Hispanics and Latinos constitute 15.1% of the total United States population, or 45.4 million people, forming the second largest ethnic group after non-Hispanic White Americans (itself composed of dozens of ethnic groups). Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, Colombian Americans, Dominican Americans, Puerto Rican Americans, and Salvadoran Americans are some of the Hispanic and Latino American sub-groups.
People of Hispanic or Latino heritage have lived continuously in the territory of the present-day United States since the 1565 founding of St. Augustine, Florida by the Spanish, the longest among European American ethnic groups and second-longest of all U.S. ethnic groups, after American Indians. Hispanic communities have also been living continuously in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, and California since the 18th century.
For the U.S. government and others, Hispanic or Latino identity is voluntary, as in the United States Census, and in some market research.
In the United States, Hispanic and Latino are the main terms employed to categorize any person, of any racial or ethnic background, who is of Hispanic American or Spanish origin or descent. However, although the 1990 census definition expressly mentioned "Spain", the Census 2000 and ACS definitions do not. They do use the term "Spanish", but the meaning of this word may be ambiguous, owing to its former use for all Hispanic people, via phrases such as "Spanish origin population". (More on this below)
The term Hispanic was first adopted in the United States by the administration of Richard Nixon, and has since been used in local and federal employment, mass media, academia, and business market research. It has been used in the US Census since 1980. Due to the widespread, popular use of "Latino", the government adopted this term as well in 1997, and it was used in the 2000 census.
The term "Hispanic" is often confused with "Spanish". The Spanish (or Spaniards) are the people who are native to or who have origins in Spain, located in mainland Europe.
Previously, Hispanics were categorized as "Spanish-Americans," "Spanish-speaking Americans," and "Spanish-surnamed Americans." These terms, however, proved misleading or inaccurate, since:
The terms Hispanic and Latino are not held to be synonymous by all authorities of American English, as seen in the following quotation:
"Though often used interchangeably in American English, Hispanic and Latino are not identical terms, and in certain contexts the choice between them can be significant. Hispanic, from the Latin word for "Spain," has the broader reference, potentially encompassing all Spanish-speaking peoples in both hemispheres and emphasizing the common denominator of language among communities that sometimes have little else in common. Latino—which in Spanish means "Latin" but which as an English word is probably a shortening of the Spanish word latinoamericano—refers more exclusively to persons or communities of Latin American origin. Of the two, only Hispanic can be used in referring to Spain and its history and culture; a native of Spain residing in the United States is a Hispanic, not a Latino, and one cannot substitute Latino in the phrase the Hispanic influence on native Mexican cultures without garbling the meaning. In practice, however, this distinction is of little significance when referring to residents of the United States, most of whom are of Latin American origin and can theoretically be called by either word."Neither term refers to race, as a person of Latino or Hispanic descent can be of any race.
As officially defined in the United States, Latino does not include Brazilian Americans, and specifically refers to "Spanish culture or origin," although some dictionary definitions may include them or Brazilians in general. Furthermore, Hispanic or Latino origin is, like race, a matter of self-identification in the U.S., and government and non-government questionnaires, including the census form, usually contain a blank entry space wherein respondents can indicate a Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin other than the few (Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban) which are specified; presumably, any Brazilian American wishing to do so can thus self-identify as being of Latino origin (as can anyone with no Latin American background). However, the government's population reports do not include Brazilian Americans with Hispanics and Latinos.
A continuous Hispanic presence in the territory of the United States has existed since the 16th century, earlier than any other group after the Native Americans. Spaniards pioneered the present–day United States. The first confirmed European landing in the continental U.S. was by Juan Ponce de León, who landed in 1513 at a lush shore he christened La Florida. Within three decades of Ponce de León's landing, the Spanish became the first Europeans to reach the Appalachian Mountains, the Mississippi River, the Grand Canyon and the Great Plains. Spanish ships sailed along the East Coast, penetrating to present-day Bangor, Maine, and up the Pacific Coast as far as Oregon. From 1528 to 1536, four castaways from a Spanish expedition, including a "Moor", journeyed all the way from Florida to the Gulf of California, 267 years before the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
In 1540 Hernando de Soto undertook an extensive exploration of the present U.S., and in the same year Francisco Vásquez de Coronado led 2,000 Spaniards and Mexican Indians across today's Arizona–Mexico border and traveled as far as central Kansas, close to the exact geographic center of what is now the continental United States. Other Spanish explorers of the US make up a long list that includes, among others: Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón, Pánfilo de Narváez, Sebastián Vizcaíno, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, Gaspar de Portolà, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Tristán de Luna y Arellano and Juan de Oñate. In all, Spaniards probed half of today's lower 48 states before the first English colonization attempt at Roanoke Island in 1585.
