Interracial couple: Wikis

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Othello and Desdemona from William Shakespeare's Othello, a play concerning an interracial marriage between a Moorish husband and Venetian wife.

Interracial marriage occurs when two people of differing racial groups marry, often creating multiracial children. This is a form of exogamy (marrying outside of one's racial group) and can be seen in the broader context of miscegenation (mixing of different racial groups in marriage, cohabitation, or sexual relations).


Legality of interracial marriage

In the Western world certain jurisdictions have had regulations banning or restricting interracial marriage in the past, including Germany during the Nazi period, South Africa under apartheid, and many states in the United States prior to a 1967 Supreme Court decision.


United States

U.S States, by the date of repeal of anti-miscegenation laws:      No laws passed      Before 1887      1948 to 1967      12 June 1967

Interracial marriage in the United States has been fully legal in all U.S. states since the 1967 Supreme Court decision that deemed anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, with many states choosing to legalize interracial marriage at much earlier dates. The United States has many ethnic and racial groups and interracial marriage is fairly common among most of them. Multiracial Americans numbered 6.8 million in 2000, or 2.4% of the population.[1]

Latin America

In Latin America, much of the population is descended from two main groups: Amerindians and Europeans. They form the Mestizo populations that populate almost all of the countries in Latin America. Intermarriage and inter-relations occurred on a larger scale than most places in the world. In some countries Africans, originally brought by the slave trade, and Asian immigrants have also intermarried among the groups.


North Africa

Interracial marriage between Arab men and their non-Arab harem slave girls was common in the Arab World during the Arab slave trade, which lasted throughout the Middle Ages and early modern period.[2] Most of these slaves came from places such as Sub-Saharan Africa (mainly Zanj), South Asian Hindus, the Caucasus (mainly Circassians),[3] Central Asia (mainly Tartars), and Central and Eastern Europe (mainly Slavs from Serbia - Saqaliba).[4] The Barbary pirates captured 1.25 million slaves from Western Europe and North America between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.[5][6] Outside the Arabic World, it was also common for Arab conquerors, traders and explorers to intermarry with local females in the lands they conquered or traded with, in various different parts of Africa, Asia (see Asia section) and Europe (see Europe section).

Medieval Western Asia was repeatedly invaded by Europeans (Crusades) and Mongols (Mongol Empire), which led to opportunities for interracial relationships between European, Mongol and other Central Asian/ East Asian soldiers and local Arab women. As well as many Europeans, there were North Africans, South Asians and Central Asians who worked as mercenaries and traders in the area, most of them converting to Islam and taking local women as wives.

From 839 AD, Viking Varangian mercenaries who were in the service of the Byzantine Empire, notably Harald Sigurdsson, campaigned in North Africa, Jerusalem and other places in the Middle East during the Byzantine-Arab Wars. They interbred with the local population as spoils of warfare or through eventual settling with many Scandinavian and Slavic Viking men taking Arab or Anatolian women as wives. There is archaeological evidence the Vikings had established contact with the city of Baghdad, at the time the center of the Islamic Empire, and connected with the populace there.[7] Regularly plying the Volga with their trade goods (furs, tusks, seal fat, seal boats and notably female slaves; the one period in the history of the slave-trade when females were priced higher than males), the Vikings were active in the Arab slave trade at the time.[8] These slaves (most often Slavs) were captured from Central and Eastern Europe, and sold to Arabic traders in Al-Andalus and the Emirate of Sicily.

Intermarriage was accepted in Arabic society, though only if the husband was Muslim. It was a fairly common theme in medieval Arabic literature and Persian literature. For example, the Persian poet Nezami, who married his Central Asian Kipchak slave girl, wrote The Seven Beauties (1196). Its frame story involves a Persian prince marrying seven foreign princesses, including Byzantine, Chinese, Indian, Khwarezmian, Maghrebian, Slavic and Tartar princesses. Hadith Bayad wa Riyad, a 12th-century Arabic tale from Al-Andalus, was a love story involving an Iberian girl and a Damascene man. The Arabian Nights tale of "The Ebony Horse" involves the Prince of Persia, Qamar al-Aqmar, rescuing his lover, the Princess of Sana'a, from the Byzantine Emperor who also wishes to marry her.[9]

At times, some marriages would have a major impact on the politics of the region. The most notable example was the marriage of As-Salih Ayyub, the Sultan of the Kurdish Ayyubid dynasty, to Shajar al-Durr, a slave of Turkic origin from Central Asia. Following her husband's death, she became the Sultana of Egypt and the first Mamluk ruler. Her reign marked the end of the Ayyubid dynasty and the beginning of the Mameluk era, when a series of former Mamluk slaves would rule over Egypt and occasionally other neighbouring regions.[10][11][12][13]

A genetic anthropological study known as The Genographic Project has found what is believed to be faint genetic traces left by medieval crusaders in the Middle East. The team has uncovered a specific DNA signature in Lebanon that is probably linked to the Christian crusades of the 7th and 8th centuries. It is believed the Crusaders were welcomed by Christian Arabs long suffering under Islamic rule[citation needed]. Many offered their daughters in marriage to the European Crusaders, who came mostly from France, England and the Holy Roman Empire.

