How many major races are there in the world?

The word “race,” denoting lineage, comes from a French translation of haras (silent “h”) into the Italian razza — which in Italian of that time applied to animals, not people. This points to current English and Italian usage being derived and adapted, respectively, from the French.

A human race is defined as a group of people with certain common inherited features that distinguish them from other groups of people. All men of whatever race are currently classified by the anthropologist or biologist as belonging to the one species, Homo sapiens.This is another way of saying that the differences between human races are not great, even though they may appear so, i.e. black vs white skin. All races of mankind in the world can interbreed because they have so much in common. All races share 99.99+% of the same genetic materials which means that division of race is largely subjective, and that the original 3-5 races were also probably just subjective descriptions as well.

The Major Divisions of the Human Race

Most anthropologists recognize 3 or 4 basic races of man in existence today. These races can be further subdivided into as many as 30 subgroups.

Ethnographic division into races from Meyers Konversationslexikon of 1885-90 is listing:

  • Caucasian races (Aryans, Hamites, Semites)
  • Mongolian races (northern Mongolian, Chinese and Indo-Chinese, Japanese and Korean, Tibetan, Malayan, Polynesian, Maori, Micronesian, Eskimo, American Indian),
  • Negroid races (African, Hottentots, Melanesians/Papua, “Negrito”, Australian Aborigine, Dravidians, Sinhalese)

Skull: Dolicephalic(Long-Head),High forehead,Little supraobital development.
Face: Mainly Leptoproscopic( Narrow)Sometimes Meso- or even Euryproscopic, Neither Facial nor alveolar prognathism occurs except among some archaic peoples.
Nose:Long,narrow,high in both root and bridge.

Skull: High incidence of Brachycephaly(Short Round Head)
American Indians while Mongoloid are often Dolicephalic.
Foreheads slightly lower than that of the Caucasoid.
No Supraobital development.
Face: Wide and short, projecting cheek bones, Prognathism rare. Shovel shaped incisors common especialy in Asia.
Nose: Mesorine(Low and Broad in both root and bridge.

Skull: usually Dolicephalic, a small minority are Brachycephalic.
Forehead most often high, little supraobital development.
Face: Leproscopic (to a much lesser degree than the Caucasion), Prognathism common in most Negro populations.
Nose: Low & broad in root and bridge with characteristic depression at root.

Another popular division recognizes 4 major races

The world population can be divided into 4 major races, namely white/Caucasian, Mongoloid/Asian, Negroid/Black, and Australoid. This is based on a racial classification made by Carleton S. Coon in 1962. There is no universally accepted classification for “race”, however, and its use has been under fire over the last few decades. The United Nations, in a 1950 statement, opted to “drop the term ‘race’ altogether and speak of “ethnic groups”. In this case, there are more than 5,000 ethnic groups in the world, according to a 1998 study published in the Scientific American.

What is Race?

What is Race? When some people use the “race” they attach a biological meaning, still others use “race” as a socially constructed concept.  It is clear that even though race does not have a biological meaning, it does have a social meaning which has been legally constructed.

Biological Construction

By . . .”biological race,” I mean the view of race espoused by Judge Tucker, and still popular today, that there exist natural, physical divisions among humans that are hereditary, reflected in morphology, and roughly but correctly captured by terms like Black, White, and Asian (or Negroid, Caucasoid, and Mongoloid). Under this view, one’s ancestors and epidermis ineluctably determine membership in a genetically defined racial group. The connection between human physiognomy and racial status is concrete; in Judge Tucker’s words, every individual’s race has been “stampt” by nature. . . .Despite the prevalent belief in biological races, overwhelming evidence proves that race is not biological. Biological races like Negroid and Caucasoid simply do not exist. A newly popular argument among several scholars, is that races are wholly illusory, whether as a biological or social concept. Under this thinking, if there is no natural link between faces and races, then no connection exists.

There are no genetic characteristics possessed by all Blacks but not by non- Blacks; similarly, there is no gene or cluster of genes common to all Whites but not to non-Whites. One’s race is not determined by a single gene or gene cluster, as is, for example, sickle cell anemia. Nor are races marked by important differences in gene frequencies, the rates of appearance of certain gene types. The data compiled by various scientists demonstrates, contrary to popular opinion, that intra-group differences exceed inter-group differences. That is, greater genetic variation exists within the populations typically labeled Black and White than between these populations. This finding refutes the supposition that racial divisions reflect fundamental genetic differences.

