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The meaning of the term sambo however is contested in North America, where other etymologies have been proposed. The word most likely originated from one of the
The term zambo was not formally used in Spanish writing until the seventeenth century, and often competed with other terms, including mulato. African slaves began mixing with indigenous people from the beginning of their importation into Hispaniola in the early sixteenth century. Some of this mixture took place in the mines and plantations of Hispaniola, the other Spanish Caribbean islands following the introduction of sugar production in the 1520s, and also when Africans fled from these estates to unconquered indigenous regions.
Unions described as producing zambos took place all throughout the Spanish colonial empire, following the pattern established in Hispaniola; and the group was generally classified among those people who were not of European ancestry. In the eighteenth century, the Spanish began producing systematic racial classifications, and zambo was defined in its final meaning.
Some famous zambo groups were created by runaway or rebel Africans who mixed with or took over indigenous communities. In the unconquered regions of Esmeraldes, in what would become
Another famous group of zambos were the