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Hispanic (United States use the term as a broad catchall to refer to persons with a historical and cultural relationship either with Spain, or with Spain and Portugal, regardless of race.[6][7] The U.S. Census Bureau defines the ethnonym Hispanic or Latino to refer to "a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American (except for Brazil), or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race"[8] and states that Hispanics or Latinos can be of any race, any ancestry, any ethnicity.[9] Generically, this limits the definition of Hispanic or Latino to people from the Caribbean, Central and South America, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race, distinctly excluding all persons of Portuguese origin.

Because of the technical distinctions involved in defining "race" vs. "ethnicity," there is confusion among the general population about the designation of Hispanic identity. Currently, the United States Census Bureau defines five race categories:[10]

  • White or Caucasian
  • Black or African American
  • Native American or Alaska Native
  • Asian
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

According to census reports, of the above races the largest number of Hispanic or Latinos are of the White race, the second largest number come from the Native American/American Indian race who were the indigenous people of the Americas. The inhabitants of Easter Island are Pacific Islanders and since the island belongs to Chile they are theoretically Hispanic or Latinos. Because Hispanic roots are considered aligned with a European ancestry (Spain), Hispanic/Latino ancestry is defined solely as an ethnic designation (similar to being Norse or Germanic). Therefore, a person of Hispanic descent is typically defined using both race and ethnicity as an identifier—i.e., Black-Hispanic, White-Hispanic, Asian-Hispanic, Amerindian-Hispanic or "other race" Hispanic.

The term "Hispanic" broadly refers to the culture, peoples, or nations with a historical link to Spain. The term commonly applies to countries once colonized by Spain, particularly the countries of Latin America that were colonized by Spain. It could be argued that the term should apply to all Spanish-speaking cultures or countries, as the historical roots of the word specifically pertain to the Iberian region. It is also difficult to label a culture with one term, such as Hispanic, as the customs, traditions, beliefs and art forms (music, literature, dress, architecture, cuisine or others) vary widely depending on country and even within the regions of said country. The Spanish language and culture is the main culture.[6][7]

Officially, however, the U.S. Government has defined Hispanic or Latino persons as being "persons who trace their origin or descent to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central and South America (except for Brazil), and other Spanish cultures". This includes Spain which is the origin of Spanish culture.[11] The United States Census uses the ethnonym Hispanic or Latino to refer to "a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race."[8] These definitions fully exclude persons of Portuguese culture or origin based in Europe (as well as in Africa or Asia), but leave room for misinterpretation regarding persons of Brazilian origin (as Brazil is indeed located in South America, even if it does not speak Spanish or derive its culture from Spain, but from Portugal). The same happens to persons who can trace their origins to Suriname and Guyana (also in South America, but deriving their culture from The Netherlands and the United Kingdom). None of these countries regard themselves as Hispanic. Under the aforementioned definitions by the U.S. Government, it is clear that persons of Portuguese culture (Brazil) should not be classified as Hispanic.


  • Terminology 1
    • Definitions in ancient Rome 1.1
    • Definitions in Portugal and Spain 1.2
    • Definitions in the United States 1.3
      • Hispanicization 1.3.1
  • Spanish-speaking countries and regions 2
    • Language and ethnicities in Spanish-speaking areas around the world 2.1
    • Areas with Hispanic cultural influence 2.2
  • Music 3
  • Literature 4
  • Religion 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The term Hispanic derives from Hispanicus (which derived from Hispania), Hispania may in turn derive from Latin Hispanicus, or from Greek Ισπανία Hispania and Ισπανός Hispanos, probably from Celtiberian[12] or from Basque Ezpanna.[13] In English the word is attested from the 16th century (and in late 19th century in American English).[14]

The words Spain, Spanish, and Spaniard are of the same etymology as Hispanus, ultimately.[12]

Stele of a family of celts, hispanus from Gallaecia : Apana · Ambo/lli · f(ilia) · Celtica /Supertam(arica) · / [j] Miobri · /an(norum) · XXV · h(ic) · s(ita) · e(st) · /Apanus · fr(ater) · f(aciendum)· c(uravit)[15]

Hispanus was the Latin name given to a person from Hispania during Roman rule. In English, the term Hispano-Roman is sometimes used.[16] The Hispano-Romans were composed of people from many different tribes.[17] Some famous Hispani (plural of Hispanus) were Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, Martial, Prudentius, Theodosius I, and Magnus Maximus and Maximus of Hispania.

Here follows a comparison of several terms related to Hispanic:

  • Hispania was the name of the Iberian Peninsula/Iberia from the 3rd century BC to the 8th AD, both as a Roman Empire province and immediately thereafter as a Visigothic kingdom, 5th–8th century.
  • Hispano-roman is used to refer to the culture and people of Hispania.[18][19][20]
  • Hispanic is used to refer to modern Spain, to the Spanish language, and to the Spanish-speaking nations of the world and particularly the Americas.[20][21]
  • Spanish is used to refer to the people, nationality, culture, language and other things of Spain.
  • Spaniard is used to refer to the people of Spain.