Notice this does not mean that individuals are genetically indistinguishable from each other, or even that small population groups cannot be genetically differentiated. Small populations, for example the Xhosa or the Basques, share similar gene frequencies. However, differentiation is a function of separation, usually geographic, and occurs in gradations rather than across fractures.. .. . .   The notion that humankind can be divided along White, Black, and Yellow lines reveals the social rather than the scientific origin of race. The idea that there exist three races, and that these races are “Caucasoid,” “Negroid,” and “Mongoloid,” is rooted in the European imagination of the Middle Ages, which encompassed only Europe, Africa, and the Near East.. . Nevertheless, the history of science has long been the history of failed efforts to justify these social beliefs. Along the way, various minds tried to fashion practical human typologies along the following physical axes: skin color, hair texture, facial angle, jaw size, cranial capacity, brain mass, frontal lobe mass, brain surface fissures and convolutions, and even body lice. As one scholar notes, “[t]he nineteenth century was a period of exhaustive and–as it turned out–futile search for criteria to define and describe race differences.”. . . Attempts to define racial categories by physical attributes ultimately failed. By 1871, some leading intellectuals had recognized that even using the word “race” “was virtually a confession of ignorance or evil intent.” The genetic studies of the last few decades have only added more nails to the coffin of biological race. Evidence shows that those features usually coded to race, for example, stature, skin color, hair texture, and facial structure, do not correlate strongly with genetic variation. . .  The rejection of race in science is now almost complete. In the end, we should embrace historian Barbara Fields’s succinct conclusion with respect to the plausibility of biological races: “Anyone who continues to believe in race as a physical attribute of individuals, despite the now commonplace disclaimers of biologists and geneticists, might as well also believe that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy are real, and that the earth stands still while the sun moves.”

. . .  Unfortunately, few in this society seem prepared to fully relinquish their subscription to notions of biological race.. . .[including the] Congress and the Supreme Court. Congress’ anachronistic understanding of race is exemplified by a 1988 statute that explains that “the term ‘racial group’ means a set of individuals whose identity as such is distinctive in terms of physical characteristics or biological descent.”  The Supreme Court, although purporting to sever race from biology, also seems incapable of doing so. In Saint Francis College v. Al-Khazraji, the Court determined that an Arab could recover damages for racial discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. . . Despite a seeming rejection of biological race, Justice White [stated]:  “The Court of Appeals was thus quite right in holding that § 1981, ‘at a minimum,’ reaches discrimination against an individual ‘because he or she is genetically part of an ethnically and physiognomically distinctive subgrouping of homo sapiens.”‘. . . By adopting the lower court’s language of genetics and distinctive subgroupings, Justice White demonstrates the Court’s continued reliance on blood as a metonym for race. . . .In Metrobroadcasting v. FCC,  Justice Scalia again reveals the Court’s understanding of race as a matter of blood. During oral argument, Scalia attacked the argument that granting minorities broadcasting licenses would enhance diversity by blasting “the policy as a matter of ‘blood,’ at one point charging that the policy reduced to a question of ‘blood . . .  blood, not background and environment.”‘

Social Construction

. . .  I define a “race” as a vast group of people loosely bound together by historically contingent, socially significant elements of their morphology and/or ancestry. I argue that race must be understood as a sui generis social phenomenon in which contested systems of meaning serve as the connections between physical features, races, and personal characteristics. In other words, social meanings connect our faces to our souls. Race is neither an essence nor an illusion, but rather an ongoing, contradictory, self-reinforcing process subject to the macro forces of social and political struggle and the micro effects of daily decisions. . . Referents of terms like Black, White, Asian, and Latino are social groups, not genetically distinct branches of humankind.


  1. says

    Okay so we’re talking about how many races in the world we have. Well I’m half Indian and half black. Most of my friends are hispanic & african american. There are alot of races in the world. They all have different languages that people speak like japanese, chinese, korean, german, mexican, italian, spanish and lots more. I know at least 2 languages. They are spanish and mexicano.