The Ottoman Empire recruited young Christian boys from the Balkans, Caucasus and Middle East to become the elite military force of the Turkish Empire, the Janissaries. These Janissaries were stationed throughout the Turkish empire, including the Middle-East and North Africa. This led to marriage between European men and Muslim women from the Middle East. In North Africa, marriages between European men and local Arab/Berber women took place during the European colonial age when France, and at times Britain, Spain and Italy, ruled various parts of the region.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Indian men have married many African women in Africa. Indians first settled in South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Zaire, and Nigeria in small numbers, when these countries were part of the British Empire. These interracial unions were mostly between Indian men and African women.[14]

Middle East

In ancient times a Celtic people known as Galatians came from Northern Europe and settled in what is present day Turkey and thus intermarried with the people there. Similarly it is believed by many that the ancient Hittites of present day Turkey originated in South-Eastern Europe, either the Balkans, along the Caspian Sea or from the Armenian highlands or across the Black sea. During the empire of Alexander the Great, many Greek soldiers had interracial relationships with women throughout the Middle East all the way to Northern India. Later North Africa and parts of the Middle East were part of the Roman Empire and many European men (mostly Romans, Dacians, Germanics (Franks, Alamanni, Saxons, Goths, Vandals etc.), Sarmatians, Scythians, Celts from Gaul, Iberia, Britania etc., Greeks and Armenians) were posted as soldiers here. Many of them had interracial relationships with local women. The Germanic people known as the Vandals conquered North Africa during the great migration period which led to opportunities of interracial relationships between Germanic men and local women.


In 2005 there were slightly more marriages by Australian resident women (13,079) to foreign-born partners than by Australian resident men (12,714). Australian-born male and female residents who married that year were most likely to have married an Australian-born partner (84.1% of marriages involving Australian men; 83.7% of marriages involving Australian females). Male Australian residents who were born in China and were married in 2005 were least likely to have married an Australian-born resident (only 3.1% of marriages involving a Chinese-born groom were to an Australian-born bride). Female Australian residents who were born in Vietnam and were married in 2005 were least likely to have married an Australian-born resident (only 15.7% of marriages involving a Vietnamese-born bride were to an Australian-born groom). Only 8.8% of males, and 11% of females, who were American-born Australian residents and married in 2005, married another person from the United States.

In terms of variance between brides and grooms from particular countries in marrying native Australians, 36.7% of brides but only 7.9% of grooms born in countries defined as 'North Asia' (Japan and Korea) who married in 2005 did so to an Australian-born partner. Conversely, 64.1% of grooms but only 43.8% of brides born in Lebanon who married in 2005 did so to an Australian-born partner.[15]

Indigenous Australians have a high interracial marriage rate. According to the 2000 Census, in 1996 64% of all married or de-facto married couples involving an Indigenous person were mixed (i.e, only one partner was indigenous). In 55% of such couples, the Indigenous partner was female.[16]

Eastern and Southern Asia


The migration of non-Chinese into China began during the Western Jin dynasty (280 – 316 C.E.). The emperor of the Western Jin dynasty opened the border allowing non-Chinese to settle in China in the hope of replenishing the population which suffered a severe decline in the few decades before 280 C.E. Many tribal people moved into China, mainly from five groups: the Hsiung-nu, the Chieh, the Hsien-pei, and two groups from Tibet the Ti and Ch’iang people. Soon after they moved into China they took advantage of the weakness of the country by raising their own armies and forming their own kingdoms. They succeeded in destroying the Western Jin government and seizing the land in the North of the Yangtze River. The Chinese government and the majority of its people fled to the South of Yangtze River and from there they established the Eastern Jin Dynasty.

The five non-Chinese groups, after driving the Chinese out of northern China, founded their own kingdoms and fought each other for land and supremacy. In about three centuries that followed two dozen kingdoms raised and fell. This long period of chaos is called “Wu Hu (Five non-Chinese) Ravaged China” in the Chinese history. Although there were racial hatred, interracial marriage took place and became common over time, many in the ruling class came from interracial families. For example, the first emperor of the Tang dynasty (618 – 907 C.E.) himself married a non-Chinese woman who came from an eastern Mongolian tribe.

