Californio (historic and regional Spanish for "Californian") is a term used to identify a Spanish-speaking, mostly Roman Catholic people, or of Latin American descent, regardless of race, born in California before 1848. The much larger population of indigenous peoples of California were not Californios because they did not speak Spanish and/or were not Catholic. Neither were the significant numbers of non-Spanish speaking California-born children of resident foreigners (primarily U.S. and British). The military, religious and civil components of pre-1848 California society were embodied in the thinly populated presidios, missions, pueblos and ranchos. Until they were secularized in the 1830s, the twenty-one Spanish Missions of California, with their thousands of more or less captive native converts, controlled the most (about 1,000,000 acres (4,000_km) per Mission) and best land, had large numbers of workers, grew the most crops and had the most sheep, cattle and horses.
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