    • jimmy delcastillo says

      one thing to keep in mind is that in the U.S they a lot of people have the idea that Hispanics like a race,when they can be considered just an ethnic group because Hispanics can be from African origin(Negroid),European/Middle East(caucasian) and native indian,and there is also lots of mixtures from these.A small group from Asian(chinese ,or Japanese).One question,which language you considered mexicano?is that one of the mexican Indian languages?

  2. says

    Besides Josephus, what ‘proof ‘ do you have that the only two ‘races’ are that of the Ouda and Black? Where is the lineage of Kethurah via Yaphet? or any non-Hadamic lines?

  3. Noris says

    God is our Creator and smart enough to create a rainbow of people of different colors…you people should be ashame of yourself…specially christians…no one know if Adam was white or black…who knows…maybe Adam was white, Eve was black and God made their children a rainbow of races….WHATEVER! WE ARE ALL HUMANS! and if you said that Adam was white because you are white, or Adam was black because the last fossil the found is black you are all prejudist…we do not know, I did not know I had more white in me untill I came uto USA otherwise under the tropical sun I was cofee and milk :) and science cn not proove who was first white or black….please stop it! I have a friend from Domniocan Republic that told me I did not know I was black until I came to USA….Americans Stop the fite between colors, we are all created by the same creator…we are all humans with a bit of a different cover…..God bless you all

    • Karl Johnson says

      Why are christians so ignorant? science has proven we all come from a black women about 200 thousand years ago from DNA testing on all types of races. given all of the proven science and fossil records out there, I wish they would just close their fairy tale bibles and open their eyes and read some no fiction books and wake up!!!

    • rhonda djahmena okotcha says

      I agree with your statement colors complexion phenotypes and genetics differences are all environmental adaption of human due to different climate.

    • Dan R. says

      Well the climate would be different about 200k years ago maybe is was sunny but cold or something else.
      God made man with the ability to adapt to different environments, and that people of all variations are beautiful since we are made in the same image.

  4. patrick says

    Im polish and i live in canada and i found out that i was part of the slav race. And i realized that my race is close to extincton we only have 400 million people left on earth.

    • Katerina says

      The slav race is not close to extinction, I hope not anyway. 400 million is pretty stable. I am greek, the worldwide estimate is between 12-14 million. So who is more at risk? Besides, more importantly the percentage of people of european descent is going to shrink from the current 12 percent to 7 percent of the world’s population by 2050.

  5. HOWARD LOUIS says

    I would like to know what the “race” of the dark skinned (black) of the country India is. Also, why many seem to be ashamed to identified by the color of “black”.

    • Jeanna says

      North Indians were originally Aryan (Caucasian, as it says so in the article above), and South Indians were originally Dravidian (Negroid, again, says so above).

  6. adam says

    i want ask about somali people we are not arab and we are not negro so we are hamatic race you have to recognice

  7. Ife says

    With comments like these from people, I will definitely be reading Frances Cress-Welsings the “Cress Theory of Color Confrontation” again, and with a renewed interest in how and why “whites” (phenotype, haplo-group, ethnicity) are as confrontational when it comes to race, even when they are espousing so-called “I’ve got mixed children, what ever”. Granted, while all groups have this same confrontational nature, when confronted with “the other”, it is the rational mind (man/woman) who understands the truth of what makes us all “different”. It all boils down to what I like to term “light-skin psychosis”. Fear that “I’m not special”. Well, you aren’t, just different. And like the author said, it’s almost negligible, especially since we are moving into the age of the so-called “super human”.

  8. regina says

    you said and I quote “This is another way of saying that the differences between human races are not great, even though they may appear so, i.e. black vs white skin.

    All races of mankind in the world can interbreed because they have so much in common.

    im here to let you in on a big secret…NO WE CANT! I am RH NEGATIVE..and I CANNOT successfully mate with an rh positive man..rh negatives make up only 15% of the population…including but not limited to all the royalty in the world.

    if i were to try to mate with an rh positive man my body would think the child alien and kill it. go figure that one out.

    i think you should do more research into the human “races” before you make such a statement that we can all interbreed, when clearly we cant.

    • jimmy says

      that is untrue, if they are hr positive it doesnt mean you ‘CANNOT’ successfully mate, only that there are risks to the baby, also you can be injected with Rh immunoglobulin which enables safe pregnancies.