There have been various periods in the history of China where large numbers of Arabs, Persians and Turks from the Western Regions (Central Asia and West Asia) migrated to China, beginning with the arrival of Islam during the Tang Dynasty in the 7th century. Due to the majority of these immigrants being male, they often intermarried with local Chinese females. While intermarriage was initially discouraged by the Tang Dynasty, it was later encouraged during the Song Dynasty, which allowed third-generation immigrants with official titles to intermarry with Chinese imperial princesses. Immigration to China increased under the Mongol Empire, when large numbers of West and Central Asians were brought over to help govern Yuan China in the 13th century.[17]

By the 14th century, the total population of Muslims in China had grown to 4 million.[18] After Mongol rule had been overthrown by the Ming Dynasty in 1368, this led to a violent Chinese backlash against West and Central Asians. In order to contain the violence, the Ming administration instituted a policy where all West and Central Asian males were required to intermarry with native Chinese females, hence assimilating them into the local population. Their descendants are today known as the Hui people.[17]

Hong Kong

South Asians have been living in Hong Kong throughout the colonial period, before the partition of India into the nations of India and Pakistan. They migrated to Hong Kong and worked as police officers as well as army officers during colonial rule. 25,000 of the Muslims in Hong Kong trace their roots back to Faisalabad in what is now Pakistan; around half of them belong to 'local boy' families, who descended from early Indian/Pakistani immigrants who took local Chinese wives.[19][20]

Indian subcontinent

An oil painting of Khair-un-Nissa by George Chinnery. c. 1805. She was an Indian Hyderabadi noblewoman who married the British Lieutenant Colonel James Achilles Kirkpatrick.
The movie Bride and Prejudice deals with the inter-racial relationship between an American businessman William Darcy and an Indian woman Lalita.

The Indian subcontinent has a long history of inter-ethnic marriage dating back to ancient history. Various groups of people have been intermarrying for millennia in South Asia, including groups as diverse as the Dravidian, Indo-Aryan (Indic), Iranian, Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman peoples. This was particularly common in the northwestern and northeastern parts of the subcontinent. In the northeast, Northern Indian men (of largely "Indic" stock) often intermarried with North-East Indian women (of largely "Mongoloid" stock); for example, the ancient epic Mahabharata describes the indigineous people of the northeast as "exotic" and depicts Arjuna taking several wives there. Meanwhile in the northwest (mainly modern-day Pakistan), invading Persians, Indo-Scythians, Indo-Hephthalites, Indo-Greeks and Mughals often took local wives in that region during Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

According to the controversial Indo-Aryan migration theory, Indo-Iranian nomadic groups ("Aryans") from Central Asia migrated to India more than 3,000 years ago. In turn, the Indo-Iranian languages are descended from the Indo-European languages speakers from who may have origins around the Black Sea. According to 19th century British historians, it was these "Aryans" who and established the caste system, an elitist form of social organization that separated the "light-skinned" Indo-Aryan conquerors from the "conquered dark-skinned" indigenous Dravidian tribes through enforcement of "racial endogamy". Much of this was simply conjecture, fueled by British imperialism[21] British policies of divide and rule as well as enumeration of the population into rigid categories during the tenure of British rule in India contributed towards the hardening of these segregated caste identities.[22]. Since the independence of India from British rule, the British fantasy of an "Aryan Invasion and subjugation of the dark skinned Dravidians in India" has become a staple polemic in South Asian geopolitics, including the propaganda of Indophobia in Pakistan[23]. There is no decisive theory as to the origins of the caste system in India, and globally renown historians and archaeologists like Jim Shaffer, J.P. Mallory, Edwin Bryant, and others, have disputed the claim of "Aryan Invasion"[24]

Some researchers claim that genetic similarities to Europeans were more common in members of the higher ranks. Their findings, published in Genome Research, supported the idea that members of higher castes are more closely related to Europeans than are the lower castes.[25]. According to the research invading European populations were predominantly male who intermarried with local females and formed the upper castes i.e. the local females had upward mobility in caste which was denied to local males. However, other researchers have criticized and contradicted this claim.[26] A study by Joanna L. Mountain et al. of Stanford University had concluded that there was "no clear separation into three genetically distinct groups along caste lines", although "an inferred tree revealed some clustering according to caste affiliation".[27] A 2006 study by Ismail Thanseem et al. of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (India) concluded that the "lower caste groups might have originated with the hierarchical divisions that arose within the tribal groups with the spread of Neolithic agriculturalists, much earlier than the arrival of Aryan speakers", and "the Indo-Europeans established themselves as upper castes among this already developed caste-like class structure within the tribes."[28] A 2006 genetic study by the National Institute of Biologicals in India, testing a sample of men from 32 tribal and 45 caste groups, concluded that the Indians have acquired very few genes from Indo-European speakers.[29] More recent studies have also debunked the claims that so-called "Aryans" and "Dravidians" have a "racial divide". A study conducted by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in 2009 (in collaboration with Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT) analyzed half a million genetic markers across the genomes of 132 individuals from 25 ethnic groups from 13 states in India across multiple caste groups.[30] The study establishes, based on the impossibility of identifying any genetic indicators across caste lines, that castes in South Asia grew out of traditional tribal organizations during the formation of Indian society, and was not the product of any Aryan Invasion and subjugation of Dravidian people.

