Spaniards in Mexico

Spanish Mexicans are citizens or residents of Mexico who identify as Spanish as a result of nationality or recent ancestry. 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; the Northern regions of Mexico have a higher prevalence of Spanish heritage.[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 and the third after the Spanish Civil War.

Spaniards in Mexico
Españoles en México
Retrato de familia Fagoga Arozqueta - Anónimo ca.1730.jpg
Fagoaga Arozqueta Basque family who migrated to Mexico City
Total population
20,763 Spaniards (born in Spain) 144.553 Spanish nationals (2020)[1]Note
About 85% of Mexican population is of at least partial Spanish descent. (~100.000.000 Mexicans)
Predominantly Roman Catholicism,
also Sephardic Judaism, Islam
Related ethnic groups
Mestizo Mexican, other Spanish diaspora

^ Note: 20,763 individuals were born in Spain, 100,067 in Mexico, 3,689 in other countries and 210 were n/a.

The first Spanish 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 secured the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire.

Spanish colonizationEdit

Vasco de Quiroga, member of the second Audiencia and first Bishop of Michoacán.
Hernán Cortés led the Spanish occupation of Mexico.

The social composition of late sixteenth century Spanish immigration included both common people and aristocrats, all of which dispersed across New Spain. The enslavement of native populations and Africans, along with the discovery of new deposits of various minerals in the central and northern areas (from present day Sonora to the southern provinces of Mexico) created enormous wealth for Spain, especially in the extraction of silver.[citation needed] 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 the Aztec Empire, 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, animosity emerged against Spanish people in the new nation. From August 1827 to 1834, by a decree issued during the government of Lorenzo de Zavala, many Spaniards and their families were expelled from the State of Mexico and killed. 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, and Spaniards were recognized as foreign people.[10]

Tribute statue to the refugees of 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, with Mexico becoming one of the chief destinations, especially its northern region where president Porfirio Diaz encouraged European immigration in order to supply labor.[citation needed] In 1910, there were 30,000 Spaniards in Mexico, with many participating in economic activities as agricultural labor and trade in urban areas. However, because they proportionally only made up .02% of the population in Mexico at the time, 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.[11]

The "Children of Morelia" were 456 children of Spanish Republicans, which were brought from Spain in 1937 on a steamship named Mexique which flew under a French flag, at the request of the Mexican Assistance Committee by Pueblo Spanish, based in Barcelona. This children were received by Mexican President Lázaro Cardenas del Río.[citation needed]

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.[12] For example, during the last quarter of 2012, 7,630 work permits were granted to Spaniards.[13]

Economic and social issuesEdit

Fuente de Cibeles (Avenida de los Insurgentes) in Mexico City, an exact copy of Fuente de Cibeles in Madrid, Spain's capital.

The Spanish community in Mexico includes business people, entertainers, academics, artists, and professional students. According to Milenio, Spanish companies are the largest foreign investors in Mexico.[14]


Cartoon about Spanish Civil War refugees in Mexico City.

Hispanophobia began during the Spanish Civil War because of the influx of Spanish immigrants in the country during Lázaro Cárdenas’ presidency, which caused a change in the Mexican education system. Through an effort of nation building, the government began identifying with the Aztec civilization rather than the Spaniards. Key figures of Mexican history such as Hernán Cortés were demonized and a generally negative perspective of the Spanish conquest became official history.[citation needed]

The word gachupín is used for Spaniards who live in Mexico and Guatemala[15] as a slur, referring to conquistadors and people from Spain.[16] Official history says Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla mentioned in the Grito de Dolores; Mueran los gachupines (Death to gachupines!).[17][18]

Diego Rivera caused controversy with his mural Historia del estado de Morelos, conquista y revolución (The History of the State of Morelos, Conquest and Revolution), painted between 1929 and 1930. He was accused of Hispanophobia and his mural created a diplomatic conflict between the Mexican and Spanish governments. Upon being asked about criticisms of his mural, Rivera only replied “¡ya apareció el gachupín!” ("here's the gachupín").[19]

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.[20]

The Colegio de México (Colmex) was an organization of Spanish Civil War exiles beginning as "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.[citation needed] 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 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.

