Key Features of Human Races

Human race refers to a group of people with certain features in common that distinguish them from other groups of people. There are various systems of classifications of human races. A 20th century classification given by  American anthropologist Carleton S. Coon has divided the humans into five races as follows:

  • Caucasoid (White) race
  • Negroid (Black) race
  • Capoid (Bushmen/Hottentots) race
  • Mongoloid (Oriental/ Amerindian) race
  • Australoid (Australian Aborigine and Papuan) race

We note here that technically, there are only three races viz. Caucasoid, mongoloid and negroid. Australoids as well as the Capoids (Hottentots and Bushmen) are considered to be sub-groups of Negroid people. In terms of population, the largest group is of Caucasoid (55%) followed by Mongoloid (33%), Negroid (8%) and Australoid (4%).


Caucasoid includes people from Europe, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Western Asia (the Middle East), parts of Central Asia and South Asia. The term Caucasian was initially a geographical term denoting the Caucasus region (Caucasia) of central Eurasia. However, later the word got many meanings including one of the races of humans.

The Caucasoids are further classified into various sub-races such as Aryans (including some Indo-Europeans), Semitic (Arabs and Israelis) Hamitic (Berber-Cushitic-Egyptian races), Nordic, Mediterranean, Dinaric, Alpine, Arabid, East Baltic, Turanid, Iranid, Armenoid and so on. Each of these sub-races is based on some geographic location.

Key Features Caucasian people
  • The people of Caucasian and its sub-races have white skin color ranging from white to dark wheatish.
  • They posses all kinds of hair including straight, blonde, wavy etc.
  • They have prominent eyes, pronounced and well-shaped nose and sharp features, medium built and average to stocky musculature.

The Caucasian people have sparse skin pigmentation and due to this reason, they are not suited to live in hot equatorial climates.


The Negroid are represented by the African people. They are also called woollen haired people. There are several sub-races of Negroids also including Aborigines, Melanesians, Negritos, Papuans, Dravidians etc. They also include a number of tribes such as Nilotic, Bantu, Sudanic, Pygmy, Khosian etc.

Salient Features
  • Most striking feature of Negroids dark skin due to dense pigmentation, coarse black and wavy hair.
  • They have wide noses and foreheads, broad, often thick lips, large built and broad skeletal structure.
  • These people have stamina and ability to survive in very adverse environmental conditions including sever heat. The dense pigmentation adapts them to strong heat and sun of equatorial regions in which this race originated.

Hottentots and Bushmen of the Kalahari. Hottentots and Bushmen are two major groups of Negroid people.


Chinese and Japanese key representatives of the Mongoloid people. They are also called straight haired people. The Amerinds (Native American Indians) are supposed to be an early offshoot while the Polynesians are a sub-group of the Mongoloids with a great deal of racial intermixture.

Thus Mongoloid group has vast and diverse geographical distribution and so “Asian” seems to be more suitable term for them. The sub-races of Mongoloids include East Asian, North Asian and Native American.

Salient Features
  • The striking feature of Mongoloids is yellowish or light wheatish skin, extremely straight and black hair, very less hair growth upon their bodies, small, almond-shaped eyes, slight built, very lean musculature and small but clear facial features.

Mongoloids can also be divided into Neo-Mongoloids and Paleo-Mongoloids also. Neo-Mongoloids include ethnic groups such as Eskimos, Buryats, Chinese, Chukchis etc. They have extremely mongoloid features. The Paleo-Mongoloids include ethnic groups such as Polynesians, Filipinos, Burmese, some Native American people etc.


The Aborigines, Melanesians, Papuans, and Negritos i.e. original natives of the Australia sub-continent come under the Australoid race.

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