    • says

      If you ask the wrong questions it doesn’t matter what the answers are.

      It may be a good thing if you reject the RHESUS MONKEY FACTOR that was shot into a large part of what was passing for the Hu-man ‘race’ even after Jenner started his Chimeric Cow Pus experiments. To be injected with yet another UNKNOWN GENETIC POISON like Rh Ig is even more insane on top of insanity. If you didn’t make the substance yourself you have NO IDEA what is in the needle regardless of what the label says. Ask the third world women given tetanus shots who got Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin ON PURPOSE TO MAKE THEM STERILE. WHO we used to be is lost in a sea of invivo genetic manipulations. It is impossible to know Who we used to be because there is no baseline established before the corruption. And what is anyone doing bringing in sacrificial stock onto Hell Planet for anyway?

  9. Mary says

    No professional anthropologists recognizes “race” as anything but a social construction that is inherent with contraction.

    We speak of ethnicities, populations, and haplogroups.

    Maybe you should try doing research, instead of grossly generalizing about anthropology using 19th century material.

  10. bpleasebelieve says


    • pangea says

      The bones you’re referring to prove that man originated from Africa. This article, on the other hand, talks about racial groups. So your point is waaay off topic. And your comment is quite racist in itself, makes you a hypocrite, in my opinion. This article is very interesting and nobody has forced you to read it, I hope. So calm down and cut back on the hatred. Just because it’s an article on human races doesn’t mean you should turn it into a case of racism. Finally I didn’t read any part of this article that implied any race is “superior” to the others, leads me to think you didn’t understand the meaning of the article and read it the way your mind is used to pick up on things, racially motivated.

      Fyi, I’m not white so don’t hate me, you racist.

  11. werlok says

    Race one, tabula rasa – a white sheet, only the white race, other nations
    Race 1 and 2 only of blood and other impure
    Thank the Gods and Ancestors Ours!!!!

    • Dan R. says

      No, it could be lessened even to 0 but it will not die. The whole world could be the darkest skin color for 10 generations, the lightest skin color will not die, it’s in them the info.

  12. dbee says

    Anthropologist reject the concept of race.

    5. The American Anthropological Association recommends the elimination of the term “race” from OMB Directive 15 during the planning for the 2010 Census. During the past 50 years, “race” has been scientifically proven to not be a real, natural phenomenon. More specific, social categories such as “ethnicity” or “ethnic group” are more salient for scientific purposes and have fewer of the negative, racist connotations for which the concept of race was developed.

  13. inca says

    For the record, I am caucation, of scandinavian, and we have many mixed children in our family….. Some are black white mixed.. Some are white/ Native American mixed….and others are hispanic/white/with some native mixed… All of these children are beautiful and unique looking. One , who is caucation Scandinavian and Native looks like a perfect exotic mixture , is beautiful, and nicknamed herself ” CROWEGIAN.” ( Crow and Norwegian…) smile…Her Native parent also has some a Norwegian…The other two look more caucation…We have children who are black/ caucation mixed with caucation type hair and features , and some with curly dark hair… They too are all beautiful…then of course we have dozens of blue eyed and green eyed Scandinavian blondes too…We have children who are totally caucation with darker brown eyes, and dark brown hair, who are Norwegian, and children who are caucation and hispanic mixed….plus a few redheads , strawberry blonde who probably are Norwegian and Irish….All of this genetic variation began 6 to 10,000 years ago, when the gene oca2 changed, or mutated, to where forms this gene were no longer producing enough protein to create the amount of melanin to cause the brown eye coloring of the iris , and blue eyes began showing up in family groups more and more untill entire clans, who may have been close relatives, had blue , and green eyes …So now we have people on earth who carry copies of this gene which produce blue eyes , people who carry the original gene which produces not only brown eyes , but all eye colors , people who carry both, or all variations of this same gene, resulting in mixed children of all the people of the world, who look unique , and more rarely, people who carry the same gene, in a more seriously mutated form, which causes cells to not produce the protein that are needed to create melanin, which colors the eyes , skin and hair of these individuals..African people can carry this gene also…..People with this gene are albinos , and have very little pigment in their skin, hair and eyes…So from one human gene which changed , mutated, a few thousand years ago , we have , as a result, the beautiful human race….One people who all carry one form of this “SAME GENE”, in varying forms, which allow the people of the world to be unique individuals, look differently, but all beautiful….( There are a few other genes too , that can sometimes cancel out the genetic predictability we once believed existed in genetics of eye, hair and skin coloring..)while I am no expert on genetics, I have it right for the most part, and you can find this information online….

