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A San man.

Khoisan is a name for a race today mainly living in southwestern Africa, especially in the vicinity of the Kalahari Desert.


The term "Capoids" was proposed in 1962 by anthropologist Carleton S. Coon. He divided the Sub-Saharan Africans into Congoids (from an argued origin near Congo) and Capoids (from an argued origin near the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa).[1]

The modern term "Khoisan" is a more recent neologism. It is a fusion of the two branches of this race: The Khoikhoi ("Hottentots") pastoralists and the San ("Bushmen") hunter-gatherers.


The Khoisan together with the Pygmies and other Africans evolved from the original Homo sapiens peoples of equatorial East Africa. The ancestors of the Bushmen migrated south and by about 100,000 years ago occupied most of southern Africa. Until around 1,500 years ago, the Khoisan occupied most of southern Africa and the Pygmies occupied the rain forests of west and central Africa. From about 500 AD, the Bantu expansion from the north began to encroach on their lands, killed large numbers of them, and drove most of the surviving Khoisan into the Kalahari desert and surrounding areas and drove the Pygmies into the dense rain forests of central Africa.[2]

Many of the Khoikhoi are of mixed race with some European ancestry, which has given them lighter skin color and taller stature than the San.[2]

In South Africa, the term Coloured is used for a mixed race group with heterogeneous origins. A large share of the maternal ancestry is Khoisan according to genetic studies.[3]


  1. Carleton S. Coon. The Origin of Races (1962)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lynn, Richard. (2006). Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis. Augusta, GA: Washington Summit Publishers.
  3. Quintana-Murci L, Harmant C, Quach H, Balanovsky O, Zaporozhchenko V, Bormans C et al. (2010) Strong maternal Khoisan contribution to the South African coloured population: a case of gender-biased admixture. Am J Hum Genet 86 (4):611-20.