Many Indian traders, merchants and missionaries travelled to Southeast Asia (where Indianized kingdoms were established) and often took local wives from the region. The Romani people ("Gypsies") who have origins in the Indian subcontinent travelled westwards and also took local wives in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Genetic studies show that the majority of Romani males carry large frequencies of particular Y chromosomes (inherited paternally) that otherwise exist only in populations from South Asia, in addition to nearly a third of Romani females carrying particular mitochondrial DNA (inherited maternally) that is rare outside South Asia.[31][32] Around circa 800, a ship carrying Persian Jews crashed in India. They settled down in different parts of India and befriended and traded with the local Indian population. Intermarriage occurred, and to this day the Indian Jews physically resemble their surrounding Indian populations due to intermarriage.

There are even cases of Indian princesses marrying kings abroad. For example, the Korean text Samguk Yusa about the Gaya kingdom (it was absorbed by the kingdom of Silla later), indicate that in 48 AD, King Kim Suro of Gaya (the progenitor of the Gimhae Kim clan) took a princess (Princess Heo) from the "Ayuta nation" (which is the Korean name for the city of Ayodhya in North India) as his bride and queen. Princess Heo belonged to the Mishra royal family of Ayodhya. According to the Samguk Yusa, the princess had a dream about a heavenly fair handsome king from a far away land who was awaiting heaven's anointed ride. After Princess Heo had the dream, she asked her parents, the king and queen of Ayodhya, for permission to set out and seek the foreign prince, which the king and queen urged with the belief that god orchestrated the whole fate. That king was no other than King Kim Suro of the Korean Gaya kingdom.

In Goa during the late 16th and 17th centuries, there was a community of Japanese slaves and traders, who were either Japanese Christians fleeing anti-Christian in Japan,[33] or Japanese slaves brought or captured by Portuguese traders and their South Asian lascar crewmembers from Japan.[34] In both cases, they often intermarried with the local population in Goa.[33] One offspring of such an intermarriage was Maria Guyomar de Pinha, born in Thailand to a Portuguese-speaking Japanese-Bengali father from Goa and a Japanese mother.[35] In turn, she married the Greek adventurer Constantine Phaulkon.[36]

Inter-ethnic marriages between European men and Indian women were very common during colonial times. According to the historian William Dalrymple, about one in three European men (mostly British, as well as Portuguese, French, Dutch, and to a lesser extent Swedes and Danes) had Indian wives in colonial India. This was primarily because the European men came to India when they were young and there were very few white women available in India. One of the most famous intermarriages was between the Hyderabadi noble women and a descendant of prophet Mohammed, Khair-un-Nissa and the Scottish resident James Achilles Kirkpatrick. During the British East India Company's rule in India in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, it was initially fairly common for British officers and soldiers to take local Indian wives. The 600,000 Anglo-Indian community has descended from such unions. There is also a story of an attractive Gujjar princess falling in love with a handsome English nobleman and the nobleman converted to Islam so as to marry the princess. The 65,000 strong Burgher community of Sri Lanka was formed by the intermarriages of Dutch and Portuguese men with local Sinhalese and Tamil women. Intermarriage also took place in Britain during the 17th to 19th centuries, when the British East India Company brought over many thousands of Indian scholars, lascars and workers (mostly Bengali) who settled down in Britain and took local British wives, some of whom went to India with their husbands.[37][38] In the mid-19th century, there were around 40,000 British soldiers but less than 2,000 British officials present in India.[39]


Inter-ethnic marriage in Japan dates back to the 7th century, when Chinese and Korean immigrants began intermarrying with the local population. By the early 9th century, over one-third of all noble families in Japan had ancestors of foreign origin.[33] In the 1590s, over 50,000 Koreans were forcibly brought to Japan, where they intermarried with the local population. In the 16th and 17th centuries, around 58,000 Japanese travelled abroad, many of which intermarried with the local women in Southeast Asia.[40]

Portuguese traders in Japan also intermarried with the local Christian women in the 16th and 17th centuries.[41]

During the anti-Christian persecutions in 1596, many Japanese Christians fled to Macau and other Portuguese colonies such as Goa, where there was a community of Japanese slaves and traders by the early 17th century.[33] The Japanese slaves were brought or captured by Portuguese traders from Japan.[34] Intermarriage with the local populations in these Portuguese colonies also took place.[33]

In 2003, there were 36,039 international marriages between Japanese and non-Japanese in Japan - about one out of twenty marriages. About 80% of these interracial marriages involved a Japanese male marrying a foreign female (predominantly Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Thai and Brazilian), and 20% involve marriage to a foreign husband (predominantly Korean, American, Canadian, Chinese, Egyptian, Iranian, British and Brazilian).[42]


International marriages now make up 13% of all marriages in South Korea. The majority of these marriages are unions between a Korean male and a foreign female,[43] from China, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, United States, Mongolia, Thailand, and Russia. On the other hand, Korean females have married foreign males from Japan, China, the United States, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines, and Nepal. Between 1990 and 2005, there have been 159,942 Korean males and 80,813 Korean females married to foreigners.[44][45]

