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Hispanic and Latino Americans are Americansmarker of origins in Hispanic countries of Latin America or in Spainmarker - "Mexican," "Puerto Rican," or "Cuban" - as well as those who indicate that they are "other Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino." Origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person's parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. People who identify their origin as Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino may be of any race.

Hispanics and Latinos constitute 15.4% of the total United Statesmarker population, or 46.89 million people, forming the second largest ethnic group, after non-Hispanic White Americans (which is also composed of dozens of sub-groups). Again, Hispanic and Latino Americans are the largest ethnic minority in the United States; Black Americans, in turn, are the largest racial minority, after White Americans in general (non-Hispanic and Hispanic). Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, Colombian Americans, Dominican Americans, Puerto Rican Americans, Spanish 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, Floridamarker by the Spanishmarker, the longest among European American ethnic groups and second-longest of all U.S. ethnic groups, after American Indians. Hispanics have also lived continuously in the Southwest since near the end of the 16th century, with settlements in New Mexico that began in 1598, and which were transferred to the area of El Paso, Texasmarker in 1680. Spanish settlement of New Mexico resumed in 1692, and new ones were established in Arizonamarker and Californiamarker in the 18th century. The Hispanic presence can even be said to date from half a century earlier than St. Augustine, if San Juan, Puerto Ricomarker is considered to be the oldest Spanish settlement, and the oldest city, in the U.S.

For the U.S. government and others, Hispanic or Latino identity is voluntary, as in the United States Census, and in some market research.


The term Hispanic was first adopted by the United States government during 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 U.S. Census since 1980. Due to the popular use of "Latino" in the western portion of the United States, the government adopted this term as well in 1997, and it was used in the 2000 census.

Previously, Hispanics were categorized as "Spanish-Americans," "Spanish-speaking Americans," and "Spanish-surnamed Americans". These terms, however, proved misleading or inaccurate, since:

  • Most U.S. Hispanics can speak Spanish, not all; and most Spanish-speaking people are Hispanic, not all (e.g., many U.S. Hispanics by the fourth generation no longer speak Spanish, while some who are Spanish-speaking may not identify themselves with Spanish-speaking Americans as a group;
  • Many, perhaps most, Hispanics have a Spanish surname, not all do (notable examples of the latter include New Mexicomarker governor Bill Richardson and NFL star Jim Plunkett), and most Spanish-surnamed people are Hispanic, not all. For example, there are many Filipino Americans, Chamorros (Guamaniansmarker and Northern Mariana Islandersmarker), Palauansmarker, Micronesians marker, and Marshallesemarker with Spanish surnames in the United States who, however, have their own, non-Hispanic ethnic identities. Likewise, while a number of Louisiana Creole people have Spanish surnames, they identify with the mostly French – though partially Spanish – culture of the region.

The terms Hispanic and Latino are held to be mutually distinct by some 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 origin can be of any race.

As employed by the Census Bureau, Hispanic or 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.

Listed here are the 28 Hispanic or Latino categories displayed in Census 2000 tabulations: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican Republic; Central American: Costa Rican, Guatemalan, Honduran, Nicaraguan, Panamanian, Salvadoran, Other Central American; South American: Argentinian, Bolivian, Chilean, Colombian, Ecuadorian, Paraguayan, Peruvian, Uruguayan, Venezuelan, Other South American; Other Hispanic or Latino: Spaniard, Spanish, Spanish American, All other Hispanic.


A continuous Hispanic/Latino 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 Floridamarker. Within three decades of Ponce de León's landing, the Spanish became the first Europeans to reach the Appalachian Mountainsmarker, the Mississippi River, the Grand Canyonmarker and the Great Plainsmarker. Spanish ships sailed along the East Coast, penetrating to present-day Bangor, Mainemarker, and up the Pacific Coast as far as Oregonmarker. From 1528 to 1536, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and three other castaways from a Spanish expedition (including an African named Estevanico) journeyed all the way from Florida to the Gulf of Californiamarker, 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 Vázquez de Coronado led 2,000 Spaniards and Mexican Indians across today's ArizonamarkerMexicomarker border and traveled as far as central Kansasmarker, 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, Gaspar de Portolà, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Tristán de Luna y Arellano and Juan de Oñate, but also non-Spanish explorers working for the Spanish Crown like Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. In all, Spaniards probed half of today's lower 48 states before the first English colonization attempt at Roanoke Islandmarker in 1585.