The Spanish created the first permanent European settlement in the continental United States, at St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565. Santa Fe, New Mexico also predates Jamestown, Virginia (founded in 1607) and Plymouth Colony (of Mayflower and Pilgrims fame; founded in 1620). Later came Spanish settlements in San Antonio, Texas, Tucson, Arizona, San Diego, California, Los Angeles, California and San Francisco, California, to name just a few. The Spanish even established a Jesuit mission in Virginia's Chesapeake Bay 37 years before the founding of Jamestown.
Two iconic American stories have Spanish antecedents, too. Almost 80 years before John Smith's alleged rescue by Pocahontas, a man by the name of Juan Ortiz told of his remarkably similar rescue from execution by an Indian girl. Spaniards also held a thanksgiving — 56 years before the famous Pilgrims festival — when they feasted near St. Augustine with Florida Indians, probably on stewed pork and garbanzo beans. As late as 1783, at the end of the American Revolutionary War, Spain held claim to roughly half of today's continental United States; in 1775, Spanish ships even reached Alaska. From 1819 to 1848, the United States (through treaties, purchase, diplomacy, and the Mexican-American War) increased its area by roughly a third at Spanish and Mexican expense, acquiring three of today's four most populous states — California, Texas and Florida — and several smaller ones. Hispanics became the first American citizens in these new territories, and remained a majority in several Southwestern states until the 20th century. (See also Viceroyalty of New Spain.)
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As of July 1, 2006, Hispanics accounted for 14.8% of the national population, around 44.3 million people. (15.1%, around 45.4 million, in July, 2007.) The Hispanic growth rate over the July 1, 2005 to July 1, 2006 period was 3.4% — higher than any other minority group in the United States, and in fact three and a half times the rate of the nation's total population (at 1.0%). The projected Hispanic population of the United States for July 1, 2050, is of 102.6 million people, or 24.4% of the nation’s total projected population on that date.
Of the nation's total Hispanic or Latino population, 49% (21.5 million) lives in California or Texas. Not counting Puerto Rico — which is a territorial possession of the United States — New Mexico is the state with the highest ratio of Hispanics, where 44.7% is of Hispanic origin. Next are California and Texas, with 35.9 and 35.6, respectively.
The Hispanic population of Los Angeles County, California, numbering 4.7 million, is the largest of any county in the nation. It comprises 47 percent of Los Angeles County's ten million residents.
|Other Central American||115,064||0.3|
|Other South American||72,541||0.2|
Some 64% of the nation's Hispanic population are of Mexican ancestry (see table). Another 9% are of Puerto Rican background, with about 3% each of Cuban, Salvadoran and Dominican origins. The remainder are of other Central American or South American descent, or of descent directly from Spain. About 7% are of unspecified national origins.
The overwhelming majority of Mexican Americans are concentrated in the Southwestern United States, primarily California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. The majority of the Hispanic population in the Southeastern United States, concentrated in Florida, are of Cuban origin. The Hispanic population in the Northeastern United States, concentrated in New York and New Jersey, is composed mostly of Puerto Ricans, however, the Dominican population has risen considerably in the last decade. The remainder of Hispanics, composed of various Central American and South American origins, may be found throughout the country, though South Americans tend to concentrate on the East Coast (joining Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Cubans) and Central Americans on the West Coast (joining Mexicans/Mexican Americans).
There are few recent immigrants directly from Spain. In the 2000 Census, 299,948 Americans specifically reported their ancestry as Spaniard. Additionally, in the 2000 Census some 2,187,144 Americans reported "Spanish" as their ancestry.
