Race as an expression has been used in different contexts, viz. culture, tradition, language and nationality.
There has been some difference of opinion regarding the origin of different races. One school of thought argues that racial differences existed from the very beginning, while another school of thought believes that different races developed from one single ancestral species.
The scientific classification of human racial types is based on certain combinations of fixed, inherited, as far as possible measurable and visually identifiable traits, such as head shape, facial features, nose shape, eye shape and colour, skin colour, stature, blood groups etc. These traits represent morphological, biological and genetical aspects. With the inclusion of more and more traits, the number of combinations increases and the analysis becomes more complex.
There is no single way of classifying mankind into biological races. In the past, physical characteristics, such as skin colour and hair type, were used to delineate three to five biological races (Caucasoid, Negroid and Mongoloid and later, Australoid and American Indian).
More subtle techniques, taking into account blood types and hereditary diseases as well as terrain barriers, result in classifications that may include as many as eight or nine geographical races.
Although difference of opinion exists regarding terminology and the exact classification, the following divisions are generally accepted:
1. Caucasoid (European)
2. Negroid (African)
3. Mongoloid (Asiatic or Oriental)
4. Indie (Hindu)
5. Australoid (Australian aboriginals)
6. Polynesians/Melanesian/Micronesian (sometimes, these three are classified as the Oceanic)
7. American Indian.
Generally speaking, the spatial distribution and concentration of these races is—Caucasoids in Europe, Mongoloids in Asia and Negroids in Africa. But these races are not limited, in spatial extent, to these areas only. For instance, the Caucasoids race is also found along the northern belt of Africa, Turkey and from Iran to Baluchistan and India.
The Mongoloid race is mainly found in the central, eastern and south-eastern parts of Asia and the western parts of the Americas (Red Indians etc.), Arctic region (Eskimos in Canada, Greenland and Yakuts in Siberia).
In other words, the Mongoloids are clustered around the Pacific and the Arctic Oceans. The Negroids are mainly concentrated in the south of Sahara desert in Africa, but they are also found in Indonesia (pygmy group), Papua New Guinea and Melanesia. The Australoids, a mixture of Negroids and Dravidians (south India), are largely concentrated in Australia, especially in the north and west.
Physical Characteristics of Major Racial Groups:
1. Skin Colour:
The Caucasoid have pale reddish white to olive brown skin colour. Among the Mongoloids, the skin colour ranges between saffron to yellow brown, while some individuals have reddish brown skin colour. The Negroids have brown to brown-black or yellow-brown skin colour.
The Caucasoids have a medium to tall stature, while the Mongoloids are medium tall to medium short and Negroids, tall to very short.
3. Head Form:
Among the Caucasoids, head is generally long to broad and short and medium high to very high. Among the Mongoloids, head is predominantly broad and medium high, while it is predominantly long and low to medium high among Negroids.
It is narrow to medium broad and tends to be high with no prognathism, among the Caucasoids. Among the Mongoloids, it is medium broad to very broad and medium high. The face is medium broad to narrow and tends towards medium high with strong prognathism among Negroids.
Among the Caucasoids, hair colour is light brown to dark brown, texture is fine to medium and the form is straight to wavy. The body hair among the Caucasoids is moderate to profuse. Among the Mongoloids, the colour of hair is brown to brown black, texture is coarse, form is straight and body hair sparse. Among the Negroids, hair colour is brown black, texture is coarse, form is woolly or frizzly and body hair, sparse.
The colour of eyes, among the Caucasoids, is light blue to dark brown while the lateral eye- fold is occasional. Among the Mongoloids, the eye colour is brown to dark brown and the medial epicanthic fold is very common. Among the Negroids, eye colour is brown to brown black and vertical eye-fold is common.
Among the Caucasoids, the nasal bridge is usually high and the form, narrow to medium broad. The nasal bridge, among the Mongoloids, is usually low to medium and the form, medium broad. Among the Negroids, the nasal bridge is usually low and the form, medium broad to very broad.
8. Body Shape:
Among the Caucasoids, it is linear to lateral and slender to rugged. Among the Mongoloids, it tends to be lateral with some linearity and among the Negroids, the body shape is lateral and muscular.
9. Blood Group:
Among the Caucasoids, frequency of A is more than that of B, while the Mongoloids have more B than A and the Negroids have both A and B.