The Spanish created the first permanent European settlement in the continental United States, at St. Augustine, Floridamarker, in 1565. Santa Fe, New Mexicomarker 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, Texasmarker, Tucson, Arizonamarker, San Diego, Californiamarker, Los Angeles, Californiamarker and San Francisco, Californiamarker, to name just a few. The Spanish even established a Jesuit mission in Virginiamarker'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 Alaskamarker. 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 — Californiamarker, Texasmarker and Floridamarker — 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.)

Hispanic soldiers have fought in all the wars of the United States. See also List of Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients.


Hispanic Population by state (2006)
State Population % of state

New Mexicomarker 860,687 44.0
Californiamarker 13,074,155 35.9
Texasmarker 8,385,118 35.7
Arizonamarker 1,803,377 29.2
Nevadamarker 610,051 24.4
Floridamarker 3,642,989 20.1
Coloradomarker 934,410 19.7
New Yorkmarker 3,139,590 16.3
New Jerseymarker 1,364,699 15.6
Illinoismarker 1,888,439 14.7
As of July 1, 2007, Hispanics accounted for 15.1% of the national population, or around 45.4 million people. The Hispanic growth rate over the April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2007 period was 28.7% — about four times the rate of the nation's total population (at 7.2%). The much larger official figure is due to the absence of the Some other race category from these estimates, which instead reallocate that category among the five standard, minimum, single-race categories, mostly the white category. The complete 2007 Hispanic or Latino racial breakdown is as follows: White 92% (official) or 54% (ACS); Black or African American 3.8% (official) or 1.5% (ACS); American Indian and Alaska Native 1.4% (official) or 0.8% (ACS); Asian 0.6% (official) or 0.3% (ACS); Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.3% (official) or 0.07% (ACS); Some other race 40% (ACS only; not an official race); Two or more races 0.6% (official) or 3.8% (ACS).

Though comprising very small percentages of the overall Hispanic and Latino American population, and even more so in comparison to the total U.S. population, some of the preceding racial subgroups make up large minorities among the respective racial groups. For instance, Hispanics and Latinos who are American Indian or Alaska Native compose 15% of all American Indians and Alaska Natives (per the ACS estimates). Meanwhile, the 120,000 Hispanics and Latinos who are of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander race compose 22% of this entire race nationally (per the Population Estimates). Again, nearly a third of the overall 'Two or more race' population is Hispanic or Latino (ACS).

Notable personalities and contributions

Hispanic and Latino Americans have made many distinguished contributions to the United States in all major fields, such as politics, the military, music, literature, philosophy, sports, business and economy, and science.

On September 17, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson designated a week in mid-September as National Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan extended that week to a month-long observance. The National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for Americans to educate themselves about the influence Hispanic culture has had on society.


The president of the family–owned Goya Foods.

Hispanic and Latino business leaders include Cuban immigrant Roberto Goizueta, who rose to head of The Coca-Cola Company. Advertising magnate Arte Moreno became the first Hispanic to own a major league team in the United States when he purchased the Los Angeles Angels baseball club. The largest Hispanic-owned food company in the U.S. is Goya Foods, which position it attained under World War II hero Joseph A. Unanue, the son of the company's founders. Angel Ramos was the founder of Telemundo, Puerto Rico's first television station and now the second largest Spanish language television network in the United States, with an average viewership over one million in primetime. Samuel A. Ramirez, Sr. made Wall Streetmarker history by becoming the first Hispanic to launch a successful investment banking firm, Ramirez & Co. International graphic design guru Kenley Diaz is the developer of the Diaz Method of Design, and the founder of the burgeoning pharma-design industry. Once lauded for his business acumen, today, he is best known for his inventive design style and fashion panache. Business mogul Linda G. Alvarado is president and CEO of Alvarado Construction, Inc and co-owner of the Colorado Rockies baseball team. Nina Tassler president of CBS Entertainment since September 2004. She is the highest profile Latina in network television and one of the few executives who has the power to greenlight series.