The Census Bureau reports a decrease in the percentages of Hispanics, of all national groups, including Spaniards, who identify themselves with a specific national origin, in favor of general labels such as "Hispanic". Several long–established Hispanic communities within the present–day territory of the United States do clearly fall within a traditional national origin category. One example is the Hispanic population of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. These peoples trace their ancestry to Spanish settlers who arrived in the region during the late 16th century through the 17th century. People from this background often self-identify as "Hispano," "Spanish," or "Hispanic." Many of these settlers also intermarried with local Amerindians, creating a mestizo population. Likewise, southern Louisiana is home to communities of people of Canary Islands descent, known as Isleños, in addition to other people of Spanish ancestry.
|Race by Hispanic Origin (2000)|
|Country of Origin||White||Black||Some Other Race|
Hispanic or Latino origin is independent of race and is termed "ethnicity" by the United States Census Bureau. The racial categories are six: American Indian and Alaska Native, White, Black or African American, Asian, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, Some other race, and Two or more races. The distinction made by government agencies for those within the population of each race category is between those with Hispanic ethnic backgrounds and all others of non-Hispanic ethnic backgrounds.
A majority of Hispanic and Latino Americans are white, per both sets of government estimates: a slight majority of 52% is white per the American Community Survey, a figure which rises to 93% in the Population Estimates Program, which are the official estimates. This is due to the absence of the Some other race category from the official estimates, which instead reallocate it among the five standard, minimum race categories, mostly the white category.
Hispanic Americans have held important positions at all levels of US government.
Hispanics and Latinos in the Federal Cabinet include, among others, Lauro Cavazos, former Secretary of Education; Alberto Gonzales, former United States Attorney General; Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce; and Bill Richardson, former Secretary of Energy and Ambassador to the United Nations.
In the House of Representatives, Hispanic and Latino representatives have included Romualdo Pacheco, Ladislas Lazaro, Antonio M. Fernández, Henry B. Gonzalez, Kika de la Garza, Herman Badillo, and Manuel Lujan, Jr., out of almost two dozen former Representatives. Current Representatives include Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Joe Baca, Silvestre Reyes, Nydia Velázquez, Rubén Hinojosa, Linda Sánchez, and John Salazar; in all, they number twenty-three. Senators include former senators Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo, Dennis Chavez, and Joseph Montoya and current senators Mel Martinez, Ken Salazar, and Bob Menendez.
Governors include former governors Romualdo Pacheco, Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo, and Bob Martinez, as well as current New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. Numerous Hispanic or Latino mayors and local executives, and state and local legislators have held and currently hold office throughout the United States.
There are many Hispanic American musicians that have achieved international fame, such as Selena, Linda Ronstadt, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin, Joan Baez, Carlos Santana, Gloria Estefan and Zack de la Rocha. Latino and Hispanic music remains popular in the United States and around the world.
Hispanics and Latinos have also contributed many prominent actors and entertainers in the television and film industries, past and present, a few of whom includes Jessica Alba, Jennifer Lopez, Ricardo Montalban, Tamala Jones, Lisa Rodriguez, Eva Mendes, Frankie J, Cameron Diaz, Jimmy Smits, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, Martin Sheen, Rita Hayworth, Eva Longoria Parker, Joaquin Phoenix, George Lopez, Maria Montez, Andy Garcia, Edward James Olmos, Rita Moreno, Anthony Quinn, Raquel Welch, Desi Arnaz, Robert Rodriguez, Erik Estrada, and Marquita Rivera the first Puerto Rican actress to appear in a major Hollywood feature film.
Created in 1995 The American Latino Media Arts Award, or ALMA Award is a distinction awarded given to Latino performers (actors, film and television directors, and musicians) by the National Council of La Raza. This awards fesival is commonly referred to as the "Latin American Oscars" in North America. The most prestigious Latin music awards today are the Latin Grammy Awards launched in 2000. In addition to the Latin Grammy Awards Billboard Magazine also honors this artis in the Billboard Latin Music Awards. Differences between the Latin Grammy Awards and the Billbord Latin Music Awards are that the Billboard Latin Music Awards nominees and winners are a result of performance on Billboard's sales and radio charts and the Latin Grammy Awards nominees and winners are selected by the Latin Recording Academy (LARAS). In addition the Latin Grammy Awards airs in Univision will the Billboard Latin Music Awards airs at Telemundo. The two major Spanish-language television network competitors in the United States.