Hispania was the Roman name for the whole territory of the Iberian Peninsula. Initially, Hispania was divided into two provinces: Hispania Citerior and Hispania Ulterior. In 27 b.C, Hispania Ulterior was divided into two new provinces, Hispania Baetica and Hispania Lusitania, while Hispania Citerior was renamed Hispania Tarraconensis. This division of Hispania explains the usage of the singular and plural forms (Spain, and The Spains) used to refer to the peninsula and its kingdoms in the Middle Ages.[22]

Prior to the marriage of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1469, the four Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula, namely the Kingdom of Portugal, the Crown of Aragon, the Crown of Castile, and the Kingdom of Navarre, were collectively referred to as The Spains. This revival of the old Roman name in the Middle Ages appears to have originated in Provençal, and was first documented at the end of the 11th century. In the Council of Constance, the four kingdoms shared one vote.

The word "Lusitanian", relates to Lusitania or Portugal, also in reference to the Lusitanians, one of the first Indo-European tribes to settle in Europe. From this tribe's name had derived the name of the Roman province of Lusitania, and Lusitania remains Portugal's name in Latin.

The terms "Spain" and " the Spains" were not interchangeable.[23] Spain was a geographic territory home to several kingdoms (Christian and Muslim), with separate governments, laws, languages, religions, and costumes and was also the historical remnant of the Hispano-Gothic unity.[24] Spain was not a political entity until much later, and when referring to the Middle Ages one should not be confounded with the nation-state of today.[25] The term "The Spains" referred specifically to a collective of juridico-political units, that is, it first referred only to the Christian kingdoms, then to the different kingdoms ruled by the same king.

With the

  • What is a Hispanic? Racist vs. Legal Definition. Romero Anton Montalban-Anderssen
  • Hispanic and Latino at DMOZ

External links

  • (1996)Ethnic Ironies: Latino Politics in the 1992 ElectionsDe la Garza, Rodolfo O., and Louis Desipio.
  • What is a Hispanic? Legal Definition vs. Racist Definition.Montalban-Anderssen. (1996)
  • What is a Hispanic? Legal Definition vs. Racist Definition. Romero Anton Montalban-Anderssen. Large file with footnotes (1996)
  • Price, M., Cooper, C., Competing Visions, Shifting Boundaries: The Construction of Latin America as a World Region


