]
2020 144,553 (INE)[42]

Notable peopleEdit

Spaniards who settled in MexicoEdit

Mexicans with Spanish originsEdit

Mexicans with Sephardic originsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Estadística del Padrón de Españoles Residentes en el Extranjero (PERE) a 1 de enero de 2020" (PDF). Instituto Nacional de Estadística. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Mexico - History, Geography, Facts, & Points of Interest". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  3. ^ Bernard Grunberg, "La folle aventure d'Hernán Cortés", in L'Histoire n°322, July–August 2007
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Emperadores". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  6. ^ Anne. "Extremadura, Spain - Accommodation and Travel Guide - Hotels & Paradores - Rural Tourism". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  7. ^ Estado de México, Textos de su historia, Institute Mora, Mexico State government, Toluca, 1996. pp. 227-230.
  8. ^ Los españoles en el México Independiente Colegio de México, pp. 624-627
  9. ^ Estado de México, Textos de su historia, Institute Mora, Mexico State government, Toluca, 1996. pp.230.
  10. ^ a b Los españoles en el México Independiente Colegio de México, pp. 620-622
  11. ^ Patricia Rivas. "Reconocerán nacionalidad española a descendientes de exiliados :: YVKE Mundial". Archived from the original on 2011-01-05. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
  12. ^ Díaz, Carlos Tello. "Exilio español en México". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  13. ^ "Exilio Espanol Exhibition" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  14. ^ "As Spain's Economy Worsens, Young Adults Flock to Mexico for Jobs - New America Media". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  15. ^ Flannery, Nathaniel Parish. "As Spain Falters, Spaniards Look to Latin America". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  16. ^ Grupo Milenio España el mayor inversor de México, January 17, 2017.
  17. ^ "gachupín". Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Los nuevos gachupines - La mirada en la lengua". Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  19. ^ "El Grito de Hidalgo fue contra 'los gachupines' [Independencia - 15/09/2012 - Periódico Zócalo". Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  20. ^ "Gachupines". 14 July 2009. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  21. ^ La utopia de forjar una sola raza para la nación, González Salinas, Omar Fabián, Historia Y MEMORIA magazine, 2016, number 13, p. 320, Tunja, Colombia.
  22. ^ "Colegio Madrid, A.C. - Historia". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  23. ^ "Els Jocs Florals de la Llengua Catalana a l'exili (1941-1977) - CRAI UB". Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  24. ^ "Historia". Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-08-16. Retrieved 2011-09-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2008-05-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ Economía UNAM Los asturianos y la modernización commercial de México y España en el siglo XX, 2005.
  28. ^ Un pedazo de España en México Centro histórico, January 17, 2017.
  29. ^ "New America Media". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  30. ^ CIA World Factbook. See also White Latin American for external sources.
  31. ^ "Mexico - History, Geography, Facts, & Points of Interest". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  32. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  33. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2011" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  34. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2012" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  35. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2013" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  36. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  37. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2015" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  38. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2016" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  39. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2017" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  40. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2018" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  41. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2019" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  42. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2020" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-08-28.

Further readingEdit

  • Altman, Ida. Transatlantic Ties in the Spanish Empire: Brihuega, Spain, and Puebla, Mexico, 1560-1620. Stanford University Press, 2000.
  • Fagen, Patricia W. Exiles and citizens: Spanish republicans in Mexico. Vol. 29. University of Texas Press, 2014.
  • Faber, Sebastiaan. Exile and cultural hegemony: Spanish intellectuals in Mexico, 1939-1975. Vanderbilt University Press, 2002.
  • Kenny, Michael. "Twentieth-century Spanish Expatriates in Mexico: an urban Sub-culture." Anthropological Quarterly 35.4 (1962): 169-180.
  • Powell, Thomas G. Mexico and the Spanish Civil War. University of New Mexico Press, 1981.
  • Rickett, Rosy. "Refugees of the Spanish Civil War and those they left behind: personal testimonies of departure, separation and return since 1936." Diss. The University of Manchester (United Kingdom), 2015.
  • Smith, Lois Elwyn. Mexico and the Spanish republicans. Vol. 4. University of California Press, 1955.

External linksEdit