Interracial marriage in Korea dates back to at least the Three Kingdoms period. Records about the period, in particular the section in the Samguk Yusa about the Gaya kingdom (it was absorbed by the kingdom of Silla later), indicate that in 48 AD, King Kim Suro of Gaya (the progenitor of the Gimhae Kim clan) took a princess from the "Ayuta nation" (which is the Korean name for the city of Ayodhya in North India) as his bride and queen.[46] Two major Korean clans today claim descent from this union.[47]

Somewhat later, during the arrival of Muslims in Korea in the Middle Ages, a number of Arab, Persian and Turkic navigators and traders settled in Korea. They took local Korean wives and established several Muslim villages.[48] Some assimilation into Buddhism and Shamanism eventually took place, owing to Korea's geographical isolation from the Muslim world.[49] At least two or three major Korean clans today claim descent from Muslim families.[50][51]

Southeast Asia

Interracial marriage in Southeast Asia dates back to the spread of Indian culture, including Hinduism and Buddhism, to the region. From the 1st century onwards, mostly male traders and merchants from the Indian subcontinent frequently intermarried with the local female populations in Cambodia, Burma, Champa, central Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, and Malay Archipelago. Many Indianized kingdoms arose in Southeast Asia during the Middle Ages.[52]

From the 9th century onwards, a large number of mostly male Arab traders from the Middle East settled down in the Malay Archipelago and intermarried with the local Malay, Indonesian and Filipina female populations, which contributed to the spread of Islam in Southeast Asia.[53] From the 14th to the 17th centuries, many Chinese, Indian and Arab traders settled down within the maritime kingdoms of Southeast Asia and intermarried with the local female populations. This tradition continued among Spain and Portuguese traders who also intermarried with the local populations.[54] In the 16th and 17th centuries, thousands of Japanese people also travelled to Southeast Asia and intermarried with the local women there.[40]


Burmese Muslims are the descendants of Indian Muslims, Arabs, Persians, Turks, Pathans, Chinese Muslims and Malays who settled and intermarried with the local Burmese population and other Burmese ethnic groups such as the Rakhine, Shan, Karen, and Mon.[55][56]

The oldest Muslim group in Burma (Myanmar) are the Rohingya people, who are mostly descended from Bengalis who intermarried with the native females in the Rakhine State after the 7th century. When Burma was ruled by the British Indian administration, millions of Indians, mostly Muslim, migrated there. The mixed descendants of Indian males and local Burmese females are called "Zerbadees", often in a prejorative sense implying mixed race. The Panthays, a group of Chinese Muslims descended from West Asians and Central Asians, migrated from China and also intermarried with local Burmese females.[57]

In addition, Burma has an estimated 52,000 Anglo-Burmese people, descended from British and Burmese people. Anglo-Burmese people frequently intermarried with Anglo-Indian immigrants, who eventually assimilated into the Anglo-Burmese community.

Malaysia and Singapore

In Malaysia and Singapore, the majority of inter-ethnic marriages are between Chinese and Indians. The offspring of such marriages are informally known as "Chindian". The Malaysian and Singaporean governments, however, only classifies them by their father's ethnicity. As the majority of these intermarriages usually involve an Indian groom and Chinese bride, the majority of Chindians in Malaysia are usually classified as "Indian" by the Malaysian government. As for the Malays, who are predominantly Muslim, legal restrictions in Malaysia make it uncommon for them to intermarry with either the Indians, who are predominantly Hindu, or the Chinese, who are predominantly Buddhist and Taoist.[58]

It is common for Arabs in Singapore and Malaysia to take local Malay wives, due to a common Islamic faith.[53] The Chitty people, in Singapore and the Malacca state of Malaysia, are a Tamil people with considerable Malay descent, which was due to the first Tamil settlers taking local wives, since they did not bring along any of their own women with them. According to government statistics, the population of Singapore as of September 2007 was 4.68 million, of whom multiracial people, including Chindians and Eurasians, formed 2.4%. In 2007, 16.4% of all marriages in Singapore were inter-ethnic.[59]


Thousands of interracial marriages between Americans and Filipinos have taken place since the United States in turn took possession of the Philippines after the Spanish American War. Due to the strategic location of the Philippines, as many as 21 bases and 100,000 military personnel were stationed there since the U.S. first colonized the islands in 1898. These bases were decommissioned in 1992 after the end of the Cold War, but left behind thousands of Amerasian children.[60] The Pearl S. Buck International foundation estimates there are 52,000 Amerasians scattered throughout the Philippines, who are often impoverished and socially ostracized because of their mixed racial/ethnic heritage, and/or who have been abandoned by one or both of their parents.[61]

Because of the so-called "Mail Order Bride" services - a singles introduction between Westerners and Asians - thousands of marriages between Americans, Europeans and Australians have taken place with Asians—mostly Filipinas.[citation needed] These Asians then go on to settle in the foreign land of their spouse. However, because most of these nations require strict proof that at least one of the participants has the ability to financially support the foreign spouse before they legalize such unions, the number of these marriages are somewhat limited, and can sometimes force the man or woman in question to move to the Asian nation instead, or, in some cases, leave the man and woman and possibly also their child(ren) separated from one another, restricting family reunions to periodic visits to either the Western or Asian country.