Fashion design

In the world of fashion, notable contributions have been made by many Hispanic and Latino designers including Oscar de la Renta, Marisol Deluna, Carolina Herrera, and Narciso Rodriguez among others.


Hispanic Americans have held important positions at all levels of US government.

Since 1988, when Ronald Reagan appointed the first Hispanic federal Cabinet member Lauro Cavazos as Secretary of Education, Hispanic Americans have had an increasing presence in the cabinet. Hispanics and Latinos in the cabinet include Ken Salazar, current Secretary of the Interior; Hilda Solis, current United States Secretary of Labor; Alberto Gonzales, former United States Attorney General; Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce; Federico Peña, former Secretary of Energy; Manuel Lujan, Jr., former Secretary of the Interior; and Bill Richardson, former Secretary of Energy and Ambassador to the United Nations.

Governors include former governors Romualdo Pacheco, Bob Martinez, and current New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. Former senators are Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo,Mel Martinez, Dennis Chavez, Joseph Montoya, and Ken Salazar. Bob Menendez is the only current senator.

In the House of Representatives, Hispanic and Latino representatives have included Ladislas Lazaro, Antonio M. Fernández, Henry B. Gonzalez, Kika de la Garza, Herman Badillo, Romualdo Pacheco, and Manuel Lujan, Jr., out of almost two dozen former Representatives. Current Representatives include Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Nydia Velázquez, Joe Baca, Silvestre Reyes, Rubén Hinojosa, Linda Sánchez, Luis Vicente Gutiérrez, and John Salazar – in all, they number twenty-three. Numerous Hispanic or Latino mayors and local executives, and state and local legislators have held and currently hold office throughout the United States.

In 2009, Sonia Sotomayor became the first Supreme Courtmarker Associate Justice of Latin American origin.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, and the Congressional Hispanic Conference (CHC), founded on March 19, 2003, are two organizations that promote policy of importance to Americans of Hispanic descent. They are divided into the two major American political parties: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is composed entirely of Democratic representatives, whereas the Congressional Hispanic Conference is composed entirely of Republican representatives.


Among the distinguished Hispanic and Latino authors and their works may be noted:


Hispanics and Latinos have participated in the military of the United States and in every major military conflict from the American Revolution onward, being the first to die, in some cases. As of date 43 Hispanics and Latinos have been awarded the nation's highest military distinction, the Medal of Honor, also known as the Congressional Medal of Honor. Hispanics and Latinos have not only distinguished themselves in the battlefields, but are also reaching the high echelons of the military, serving their country in sensitive leadership positions on domestic and foreign shores. 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. The following is a list of notable Hispanics/Latinos in the military:

Performing arts


Created in 1995, the American Latino Media Arts Award, or ALMA Award is a distinction given to Latino performers (actors, film and television directors, and musicians) by the National Council of La Raza. The most prestigious Latin music awards are the Latin Grammy Awards, launched in 2000. Billboard Magazine also honors these artists, with the Billboard Latin Music Awards. The latter's nominees and winners are a result of performance on Billboard's sales and radio charts, while the Latin Grammy Awards nominees and winners are selected by the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (LARAS). In addition, the Latin Grammy Awards airs on Univision, while the Billboard Latin Music Awards airs on Telemundo; these are the two major Spanish-language television networks in the United States.

There are many Hispanic American musicians that have achieved international fame, such as Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Joan Baez, Linda Ronstadt, Zack de la Rocha,Fergie, Gloria Estefan, Kat DeLuna, Selena, Ricky Martin, Carlos Santana, Marc Anthony, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Mariah Carey, Ritchie Valens, Frankie J, and Robert Trujillo.


Hispanics and Latinos have also contributed prominent actors and others in the film industries, past and present, a few of whom includes director, producer, and cinematographer Robert Rodriguez. Robert Rodriguez has his own film production company Troublemaker Studios. Hispanic and Latino actors in film include Anthony Quinn,Cameron Diaz, Martin Sheen, Salma Hayek, Dolores del Río, Rita Hayworth, Raquel Welch, Benicio del Toro, Jessica Alba, Eva Mendes, Michelle Rodriguez, Zoe Saldaña, Alexis Bledel, Danny Trejo, Edward James Olmos, Maria Montez, Ricardo Montalban, Jimmy Smits, Katy Jurado, Marquita Rivera, Rita Moreno, Lupe Vélez, Andy Garcia, Rosario Dawson, John Leguizamo and Eva Longoria.