Many Hispanic Americans have excelled in sports. The large number of Hispanic and Latino American athletes that have starred in Major League Baseball includes Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, as well as National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum members Roberto Clemente and Rod Carew.
Boxing champion Oscar De La Hoya, National Football League Pro Football Hall of Fame player Anthony Muñoz, National Soccer Hall of Fame player Tab Ramos, tennis legend Pancho Gonzales, and World Golf Hall of Fame golfers Juan "Chi-Chi" Rodríguez and Lee Trevino are all Hispanic or Latino Americans who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields of sport. In 1999 Scott Gomez became the first Hispanic player in the National Hockey League.
Among Hispanic Americans that have excelled in science, we find Luis Walter Alvarez, Nobel Prize-winning physicist, and his son Walter Alvarez, the geologist who first proposed the well-known asteroid collision theory of dinosaur extinction; Ellen Ochoa, pioneer of spacecraft technology and astronaut; Juan R. Cruz, NASA aerospace engineer; and Lieutenant Colonel Carlos I. Noriega, NASA mission specialist and computer scientist. Franklin Chang-Diaz a Costa Rican-American astronaut who holds two records for being first Latin American (for NASA) and for most flights into space and is the leading researcher on the plasma engine for rockets.
Hispanic and Latino participation in the military of the United States has occurred since the founding of the republic, and military recruitment is quite active in the nation's Hispanic communities. Tens of thousands of Latinos are deployed in the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, and US military missions and bases elsewhere.
Some Cuban immigrants were from privileged socioeconomic positions, and were fleeing Fidel Castro's communist government.
Among Hispanics, Cuban Americans (28.5 percent) had the highest percentage in professional–managerial occupations, but that percentage was lower than the average for non–Hispanics (36.2 percent). In comparison, the percentage for Puerto Ricans was 20.7, Central and South Americans' was 16.8 percent and Mexican Americans' was 13.2 percent.
According to the 2000 census, Cuban Americans and Central and South Americans had the highest college graduation rates, with 19.4 percent of Cuban Americans and 16 percent of Central and South Americans 25 years and older achieving a 4–year college degree. Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans and Dominican Americans had considerably lower college graduation rates, with only 6.2 percent of Mexican Americans, 9.9 of Puerto Ricans and 10.9 of Dominican Americans achieving a 4–year college degree. In comparison non–Hispanic Asian Americans (43.3 percent) and non–Hispanic White Americans (26.1 percent) had a higher graduation rate than all Hispanic American groups. Non–Hispanic Black Americans (14.4 percent) had a lower graduation rate than Cuban Americans and Central and South Americans but had a higher graduation rate than Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans and Dominican Americans.
Cuban Americans have the highest attainment of graduate degrees among all Hispanic groups, with 6.7 percent. The Central and South Americans ratio is 4.2 percent. Both are lower than those of non–Hispanic Asian Americans (15.6 percent) and non–Hispanic White Americans (8.7 percent). Non–Hispanic Black Americans (4.1 percent) have a higher percentage of graduate level degrees than all Hispanic groups with the exception of Cuban Americans and South and Central Americans. Of those 25 years and older only 3.1 percent of Puerto Ricans, 1.8 percent of Dominican Americans and 1.4 percent of Mexican Americans have attained a graduate level degree.
In 2006, Time Magazine reported that the number of hate groups in the United States increased by 33 percent since 2000, primarily due to anti-illegal immigrant and anti-Mexican sentiment.
According to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics, the number of anti-Latino hate crimes increased by 35 percent since 2003. In California, the state with the largest Latino population, the number of hate crimes against Latinos has almost doubled.