In the United States intermarriage among Filipinos with other races is common. They have the largest number of interracial marriages among Asian immigrant groups, as documented in California.[62] It is also noted that 21.8% of Filipino Americans are of mixed blood, second among Asian Americans, and is the fastest growing.[63]

Interracial marriages particularly among Southeast Asians are continually increasing. At present, there is an increasing number of Southeast Asian intermarriages particularly between Filipinos and Malaysians (Dumanig, 2009). Such marriages have created an impact in language, religion and culture. Dumanig (2009) argues that Filipino-Malaysian couples no longer prefer their own ethnic languages as the medium of communication at home. The use of English with some switching in Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese,and Filipino is commonly used.[64]



During World War I, there were 135,000 soldiers from British India,[65] a large number of soldiers from French North Africa,[66] and 20,000 labourers from South Africa,[67] who served in France. Much of the French male population had gone to war, leaving behind a surplus of French females,[68] many of whom formed interracial relationships with non-white soldiers, mainly Indian[69][70] and North African.[65] British and French authorities allowed foreign Muslim soldiers to intermarry with local French females on the basis of Islamic law, which allows marriage between Muslim men and Christian women. On the other hand, Hindu soldiers in France were restricted from intermarriage on the basis of the Indian caste system.[70]

According to France's 1999 Census, 38% and 34% of male and female married immigrants, respectively, are intermarried. The highest intermarriate rate was for European immigrants, mainly Spanish and Italian, nearly 50% of whom have had intermarriages. 30% of North African immigrants and 20% of Portuguese immigrants have also had intermarriages. The lowest intermarriage rate was for Turkish immigrants, with 14% for married males and 4% for married females.[71]


The Normans were descended from Danish Vikings who were given feudal overlordship of areas in northern France—the Duchy of Normandy—in the 8th century. In that respect, descendants of the Vikings in western Europe continued to have an influence in northern Europe as well. Likewise, King Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England who was killed during the Norman invasion in 1066, had Danish ancestors. Many of the medieval kings of Norway and Denmark married into English and Scottish royalty and occasionally got involved in dynastic disputes.

An artistic depiction of Roxelana with Suleiman the Magnificent, by German painter Anton Hickel (1780).


According to the 2006 figures from Germany's Federal Statistics Office, Turkish men accounted for 14 percent of foreigners German women marry, followed by Italians and Americans.[72] Conversely, German men marrying non-German women primarily choose Polish women, with Russian, Turkish and Thai women following in roughly equal numbers.[72]

Comparative sociologist Amparo Gonzalez-Ferrer argues that one of the main reasons why Turkish men marry Germans more than Turkish women do is due to Islam permitting men but not women to marry non-Muslims.[72] Dirk Halm, political scientist for the Center for Turkish Studies in Essen, remarked that considering Turkish citizens make up 25 percent of all foreign residents in Germany—not counting an additional one-third ethnic Turks who are German citizens—intermarriage rates in Germany are "in reality very low".[72]

Iberian Peninsula

Hadith Bayad wa Riyad (12th century) was an Arabic love story about an Andalusian female and a foreign Damascene male.

In ancient history, the Iberian Peninsula was frequently invaded by foreigners who intermarried with the native population. One of the earliest foreign groups to arrive to the region were the Indo-European Celts who intermarried with the pre-Indo-European Iberians in prehistoric Iberia. They were later followed by the Phoenician Carthaginians and Indo-European Romans who intermarried with the pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula during Classical Antiquity. They were in turn followed by the Germanic Visigoths, Suebi and Vandals and the Sarmatian Alans who also intermarried with the local population in Hispania during late Antiquity. In the 6th century, the region was reconquered by the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) before it was lost again to the Visigothic Kingdom less than a century later.

After the Umayyad conquest of Hispania in the early 8th century, the Islamic state of Al-Andalus was established in Iberia. Due to Islamic marital law allowing a Muslim male to marry Christian and Jewish females, it became common for Arab and Berber males from North Africa to intermarry with the local Germanic, Roman and Iberian females of Hispania.[73][74] The offspring of such marriages were known as Muladi or Muwallad, an Arabic term still used in the modern Arab world to refer to people with Arab fathers and non-Arab mothers.[75] This term was also the origin for the Spanish word Mulatto.[76][77] In addition, many Muladi were also descended from Saqaliba (Slavic) slaves taken from Eastern Europe via the Arab slave trade. By the 11th or 12th century, the Muslim population of Al-Andalus had merged into a homogeneous group of people known as the "Moors". After the Reconquista, which was completed in 1492, most of the Moors were forced to either flee to Morocco or convert to Christianity. The ones who converted to Christianity were known as Moriscoes, and they were often persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition on the basis of the Limpieza de sangre ("Cleanliness of blood") or "blue blood" doctrine.[78]