With respect to 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, together with numerous Latino civil rights 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 since increased the hiring of Hispanic and Latino talent and other staff in all of the networks. 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.

Kenny Ortega an Emmy award-winning American producer, director, and choreographer who has choreographed many major television events such as Super Bowl XXX, the 72nd Academy Awards and Michael Jacksons memorial service. A few Actors and others in the, television past and present history, include Charlie Sheen, Desi Arnaz, Lynda Carter, Eva Longoria Parker, George Lopez, Benjamin Bratt, America Ferrera, Amaury Nolasco, Sara Ramírez, Erik Estrada, Cote de Pablo, Lauren Vélez, Oscar Nunez, Wilmer Valderrama, Aimee Garcia, Joanna García, Lupe Ontiveros, Rosie Perez, Eva La Rue, Mario Lopez, Nadine Velazquez, Ricardo Antonio Chavira, and Paula Garcés. Dora the Explorer an animated television series that is carried on the Nickelodeon cable television network centers on a young Latina girl.

Science, Engineering, and Technology

Among Hispanic Americans who have excelled in science we find Luis Walter Alvarez, Nobel Prize-winning physicist; his son Walter Alvarez, the geologist who first proposed the asteroid collision theory of dinosaur extinction; and Ellen Ochoa, pioneer of spacecraft technology and astronaut.

Several other Latinos have made a name for themselves in aeronautics, among them: Juan R. Cruz, NASAmarker aerospace engineer; France A. Córdova, former NASA chief scientist; Franklin Chang-Diaz holds two records for being the first Latin American (for NASA) and for most flights into space, and is the leading researcher on the plasma engine for rockets; Lieutenant Carlos I. Noriega is NASA mission specialist and computer scientist; Michael Lopez-Alegria, Sidney Gutierrez, John Olivas, Joseph Acaba, George Zamka, Jose Hernández, and Fernando Caldeiro are all current or former astronauts.


Manny Ramirez

Many Hispanic Americans have excelled in sports. The large number of Hispanic and Latino American stars in Major League Baseball (MLB) includes players Manny Ramirez, Lefty Gomez, Ivan Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Hernandez, Roberto Clemente, Eric Chavez, Jorge Cantú, David Ortiz, Sid Monge, Nomar Garciaparra, Albert Pujols, and managers Al Lopez and Ozzie Guillén.

There have been far fewer football and basketball players, let alone star players, but Tom Flores the first Hispanic head coach, the first Hispanic quarterback in American professional football, won Super Bowls as a player, as assistant coach and as head coach for the Oakland Raiders. Anthony Muñoz enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Famemarker ranked #17 on Sporting News' 1999 list of the 100 greatest football players and was the highest-ranked offensive lineman. Jim Plunkett who won the Heisman Trophy and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Famemarker, Joe Kapp inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Famemarker. Steve Van Buren, Martin Gramatica, Tony Gonzalez, Marc Bulger, Tony Romo and Mark Sanchez can also be cited in National Football League (NFL). Trevor Ariza, Mark Aguirre, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Arroyo, Jose Calderon, and Charlie Villanueva can be cited in basketball in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Diana Taurasi professional basketball player in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). Taurasi became just the seventh player ever to win an National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) title, a WNBA title as well as an Olympic gold medal.

Boxing's first Hispanic world champion was Panama Al Brown. Some other champions include Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Bobby Chacon, BJ Flores and Olympic medallist Paul Gonzales.

In 1999 Scott Gomez became the first Hispanic player in the National Hockey League (NHL) and won the NHL Rookie of the Year Award.

Tennis legend Pancho Gonzales and Olympic tennis champions and professional players Mary Joe Fernandez and Gigi Fernandez; soccer players in the Major League Soccer (MLS) Tab Ramos, Claudio Reyna, Marcelo Balboa and Carlos Bocanegra; figure skater Rudy Galindo; golfers Chi Chi Rodríguez, Nancy Lopez, and Lee Trevino; swimmer Dara Torres, softball player Lisa Fernandez, and Paul Rodriguez Jr. X Games professional skateboarder and son of stand-up comedian and actor Paul Rodriguez. All Hispanic or Latino Americans who have distinguished themselves in their sports.

