African Americans, also known as Afro-Americans or Black Americans, are an ethnic group consisting of Americans with partial or total ancestry from any of the Black racial groups of Africa. African Americans constitute the third largest racial or ethnic group in the U.S. after White Americans and Hispanic and Latino Americans. The term "African American" generally denotes descendants of Africans enslaved in the United States.
Most African Americans are descendants of enslaved people within the boundaries of the present United States. While some Black immigrants or their children may also come to identify as African American, the majority of first-generation immigrants do not, preferring to identify with their nation of origin. The majority of African Americans are of West and Central African ancestry, with some admixture of Western European and Native American ancestry.
African-American history began in the 16th century, with Africans from West and Central Africa being sold to European slave traders and transported across the Atlantic to the Western Hemisphere.