Italian Peninsula

"Othello and Desdemona", a painting by Alexandre-Marie Colin in 1829

As was the case in other regions conquered by Muslims, it was acceptable in Islamic marital law for a Muslim male to marry Christian and Jewish females in southern Italy when under Islamic rule between the 8th and 11th centuries. In this case, most intermarriages were between Arab Black African and Berber males from North Africa and the local Greek, Roman and Italian females of Sicily and southern Italy. Such intermarriages were particularly common in the Emirate of Sicily, where one writer visiting the place in the 970s expressed shock at how common it was in rural areas.[79] After the Norman conquest of southern Italy, all Muslim citizens (whether foreign, native or mixed) of the Kingdom of Sicily were known as "Moors". After a brief period of Arab-Norman culture had flourished under the reign of Roger II of Sicily, later rulers had forced the Moors to either convert to Christianity or be expelled from the kingdom.

In Malta, Arabs from neighbouring Sicily and Calabria intermarried with the local inhabitants,[80] who were descended from Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Vandals. The Maltese people are descended from such unions, and the Maltese language is descended from Siculo-Arabic.

In the Republic of Venice in northern Italy, it was common for foreign Arab and Berber traders, known to Europeans as the "Moors", to take local Italian wives. This became a subject matter in several William Shakespeare plays, most notably Othello, involving an inter-ethnic relationship between a Moorish Othello and his Venetian wife Desdemona, based on Giovanni Battista Giraldi's "Un Capitano Moro" which was itself inspired by an actual incident that occurred in Venice around 1508.[81] At times, the Italian city-states also played an active role in the Arab slave trade, where Moorish and Italian traders occasionally exchanged slaves. Leonardo da Vinci's mother Caterina, for example, was most likely a slave from the Middle East.[82][83]

Southeastern and Eastern Europe

Vikings explored and eventually settled in territories in Slavic-dominated areas of Eastern Europe. By 950 AD, these settlements were largely Slavicized through intermarriage with the local population. Eastern Europe was an important source of captives for the Arab slave trade then, and Saqaliba (Slavic) slaves taken to the Arab World often intermarried or had unions with their Arab owners. When the Mongol Empire annexed much of Eastern Europe in the 13th century, the Mongols also intermarried with the local population.

In the 11th century, the Byzantine territory of Anatolia was conquered by the Seljuq Turks, who came from Turkestan in Central Asia. Their Ottoman Turkish descendants went on to annex the Balkans and much of Eastern Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Due to Islamic marital law allowing a Muslim male to marry Christian and Jewish females, it was common in the Ottoman Empire for Turkish males to intermarry with European females. For example, various sultans of the Ottoman Dynasty often had Greek (Rûm), Slavic (Saqaliba), Venetian, Caucasian and French wives. Some of these European wives exerted great influence upon the empire as Valide Sultan ("Sultan's Parent"); some famous examples included Roxelana, a Slavic harem slave who later became Suleiman the Magnificent's favourite wife, and Aimée du Buc de Rivéry, wife of Abdul Hamid I and sister of French Empress Josephine. Due to the common occurrence of such intermarriages in the Ottoman Empire, they had a significant impact on the ethnic makeup of the modern Turkish population in Turkey, which now differs from that of the Turkic population in Central Asia.[84]

United Kingdom

British musician David Bowie is married to the Somali supermodel Iman

Britain has a long history of inter-ethnic marriage among the various European populations that inhabited the island, including the Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman peoples. Intermarriage with non-European populations began in the late 15th century, with the arrival of the Romani people ("Gypsies"). The arriving Romani nomads took local British wives, forming a distinct community known as the Romnichal. Due to intermarriage, Romnichal today are often indistinguishable from the general white British population.

Inter-ethnic marriage occurred in Britain since the 17th century, when the British East India Company began bringing over many Indian scholars, lascars and workers (usually Bengali and/or Muslim) who took local white British wives, largely due to a lack of Indian women in Britain at the time. Though mixed marriages were not always accepted in British society, there were generally no legal restrictions against intermarriage at the time.[85][86] By the mid-19th century, there were more than 40,000 Indian seamen, diplomats, scholars, soldiers, officials, tourists, businessmen and students arriving to Britain.[38] By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were around 70,000 South Asians in Britain,[87] 51,616 of whom were lascar seamen (when World War I began).[88] Families with South Asian lascar fathers and white mothers established interracial communities in Britain's dock areas.[89] This led to a growing number of “mixed race” children being born in the country, which challenged the British elite efforts to "define them using simple dichotomies of British versus Indian, ruler versus ruled."[90] The number of women of colour in Britain were often outnumbered by "half-caste Indian" daughters born from white mothers and Indian fathers.[91] In addition, a number of British officers who had Indian wives and Anglo-Indian children in British India often brought them over to Britain in the 19th century.[92]

