In physical anthropology, Caucasian is a purported race that includes most of the natives of Europe, West Asia, North Africa, and as far east as the Indian subcontinent. This category was first proposed by the German scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, who coined the term in his treatise "On the Natural Varieties of Mankind" in 1775. His studies based the classification of the Caucasian race primarily on skull features, which Blumenbach claimed were optimized by the inhabitants of Georgia in the Caucasus mountains.
Later anthropologists such as Carleton Coon have further expanded upon the classification of the Caucasian race proposed by Blumenbach, and have subdivided the group into Nordic, Alpine, Mediterranean, and at times Dinaric and Baltic subdivisions. However, it is clearly observable that many people do not correspond easily to one such subracial type or another.
There is currently extensive debate on the scientific validity of racial classifications, and many people reject systems of racial classification as inherently arbitrary and subject to wide divergences in most populations. But Caucasian remains a common term in North America to describe whites of western European descent. However Caucasian peoples of Asian, African, or Mediterranean origin are generally excluded from the popular definition of Caucasian. As a matter of fact, the term retains some accuracy only when applied to forensic anthropology in North America. Its relevance is debatable as a physical anthropological, ethnic/cultural or socio-political concept.
While the term Caucasian is still used for the lack of a better word in describing the peoples of western Eurasia, careful speakers generally limit the term to describe the inhabitants of the Caucasus region of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, especially when describing any specific ethnic or cultural traits.