Discover the diverse blend of the Puerto Rican ancestry of indigenous Taínos, Africans, and Spanish heritage that defines our racial makeup. 

Puerto Rican ancestry

Puerto Rican Ancestry

Puerto Ricans are a beautiful mix of indigenous Taínos, Africans, and Spanish ancestry; and they come in all shades and skin tones. So it’s hard to answer a simple question such as, “What are you?” Like Gina Rodriguez says…

With that being said, let me tell you a little more about our racial makeup:

Puerto Rican Ancestry: Indigenous Taínos

The Taíno period begins in Puerto Rico around the year 1200 AD, almost three centuries before Christopher Columbus’ arrival on the island (1493) and the beginning of Spanish colonization (1508).

Puerto Ricans come from their indigenous ancestors the Taínos. Take a look at Benicio del Toro, a Puerto Rican actor who has the facial features of the Taíno Cacique Mabodamaca. This sculpture can be found in Isabela, Puerto Rico at the entrance of El Tunel de Guajataca. 


Puerto Rican Ancestry: Spanish (Spaniards)

On November 19, 1493, with the financial support of the Spanish Crown, Christopher Columbus arrives in Puerto Rico during his second voyage to the New World.

Puerto Ricans are descendants of the Spaniards. Look at Madison Anderson, Miss Universe Puerto Rico 2019. She’s a blonde with fair skin and green eyes. 

Image: YouTube screenshot

When you’re asked if you are Puerto Rican?

Puerto Rican Ancestry: African (Afro-Latinos)

Large numbers of enslaved black Africans were introduced to the island after 1519, mostly from several West African tribal regions. Three centuries later, thousands of additional slaves were brought to Puerto Rico (between 1815-1845) to work in the expanding agricultural economy. Slavery was not abolished until 1873.

Puerto Ricans are Afro-Latinos. Our ancestors come from Africa (specifically West Africa). Look at our beautiful Afro-Latinas queens such as Lauren Vélez, and Rosie Pérez. We also have our very own and first Puerto Rican super-heroine and she is an Afro-Latina woman!

Who hasn’t danced and grooved to Don Omar or Tego Calderón’s reggaetón? They are both Puerto Rican Afro-Latinos?

So next time they ask you what are you? Just respond that you’re the “closest perfect human!” Studies say so! You can read more about it here.

We are indeed a beautiful mix of all three of the above!  With that being said, as Puerto Ricans we are always in a  conundrum: I get asked often what am I?  Am I indigenous, Black or White? Am I one, or all three? 


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  1. Wonderful! Some of us have a little extra – my father was born in Cabo Rojo, where lots of other Europeans settled, including people from the Yugoslavian region, Poland, and Russia. Hence, our unusual name Petrovitch!

    1. My grandfather was born in cabo rojo too. I just found that out while doing my genealogy tree.

      1. Author

        Hi Roberto! How awesome that you found out about your heritage and ancestry. That’s great!

  2. Yes indeed! I see so many green and blue eyed cousins with blonde, dirty blonde hair cousins living in Isabella where “toda la familia todavia vivien” and “mi tia sabe quien es primo y cual es primo 1ero, segundo, y tercero”- its great. She has “la familia” all written up in her Holy Bible and its great to know how far back we go on the island and from what parts of Spain. Hence, then knowing a little more of our make-up. Weepa!

    1. Author

      Your Abuela has done a great job keeping the family tree lineage recorded. Muy bien para ella. Wepa!!!

  3. Lynda Carter is of English/Scot-Irish ancestry on her father’s side and Mexican on her mother’s side. She is not Puerto Rican..

    1. Author

      Ohhh my gosh! You are absolutely right about that! Growing up I always thought of her as Puerto Rican LOL so in my mind she was. Hence I didn’t research her ancestry. Thanks for pointing that out. I removed her GIF from the post.

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