Following World War I, there was a large surplus of females in Britain,[93] and there were increasing numbers of seamen from the Indian subcontinent, Arab World, Far East and Caribbean. Many of them intermarried and cohabited with local white females, which raised increasing concerns over miscegenation and led to several race riots at the time.[94]. By World War II, any form of intimate relationship between a white woman and non-white man was often considered offensive[95]. Concerns were repeatedly voiced regarding white adolescent girls forming relationships with coloured men, including South Asian seamen in the 1920s,[96] Muslim immigrants in the 1920s to 1940s,[97] African American GIs during World War II, Maltese and Cypriot cafe owners in the 1940s to 1950s, Caribbean immigrants in the 1950s to 1960s, and South Asian immigrants in the 1960s.

As of 2001, 2% of all marriages in the United Kingdom are inter-ethnic. Despite the UK's having a much lower proportion of non-white population (9%) than the United States, the frequency of mixed marriages is as common.[98] New Studies are being conducted by London South Bank University called Parenting 'Mixed' Children: Negotiating Difference and Belonging.[99][100]

Interracial marriage gender disparities for certain groups

According to the UK 2001 census, black British males were around 50% more likely than black females to marry outside their race. British Chinese women (30%) were twice as likely as their male counterparts (15%) to marry someone from a different ethnic group. Among British Asians, referring mainly to South Asians, males were twice as likely to have an inter-ethnic marriage than their female counterparts.[98] As of 2005, it is estimated that nearly half of British-born African-Caribbean males, a third of British-born African-Caribbean females, and a fifth of Indian and African males, have white partners.[101]

Case of Seretse Khama

In 1948, an international incident was created when the British government took exception to the "difficult problem"[102] of the marriage of Seretse Khama, kgosi (king) of the Bamangwato people of what was then the British Bechuanaland Protectorate, to an English woman, Ruth Williams, whom he had met while studying law in London. The interracial marriage sparked a furore among both the tribal elders of the Bamangwato and the apartheid government of South Africa. The latter objected to the idea of an interracial couple ruling just across their northern border, and exerted pressure to have Khama removed from his chieftainship. Britain’s Labour government, then heavily in debt from World War II, could not afford to lose cheap South African gold and uranium supplies. They also feared South Africa might take direct action against Bechuanaland, through economic sanctions or a military incursion.[103][104] The British government began a parliamentary enquiry into Khama’s fitness for the chieftainship. Though the investigation reported that he was eminently fit for the rule of Bechuanaland, "but for his unfortunate marriage",[105] the government ordered the report suppressed. (It would remain so for thirty years.) It exiled Khama and his wife from Bechuanaland in 1951. It was many years before the couple was allowed to live in Africa, and several more years before Khama became president of what is now Botswana. Their son Ian Khama is the president of that country.

Intercultural marriage complications

Oftentimes, couples in intercultural marriages face barriers that most married couples of the same culture are not exposed to. Intercultural marriages are often influenced by external factors that can create dissonance and disagreement in relationships.[106] Different cultures endure vastly diverse moral, ethical and value foundations that influence their perceptions of individual, family and societal lifestyle. When these foundations are operating alongside the foundation of different cultural roots, as in intercultural marriages, problems and disagreement oftentimes occur.[106] However, interracial marriages are not always intercultural marriages, as in some countries, such as the United States, people of different races can share the same cultural background.

Family and society

The most common external factors influencing intercultural relationships and marriages are the acceptance of the family and the society in which the couple lives.[106] Sometimes, the families of the partners display rejection, resistance, hostility and lack of acceptance for their kin’s partner.[106] Specific issues regarding the family; including generational gaps in ideology, and how the wedding will be held; which ties into how tradition will or will not be practiced. Many intercultural couples report conflict arising over issues of how to carry out child raising and religious worship as well. Dealing with racism from outside sources is also a common area of potential conflict.

Communication style

Intercultural couples may possess differing communication styles. Individuals from a high context culture are not verbally explicit in their communication behaviors.[107] These cultures typically consist of eastern world countries where collectivism and relational harmony underlie communication behavior. By contrast, individuals from a low context culture use direct obvious communication styles to convey information.[107] In situations where marriage occurs between two people from differing communication contextual backgrounds, conflict may arise from relational challenges posed by the underlying assumptions of high/low context cultures. Challenges posed by differing communication styles are common among intercultural marriage couples.[108] The longer the two individuals have existed in the current culture the less likely this is to pose an issue. If one or more partners within the marriage is relatively new to the dominant culture the likelihood for conflict to unfold on these bases increases.[108]


Intercultural couples tend to face hardships most within-culture relationships do not. Various resources which focus on conflict resolution of intercultural differences in marriage relationships have become available in the media. Specialized counseling and support groups have also become available to these couples. Conflict resolution and mediation of the infrastructural issues faced by intercultural couples leads to a broader understanding of culture and communication.[109]

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