In sports entertainment we find in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) professional wrestlers Rey Mysterio former World Heavyweight Champion , Eddie Guerrero former WWE Champion and Melina former WWE Women's Champion as well as former General Manager Vickie Guerrero of the RAW and SmackDown brands.

Socioeconomic circumstances


The high school graduation rate is highest among Cuban Americans (68.7 percent) and lowest among Mexican Americans (48.7 percent). The Puerto Rican rate is 63.2 percent, Central and South American Americans' is 60.4 percent, and the Dominican American is 51.7 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 possessing a 4-year college degree. On the other hand, only 6.2 percent of Mexican Americans, 9.9 of Puerto Ricans and 10.9 of Dominican Americans had achieved a 4-year degree. In comparison non-Hispanic Asian Americans (43.3 percent) and non-Hispanic White Americans (26.1 percent) had higher rates than any Hispanic American group. Non-Hispanic Black Americans (14.4 percent) had a lower graduation rate than Cuban Americans and Central and South Americans, but had a higher rate than Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominican Americans.

Cuban Americans have the highest attainment of graduate degrees among all Hispanic or Latino groups, with 6.7 percent. The Central and South American 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 lower percentage of graduate-level degrees than most Hispanic or Latino groups. Of Hispanics and Latinos 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.

Workforce and average income

Personal and household income (US Census 2005)

In 2002, the average individual income among Hispanic and Latino Americans was highest for Cuban Americans ($38,733), and lowest for Dominican Americans ($28,467) and Mexican Americans ($27,877). For Puerto Ricans it was $33,927, and $30,444 for Central and South Americans. In comparison, the income of the average Hispanic American is lower than the national average.

Among Hispanics, Cuban Americans (28.5 percent) had the highest percentage in professional–managerial occupations. The percentage for Puerto Ricans was 20.7, Central and South Americans' was 16.8 percent, and Mexican Americans' was 13.2 percent. All these are lower than the average for non-Hispanics (36.2 percent).


According to the ACS, among Hispanic groups the poverty rate is highest among Dominican Americans (28.1 percent), Honduran Americans and Puerto Ricans (23.7 percent both), and Mexican Americans (23.6 percent). It is lowest among South Americans, such as Colombian Americans (10.6 percent) and Peruvian Americans (13.6 percent), and relatively low poverty rates are also found among Salvadoran Americans (15.0 percent) and Cuban Americans (15.2 percent). In comparison, the average poverty rates for non-Hispanic White Americans (8.8 percent) and Asian Americans (7.1 percent) were lower than those of any Hispanic group. African Americans (21.3 percent) have a higher poverty rate than most Hispanic or Latino groups.


Hispanophobia has existed in various degrees throughout U.S. history, based largely on ethnicity, race, culture, Anti-Catholicism, and use of the Spanish language. 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 Investigationmarker 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 almost doubled.

Political trends

Hispanics and Latinos differ on their political views depending on their location and background, but the majority (57%) either identify themselves as or support the Democrats, and 23% identify themselves as Republicans. This 34 point gap as of December, 2007 was an increase from the gap of 21 points 16 months earlier. Cuban Americans and Colombian Americans tend to favor conservative political ideologies and support the Republicans, while Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominican Americans tend to favor liberal views and support the Democrats. However, because the latter groups are far more numerous – as, again, Mexican Americans alone are 64% of Hispanics and Latinos – the Democratic Party is considered to be in a far stronger position with the group overall.

The Presidency of George W. Bush had a significant impact on the political leanings of Hispanics and Latinos. As a former Governor of Texas, Bush 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 Republicans among the group.

In the 1996 presidential election, 72% of Hispanics and Latinos backed President Bill Clinton, but in 2000 the Democratic total fell to 62%, and went down again in 2004, with Democrat John Kerry winning Hispanics 58–40 against 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 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 in favor of 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, Hispanics and Latinos went as strongly Democratic as they have since the Clinton years. Exit polls showed the group 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.

