The divisions among Sephardim and their descendants today are largely a result of the consequences of the Royal edicts of expulsion.
Both the Spanish and Portuguese edicts ordered their respective Jewish residents to choose one of only three options: In the case of the Alhambra Decree of 1492, the primary purpose was to eliminate their influence on Spain's large converso population and ensure they did not revert to Judaism.
Sepharad (ספרד) still means "Spain" in modern Hebrew.
In other languages and scripts, "Sephardi" may be translated as plural Hebrew: Safārdiyyūn.
Additional to all these Sephardic Jewish groups are the descendants of those New Christian conversos who either remained in Iberia, or moved from Iberia directly to the Iberian colonial possessions across what are today the various Latin American countries.
The descendants of this group of conversos, for historical reasons and circumstances, were never able to formally return to the Jewish religion.
Historical: Ladino, Arabic, Haketia, Judeo-Portuguese, Berber, Catalanic, Shuadit, local languages Modern: Local languages, primarily Hebrew, French, English, Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Ladino, Arabic. They established communities throughout Spain and Portugal, where they traditionally resided, evolving what would become their distinctive characteristics and diasporic identity, which they took with them in their exile from Iberia beginning in the late 15th century to North Africa, Anatolia, the Levant, Southeastern and Southern Europe, as well as the Americas, and all other places of their exiled settlement, either alongside pre-existing co-religionists, or alone as the first Jews in new frontiers.
Their millennial residence as an open and organised Jewish community in Iberia was brought to an end starting with the Alhambra Decree by Spain's Catholic Monarchs in 1492, which resulted in a combination of internal and external migrations, mass conversions and executions.
Also included among Sephardi Jews are those who descend from "New Christian" conversos, but then returned to Judaism after leaving Iberia, largely after reaching Southern and Western Europe.
From these regions, many would again migrate, this time to the non-Iberian territories of the Americas.
Sephardi Jews, therefore, encompass Jews descended from those Jews who left the Iberian Peninsula as Jews by the expiration of the respective decreed deadlines.