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Mestizos have existed since the time when Spain controlled what is now Latin America. A mestizo was usually the son of a Spanish father and a Native American mother. Mestizos form the largest part of the population in some Latin American nations, a large minority of mestizos makes up most of the population in Mexico, which is the Spanish-speaking nation with the largest population in the world.
During the colonial era, many Native Americans were converted to Roman Catholicism and began using the Spanish language instead of their traditional one. This was because of the concept that existed in the Spanish colonies which gave more "value" to European people over Native Americans and Africans. Because of this, many Native Americans gained better social status by calling themselves "mestizos" instead of "Native American."