  14. inca says

    One of the most interesting cases of inherited traits from parent to child , is michael jackson and his four biological children. Because M.J. is closer to a 1/2, , and is not full black, his children can only be around a quarter black, or 1/4, or a little more . M.J.’s children , Prince 1 and Paris can only be around a quarter black because children inherit only half their genetic makeup from each parent. In order for Prince and Paris to be half black, michael Jackson would have to be full black. most people believe that m.J. was full black, and his children are half black…..Blanket has been said to be of middle eastern decent, Asian, Mexican, because of his long , thick, straight hair , however , M.J. carried the genetic makeup of around half black, the other half being white and Native American , from Katherine and Joe Jackson, his parents. because M.J. carries the genetic makeup of Native American, white and black, Blanket , was born with hair similiar to Native American and caucations…So all of the Jackson siblings are only around 1/3 to 1/2 or a little more black, with the genetic makeup of Native Americans, and caucations , the Jackson grandchildren can only be around a quarter black through the jackson side , and a quarter white and Native through the Jackson side… through their mothers, they either carry genetic makeup of latino, latino, and white , black , or mixed black and white , added to the quarter black genes the Jackson grandkids carry from their parents..All of the Jackson grandchildren look how they should look being more around a quarter black from their parents…. some look Latino, Hispanic, some look Latino/ black mix, some look mixed latino, black, white , some look nearly white , and some look mixed native , black and white as well as Prince1 and Paris who look around a quarter black… All of the Jackson grandchildren, and great grandchildren are beautiful, and unique looking…Because Debbie carried the alternate form of oca2 gene which was the mutation that accurred 6 to 10,000 years ago, which caused this gene to produce less of the protein which causes the cells to produce less melanin, and M.J. Jackson also carried copies of this mutated gene for blue eyes , and these two genes combined ,Paris was born with blue/ bluegreen eyes , passed down from debbie’s family and herself, as well as m.J. jackson’s father Joe, who has the blue to blue/ green eyes also .Since scientists now know there is no black, or white caucation gene , and there are only genes that cause cells to create the protein needed to produce melanin , in the eyes , skin, hair ect…, any person carrying the 0ca2 in the original form, as well as the altered form,(along with a few other) which occurred a few thousand years ago,who marries a person who also carries both forms of the gene, can have blue/ green eyed children…. A professor of biology said that an African American couple, both with the darkest complexions can have a totally caucation child with blonde hair and blue eyes , who looks totally white . All it takes is for both parents to carry both forms of the gene oca2 ,as well as around 6 other genes that determine, or influence the eye color, as well as skin, and hair color.Then, even if two parents contribute the form of gene that predicts brown eyes, other genes can cancel out these genes , and cause a child who should have had brown eyes ,to have blue, or green eyes…In this case two parents who both have brown eyes will have a blue eyed child. since the genes for different eye color , skin color and hair color may not be the same process A black child could be born with blue eyes, and black skin color, blue eyes and loose ringlets,brown eyes and blonde, even white/ blonde hair, or an evenly mixed look, or with blonde hair, blue eyes , and a caucation look..M.J.’s children Prince 1 and Paris look only around a quarter black……Blanket also is only around a quarter black , from Michael Jackson, but the Native American genes, as well as white, were expressed in him from M.J., Katherine and Joe and all their distant relatives…Blanket’s mother could be white……The surrogate who carried blanket in her womb was black tho, M.J. said. They transplant embryos into surrogate mothers…. usually… so the surrogate has no relation to the biological child of the real parents… Caucations may carry only recessive form of the oca2 gene,where not enough protein is produced to create the amount of melanin for hazel, or brown eyes, OR, a mixture of genes for both blue and brown eyes, light, or dark skin, complections, straight, or There are some caucations who have the same , or similiar texture of hair as long, loose afro style, with no black modern heritage…Since many of the Jackson grandchildren , third generation( from katherine and Joe) are, a quarter ,or a little more from the Jackson siblings, and Latino, or Latino/white mix , as well as Native and white from the jackson’s, the great grandchildren of katherine and Joe would probably have totally caucation looking children that looked similiar to Michael’s children if they marry caucation spouses, or children who