  1. ^ Dicionário Priberam
  2. ^ DLC2 (hispàno). DLC2 (hispànica).
  3. ^ Real Academia de la Historia pg 266
  4. ^ Antiquite tardive pg 504
  5. ^ Al-Andalus, Sepharad and Medieval Iberia: Cultural Contact and Diffusion pg 231
  6. ^ a b c U.S. Department of Transportation "49 CFR Part 26". Retrieved 2012-10-22. 'Hispanic Americans,' which includes persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American (except for Brazil), or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race; 
  7. ^ a b c "US Small Business Administration 8(a) Program Standard Operating Procedure". Retrieved 2012-10-22. SBA has defined 'Hispanic American' as an individual whose ancestry and culture are rooted in South America, Central America, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, or Spain. 
  8. ^ a b c
  9. ^ Passel, J. & Taylor, P. 'Who's Hispanic?' Pew Research Hispanic Center 2009
  10. ^ United States Census Bureau,
  11. ^ Office of Management and Budget. "Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. Federal Register Notice October 30, 1997". Retrieved 2008-01-11. 
  12. ^ a b Harper, Douglas. "Online Etymology Dictionary; Hispanic". Retrieved 2009-02-10.  Also: etymology of "Spain", on the same site.
  13. ^ Anthon, Charles. A System of Ancient and Mediæval Geography for the Use of Schools and Colleges pg.14
  14. ^ The color of words pg 107
  15. ^ Hispania epigraphica.AEH / Universidad Complutense
  16. ^ Pohl, Walter; Helmut Reimitz (1998). Strategies of Distinction: The Construction of Ethnic Communities, 300-800. BRILL. p. 117. ISBN 90-04-10846-7, ISBN 978-90-04-10846-2. 
  17. ^ Povos Pré-Romanos da Península Ibérica A map showing the various Pre-Roman peoples of Iberia.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b Merriam Webster Online
  21. ^ Ask Oxford
  22. ^ A history of medieval Spain pg 28
  23. ^ Saint and Nation pg 10
  24. ^ Spain's centuries of crisis: 1300-1474 pg2
  25. ^ Las Raices Medievales de España
  26. ^ Historia general de España y América: La España de las reformas pg 87
  27. ^ Homenaje a la Constitución Española: XXV aniversari pg 123
  28. ^ Felipe IV: el hombre y el reinado pg 137
  29. ^ Constitución política de la Monarquía Española Promulgada en Cádiz a 19 de Marzo de 1812
  30. ^ Estado y territorio en España, 1820-1930: la formación del paisaje nacional pg 25-26
  31. ^ The gentleman's magazine, and historical chronicle, Volume 90, Part 1 pg326
  32. ^ Livius, Titus. The History of Rome, Vol. III 25.33
  33. ^ GARCÍA RIAZA, E., "Lengua y poder. Notas sobre los orígenes de la latinización de las élites celtibéricas (182-133 aC)" , Palaeohispanica 5-2005, 637-655
  34. ^ España y los españoles
  35. ^ Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa
  36. ^ DICCIONARIO DE LA LENGUA ESPAÑOLA - Vigésima segunda edición
  37. ^ OMB, Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity (1997)
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ 70 Fed. Reg. 71296
  41. ^ Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs FAQ-10 and FAQ-13
  42. ^ Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs FAQ-26
  43. ^ Aruthur R. Crese, Audrey Dianne Schmidley and Roberto R. Ramirez, Identification of Hispanic Ethnicity in Census 2000: Analysis of Data Quality for the Question on Hispanic Origin, Population Division Working Paper No. 75, U.S. Census Bureau, July 27, 2004 [Revised July 9, 2008].
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ Hispanic Spaces, Latino Places: Community and Cultural Diversity in Contemporary America, 2004. Edited by Dan Arreola, found in Chapter 14 "Hispanization of Hereford, Texas"
  47. ^ US Bureau of the Census, 2004 (see page 10).
  48. ^ Hispanic Community Types and Assimilation in Mex-America 1998. Haverluk, Terrence W. The Professional Geographer, 50(4) pages 465-480.
  49. ^ Estimating the impact of demic diffusion
  50. ^ World Haplogroups Maps
  51. ^ a b c CIA World Factbook Language Notes
  52. ^ a b CIA World Factbook Ethnicity Notes
  53. ^ "Spain". 2009-01-01. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  54. ^ CIA World Factbook Spain
  55. ^ (page 24)
  56. ^ a b [1]
  57. ^ CIA Mexico
  58. ^ CIA World Factbook Mexico
  59. ^ Census Bureau, 2010
  60. ^ CIA World Factbook The United States
  61. ^ "Belize 2000 Housing and Population Census". Belize Central Statistical Office. 2000. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  62. ^ CIA World Factbook Costa Rica
  63. ^ CIA World Factbook El Salvador
  64. ^ CIA World Factbook Guatemala
  65. ^ CIA World Factbook Honduras
  66. ^ CIA World Factbook Nicaragua
  67. ^ CIA World Factbook Panama
  68. ^ CIA World Factbook Argentina
  69. ^ CIA World Factbook Bolivia
  70. ^ Composición Étnica de las Tres Áreas Culturales del Continente Americano al Comienzo del Siglo XXI. 
  71. ^ Bushnell, David & Rex A. Hudson (2010) "The Society and Its Environment"; Colombia: a country study: 87. Washingtion D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress.
  72. ^ "multiculturalism in Colombia." (in Spanish). Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  73. ^ CIA World Factbook Ecuador
  74. ^ CIA World Factbook Paraguay
  75. ^ Peru Peru
  76. ^ [The Socioeconomic Advantages of Mestizos in Urban Peru. pp. 4–5.] Peru
  77. ^ CIA World Factbook Uruguay
  78. ^ [2] Venezuela
  79. ^ CIA World Factbook Cuba
  80. ^ CIA World Factbook Dominican Republic
  81. ^ CIA World Factbook Puerto Rico
  82. ^ CIA World Factbook Equatorial Guinea
  83. ^ CIA World Factbook Chile (includes Easter Island)
  84. ^ a b CIA World Factbook Copyright notice
  85. ^ a b c CIA World Factbook Philippines
  86. ^ Ethnologue. There are 2,532 immigrants from Spain according to INE(1/1/2009)
  87. ^ 1,816,773 Spanish + 1,200,000 Spanish creole: Antonio Quilis "La lengua española en Filipinas", 1996 pag.234, (page 23), (page 249),, The figure 2,900,000 Spanish-speakers, we can find in "Pluricentric languages: differing norms in different nations" (page 45 by R.W.Thompson), or in More than 2 million Spanish-speakers and around 3 million with Chavacano speakers according to "Instituto Cervantes de Manila" ([3])
  88. ^ a b CIA World Factbook Guam
  89. ^ a b CIA - The World Factbook -- Micronesia, Federated States of
  90. ^ a b CIA World Factbook Northern Mariana Islands
  91. ^ a b CIA World Factbook Palau
  92. ^ The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute; Annual Assessment, 2007
  93. ^ United Jewish Communities; Global Jewish Populations
  94. ^ Nicholas Wade, "Gene Test Shows Spain's Jewish and Muslim Mix", The New York Times, 12/5/2008, p.A12,
  95. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary Ladino
  96. ^ Espinosa, Gastón; Elizondo, Virgilio; Miranda, Jesse (January 2003). "Hispanic Churches in American Public Life: Summary of Findings" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2006-11-01. Retrieved 2006-12-27. 