Hispanics and Latinos differ on their political views depending on their location and background, but the majority (57%) identify themselves as Democrats or support the Democrats, as reflected in the voting results of recent decades. 23% of Hispanics and Latinos identify themselves as Republicans. The 34% percentage point gap as of December, 2007 was an increase from the gap of 21 points 16 months earlier. Cubans and Colombians tend to favor conservative political ideologies and support the Republicans, while Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans tend to favor liberal views and support the Democrats; however, because the latter groups are far more numerous, Mexican Americans alone are 64% of Hispanics and Latinos, the Democratic Party is considered to be in a far stronger position among Hispanics overall.
The Presidency of George W. Bush has had a significant impact on the political leanings of Hispanics and Latinos. As a former Governor of Texas, President Bush has regarded this growing community as a potential source of growth for the conservative movement and the Republican Party, and he made some gains for the Republican Party among the group.
In the 1996 presidential election, 72% of Hispanics backed President Bill Clinton, but in 2000, that Democratic total fell to 62%, and down further to 58% in 2004, with Democrat John Kerry winning Hispanics 58-40 over Bush. Hispanics in the West, especially in California, were much stronger for the Democratic Party than in Texas and Florida. California Latinos voted 63-32 for John Kerry in 2004, and both Arizona and New Mexico Latinos by a smaller 56-43 margin, but Texas Latinos were split nearly evenly (50-49 for Kerry), and Florida Latinos (mostly being Cuban American) backed Bush by a 54-45 margin.
In the 2006 midterm election, however, due to the unpopularity of the Iraq War, the heated debate concerning illegal immigration, and Republican-related Congressional scandals, Latinos went as strongly Democratic as they have since the Clinton years. Exit polls showed Hispanic and Latino Americans voting for Democrats by a lopsided 69-30 margin, with Florida Latinos for the first time split evenly. The runoff election in Texas' 23rd congressional district was seen as a bellwether of Latino politics, and Democrat Ciro Rodriguez's unexpected (and unexpectedly decisive) defeat of Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla was seen as proof of a leftward lurch among Latino voters, as heavily Latino counties overwhelmingly backed Rodriguez, and heavily Anglo counties overwhelmingly backed Bonilla. There has been talk in the media that the heated Republican opposition to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 may have done significant damage to the Republican party's appeal to Hispanics and Latinos in the years to come, especially in the swing states such as Florida, Nevada, and Colorado.
In the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, Hispanics and Latinos have been participating in large numbers in the Democratic primary. They have often preferred Hillary Clinton. In the matchup between Democratic candidate Barack Obama and Republican candidate John McCain as of June 2008 for the presidential race, Hispanics and Latinos supported Senator Barack Obama 59% to Senator John McCain's 29% in the Gallup tracking poll. 18% of participants identified themselves as Republicans in the same Gallup poll that polled 4,604 registered Hispanic voters.
The usual pattern is monolingual Spanish usage among new migrants or older foreign–born Hispanics, complete bilingualism among long settled immigrants and the children of immigrants (children and grandchildren of immigrants often speak mostly English with some Spanish words and phrases thrown in), and the use of English and/or Spanglish and colloquial Spanish within long established Hispanic communities by the third generation and beyond.
The United States is home to thousands of Spanish language media outlets, which range in size from giant commercial broadcasting networks and major magazines with circulations numbering in the millions, to low-power AM radio stations with listeners numbering in the hundreds. There are hundreds of Internet media outlets targeting U.S. Hispanic consumers, some of which are online versions of their printed counterparts and others online exclusively.
Among the noteworthy Spanish-language media outlets are:
In the aspect of public television, otherwise known as non-commercial television, there are organizations that advocate a greater degree of programming from a Hispanic or Latino perspective. The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) has been a leader since its founding in 1986 in advocating for Latino inclusion in television, radio and film. In 1999, along with a board coalition of national Latino organizations, the NHMC led a "brownout" of the national television networks after discovering that there were no Latinos in any of their new prime time shows that year. This resulted in the signing of historic diversity agreements with ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC that have increased the hiring of Hispanic and Latino talent and other staff in all of the networks since then. Also prominent in this area is Latino Public Broadcasting, which funds programs of educational and cultural significance to Hispanic Americans. These LPB-funded projects are distributed to various public television stations throughout the United States.