Many Catalans fleeing Francoist Spain immigrated to Mexico, where they were free to express the Catalan language. The Orfeó Català de Mèxic was a mecca for Catalan speakers and artists.[21][22]


Charrería, a word encompassing all aspects of the art of raising horses, 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 Creole 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.[23]


Bullfighting arrived in Mexico with the first Spaniards. 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.[24]

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.[25] 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.[citation needed] 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.

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.[26]

Also in Mexico City is home to important Spanish schools and universities such as the Colegio Madrid, Universidad Iberoamericana, Colegio de México, and Universidad Anahuac.

Puebla CityEdit

Puebla City is the other major Spanish population in Mexico.[citation needed] The Parque España, a social community and school founded by Spaniards and Spanish Mexicans descendants, is found in the city.

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.


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.[27] According to CIA World Factbook, people of full or predominant European descent make up 10% of Mexico's population.[citation needed] The Encyclopædia Britannica states those of predominantly European descent make up closer to one-sixth (≈17%) of the Mexican population.[28]

Spaniards in Mexico
Year Residents
2010 77,069 (INE)[29]
2011 86,658 (INE)[30]
2012 94.617 (INE)[31]
2013 100.782 (INE)[32]
2014 108,314 (INE)[33]
2015 115,620 (INE)[34]
2016 123,189 (INE)[35]
2017 130,832 (INE)[36]
2018 135,155 (INE)[37]
2019 140,199 (INE)[38]
2020 144,553 (INE)[39]

Notable peopleEdit

Spaniards who settled in MexicoEdit

Luis Buñuel, director and film producer.
Sara Montiel, actress.
Luis Regueiro, soccer player.
Martí Ventolrà, soccer player.
Gaspar Rubio, soccer player.
Carlos Mouriño, businessman.
Joaquín López-Doriga, TV anchorman.
Paco Ignacio Taibo II, writer and politician.
Anna Ciocchetti, actress.
Lisardo, actor.
Belinda Peregrín, singer and actress.

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. ^ Díaz, Carlos Tello. "Exilio español en México". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  12. ^ "As Spain's Economy Worsens, Young Adults Flock to Mexico for Jobs - New America Media". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  13. ^ Flannery, Nathaniel Parish. "As Spain Falters, Spaniards Look to Latin America". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  14. ^ Navarrette, Georgina. "España es el mayor inversor de México". Milenio. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  15. ^ "gachupín". Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  16. ^ "Los nuevos gachupines - La mirada en la lengua". Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  17. ^ "El Grito de Hidalgo fue contra 'los gachupines' [Independencia - 15/09/2012 - Periódico Zócalo". Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Gachupines". 14 July 2009. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  19. ^ González Salinas, Omar Fabián (2016). "La utopía de forjar una sola raza para la nación. Mestizaje, indigenismo e hispanolia en el México posrevolucionario" (PDF). Revista Historia y Memoria (in Spanish). Tunja, Colombia. 13: 320. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  20. ^ "Colegio Madrid, A.C. - Historia". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  21. ^ "Els Jocs Florals de la Llengua Catalana a l'exili (1941-1977) - CRAI UB". Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  22. ^ "Historia". Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-08-16. Retrieved 2011-09-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2008-05-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ Economía UNAM Los asturianos y la modernización commercial de México y España en el siglo XX, 2005.
  26. ^ Un pedazo de España en México Centro histórico, January 17, 2017.
  27. ^ "New America Media". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  28. ^ "Mexico - History, Geography, Facts, & Points of Interest". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  29. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  30. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2011" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  31. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2012" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  32. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2013" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  33. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  34. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2015" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  35. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2016" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  36. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2017" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  37. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2018" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  38. ^ "Inmigrantes españoles INE 2019" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-03-21.
  39. ^ "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