Although during 2008 the economy and employment were top concerns for Hispanics and Latinos, immigration was "never far from their minds": almost 90% of Latinos rated immigration as "somewhat important" or "very important" in a poll taken after the election. There is "abundant evidence" that the heated Republican opposition to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 has done significant damage to the party's appeal to Hispanics and Latinos in the years to come, especially in the swing states such as Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico. In a Gallup poll of 4,604 registered Hispanic voters taken in the final days of June 2008, only 18% of participants identified themselves as Republicans.

2008 election

In the 2008 Presidential election's Democratic primary Hispanics and Latinos participated in larger numbers than before, with Hillary Clinton receiving most of the group's support. Pundits discussed whether a large percentage of Hispanics and Latinos would vote for an African American candidate, in this case Barack Obama, Clinton's opponent. Hispanics/Latinos voted 2 to 1 for Mrs. Clinton, even among the younger demographic, which in the case of other groups was an Obama stronghold. Among Hispanics, 28% said race was involved in their decision, as opposed to 13% for (non-Hispanic) whites.

Obama defeated Clinton. In the matchup between Obama and Republican candidate John McCain for the presidency, Hispanics and Latinos supported Obama with 59% to McCain's 29% in the Gallup tracking poll as of June 30, 2008. This surprised some analysts, since a higher than expected percentage of Latinos and Hispanics favored Obama over McCain, who had been a leader of the comprehensive immigration reform effort. However, McCain had retracted during the Republican primary, stating that he would not support the bill if it came up again. Some analysts believed that this move hurt his chances among Hispanics and Latinos. Obama took advantage of the situation by running ads aimed at the ethnic group, in Spanish, in which he mentioned McCain's about-face.

In the general election, 67% of Hispanics and Latinos voted for Obama and 31% voted for McCain, with a relatively stronger turnout than in previous elections in states such as Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Virginiamarker helping Obama carry those formerly Republican states. Obama won 70% of non-Cuban Hispanics and 35% of the traditionally Republican Cuban Americans that have a strong presence in Florida, while the changing state demographics towards a more non-Cuban Hispanic community also contributed to his carrying Florida's Latinos with 57% of the vote.

Some political organizations associated with Hispanic and Latino Americans are LULAC, the NCLR, the United Farm Workers, the Cuban American National Foundation, and the National Institute for Latino Policy.


The geographic, political, social, economic, and racial other diversity of Hispanic and Latino Americans extends to culture, as well. Yet several features tend to unite Hispanics and Latinos from these diverse backgrounds.


With 40% of Hispanic and Latino Americans being immigrants, and with many of the 60% who are U.S.-born being the children or grandchildren of immigrants, bilingualism is the norm in the community at large: at home, at least 69% of all Hispanic and Latino Americans over age five are bilingual in English and Spanish, whereas up to 22% are monolingual English-speakers, and 9% are monolingual Spanish-speakers; another 0.4% speak a language other than English and Spanish at home. In all, a full 90% of all Hispanic and Latino Americans speak English, and at least 78% of all Hispanic and Latino Americans speak Spanish. Spanish is the oldest European language in the United States, spoken uninterruptedly for four and a half centuries, since the foundation of St. Augustine.

The usual pattern is monolingual Spanish use among new migrants or older foreign-born Hispanics, complete bilingualism among long-settled immigrants and the children of immigrants, and the sole use of English, or both English and either Spanglish or colloquial Spanish 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 some online exclusively.

Among the noteworthy Spanish-language media outlets are:
  • Univision, the largest Spanish-language television network in the United States, with affiliates in nearly every major U.S. market, and numerous affiliates internationally;
  • Telemundo, the second-largest Spanish-language television network in the United States, with affiliates in nearly every major U.S. market, and numerous affiliates internationally;
  • La Opinión, a Spanish-language daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California and distributed throughout the six counties of Southern California. It is the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States;
  • El Nuevo Herald and Diario Las Americas, both Spanish-language daily newspapers serving the greater Miami, Floridamarker market;
  • Hispanic Business, an English-language business magazine about Hispanics;
  • Vida Latina, a Spanish-language entertainment magazine distributed throughout the Southern United States;
  • ConSentido TV, a TV, radio, and newspaper network in North Texas.

See also


Further reading

  • Miguel A. De La Torre, "Encyclopedia on Hispanic American Religious Culture," Volume 1 & 2, ABC-CLIO Publishers, 2009.

External links

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