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When Brazilians answer to open-ended questions about race, up to 143 different race-color terms are brought.
The most common is "moreno", a category that refers to a wide spectrum of phenotypes.
However, that is not to say that the social construct does not have a genetic foundation.
A comprehensive study presented by the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research found that on average, white Brazilians are ( Another autosomal study carried out by the geneticist Sergio Pena showed that the overwhelming ancestry of "white" Brazilians is European, but there is Native American and African ancestries as well (an average of 80% European ancestry).
Portuguese minorities speak assorted German dialects, mainly Riograndenser Hunsrückisch (1,94%), Talian or Venetian (0.49%) and Polish.
Other smaller minorities include Ukrainian, Dutch, Lithuanian, Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew.
According to another autosomal DNA study (from 2009) conducted on a school in the poor periphery of Rio de Janeiro the "whites" from a sample of just 90 students (who thought of themselves as "very mixed") were found to carry very little Amerindian or African admixtures (generally about 90% European in ancestry on average).
"The results of the tests of genomic ancestry are quite different from the self-made estimates of European ancestry", say the researchers.
Only 48% of those whites did not report any nonwhite ancestry.
The predominant nonwhite, mostly Afro-Brazilian population was seen as a problem for Brazil in the eyes of the predominantly White elite of the country.
In contrast to some countries, like the United States or South Africa, which tried to avoid miscegenation, even imposing anti-miscegenation laws, in Brazil, miscegenation was always legal.
In the 1940 Census, people were asked for their "colour or race"; if the answer was not "White", "Black", or "Yellow", interviewers were instructed to fill the "colour or race" box with a slash.
These slashs were later summed up in the category "pardo".