look mixed Latino and white……. Then there could be children who also have the dark thick hair like blanket because of Native genes … so all the possibilities are there . M.J.’s oldest son looks just like Joe Jackson’s father ,and has the facial traits of the Jackson cousins, and relatives . Nearly all the Jackson male grandchildren share a genetic oral facial traits with Michael, that is they all pout their upper lips out like Michael did as a child, teen and adult.. If you look through the youtube videos , both past of m.J. and his siblings childhood , you will see many of them pouting theier upper lips out and jutting out their lips.. this is a strong , inherited oral facial genetic trait . then if you look through all of M.J.’s children as babies and children, you will see that they all share this inherited trait with Michael. Even Omer Bhatti pouted his upper lip out and jutted his lips out like M.J. did as a child( See Omer’s, Prince 1 and Prince 2 pictures, from baby, child , teen….These pictures are out there … Also pictures of jaafar, and other cousins like Tito’s sons also can be seen pouting their upper lips out, and jutting them out……. normally, a child pouts by pushing out their bottom lips, not their top lips. a genetic specialist made a youtube video showind m.J. and all four of his children , showing all three boys at different ages , as well as michael with their upper lips puffed out , and lips jutted out , which he said is a unique genetic set of oral facial traits m.J. shares with his kids as well as his siblings , nephews and nieces… the traits are unique enough for him ( the genetic specialist) to say that all of M.J.’s three boys are his biological children. And he showed that Paris also shared some oral facial traits with Michael Jackson .He showed how Paris looked like Latoya at different stages , infancy to teens….. and concluded that Paris was M.J.’s biological child also…In early pictures of Latoya as a baby, toddler, child and teen, side by side with Paris, at the same ages , one can see that Paris looks like a lighter version of latoya, with straighter hair.If one photoshopped Latoya with light, straighter hair, and blue eyes, Paris and Latoya would look like twins….. Or if one photo shopped Paris with brown eyes , and mixed hair , they would still look just alike…M.J’s children are not the only grandchildren who look caucation, with both blue and green eyes , according to what M.J.’s siblings have been quoted as saying….So this is a very interesting case where there are so many varients in the family….. however , people who come from the islands, and countries where nearly everyone is mixed with white and hispanic, as well as black, say that it is common there for children of black mixed people to look like michael jackson’s kids Prince1 and Prince 2 , Paris and Omer Bhatti with blue and green eyes as well as brown and hazel… When one understands how the genes interact to create babies , children with so many variations, it doesn’t seem so mysterious. Scientists now say there is no black, or white gene, and the dominant black gene doesn’t exist.What does exist is a gene , mainly oca2, which in it’s original form dictates how much of a protein that in turn ,causes the cells to create melanin which colors the eye iris, and the mutated , or changed variants of this same gene which causes the dna to create less of a protein, or enzyme that in turn produces less melanin in the cells which results in blue eyes…or green…these genes work along with a few other genes to create eye coloring.then the process is different for skin tone , and hair coloring….type in genetics of eye color, genetics of hair color , genetics of skintone, skin coloring, and also the genetics of afro type hair texture, and the genetics of hair texture.. type these all in separately. There are around 6 or 7 genes for skin coloring…Genetics is a very interesting subject…there are college and online college cources such as physical anthropology which explain how the genetics of eye, hair, and skin coloring work… already , in the last 10 years , scientists have done a total about face and no longer believe the same things that up untill the last decade , were taught in schools and college…scientists no longer believe that there is a biological basis for different races , black, white , asian, hispanic, and believe that race is only in the minds of people who look at the differences in hair color/ texture, skin color and tone , and eye color as race. They now say that what people see as different races is actually just different ethnic groups, cultures, or groups of people who share geographic bounderies … Now that they understand that there is no black, white, asian, or hispanic race genes , and that there are just a few genes that either produce the protein/enzyme that produce the melanin in varying amounts, and one of the main genes that cause brown eyes , also creates blue eyes , because of a mutation, or change in the gene , less than 10,000 years ago, it becomes clear that we are all one race … the human race…


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