See also

In the United States, some 65% of Hispanics and Latinos report themselves Catholic and 21% Protestant, with 13% having no affiliation.[96] A minority among the Roman Catholics, about one in five, are charismatics. Among the Protestant, 85% are "Born-again Christians" and belong to Evangelical or Pentecostal churches. Among the smallest groups, less than 4%, are Jewish.

While a tiny minority, there are some Muslims in Latin America, in the US, and in the Philippines, living predominantly in Mindanao, the home of Islam in the Philippines.

Among the Spanish-speaking Catholics, most communities celebrate their homeland's patron saint, dedicating a day for this purpose with festivals and religious services. Some Spanish-speakers syncretize Roman Catholicism and African or Native American rituals and beliefs. Such is the case of Santería, popular with Afro-Cubans, which combines old African beliefs in the form of Roman Catholic saints and rituals. Other syncretistic beliefs include Spiritism and Curanderismo.

There are also Spanish-speaking Jews, most of whom are the descendants of Ashkenazi Jews who migrated from Europe (German Jews, Russian Jews, Polish Jews, etc.) to Hispanic America, particularly Argentina, Uruguay, Peru and Cuba (Argentina is host to the third largest Jewish population in the Western Hemisphere, after the United States and Canada)[92][93] in the 19th century and following World War II. Many Spanish-speaking Jews also originate from the small communities of reconverted descendants of anusim — those whose Spanish and Portuguese Sephardi Jewish ancestors long ago hid their Jewish ancestry and beliefs in fear of persecution by the Spanish Inquisition and Portuguese Inquisition in the Iberian Peninsula and Ibero-America. The Spanish Inquisition led to a large number of forced conversions of Spanish Jews. Genetic studies on the (male) Y-chromosome conducted by the University of Leeds in 2008 appear to support the idea that the number of forced conversions have been previously underestimated significantly. They found that twenty percent of Spanish males have Y-chromosomes associated with Sephardic Jewish ancestry.[94] This may imply that there were more forced conversions than was previously thought. There are also thought to be many Catholic-professing descendants of marranos and Spanish-speaking crypto-Jews in the Southwestern United States and scattered through Hispanic America. Additionally, there are Sephardic Jews who are descendants of those Jews who fled Spain to Turkey, Syria, and North Africa, some of whom have now migrated to Hispanic America, holding on to some Spanish/Sephardic customs, such as the Ladino language, which mixes Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic and others, though written with Hebrew and Latin characters.[95] Though, it should be noted, that Ladinos were also African slaves captive in Spain held prior to the colonial period in the Americas. (See also History of the Jews in Hispanic America and List of Hispanic American Jews.)

With regard to religious affiliation among Spanish-speakers or Portuguese-speakers, Christianity — specifically Roman Catholicism — is usually the first religious tradition that comes to mind . The Spaniards and the Portuguese took the Roman Catholic faith to Ibero-America and the Philippines, and Roman Catholicism remains the predominant religion amongst most Hispanics. A small but growing number of Hispanics belong to a Protestant denomination.


Spanish-language literature and folklore is very rich and is influenced by a variety of countries. There are thousands of writers from many places, and dating from the Middle Ages to the present. Some of the most recognized writers are Pedro Henríquez Ureña (Dominican Republic), Ernesto Sabato (Argentina), Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel (Equatorial Guinea), Ciro Alegría (Peru), Joaquin Garcia Monge (Costa Rica), and José Rizal (Philippines).

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra


On the other side of the ocean, Hispanic America is also home to a wide variety of music, even though "Latin" music is often erroneously thought of, as a single genre. Hispanic Caribbean music tends to favor complex polyrhythms of African origin. Mexican music shows combined influences of mostly Spanish and Native American origin, while traditional Northern Mexican music — norteño and banda — is more influenced by country-and-western music and the polka, brought by Central European settlers to Mexico. The music of Hispanic Americans — such as tejano music — has influences in rock, jazz, R&B, pop, and country music as well as traditional Mexican music such as Mariachi. Meanwhile, native Andean sounds and melodies are the backbone of Peruvian and Bolivian music, but also play a significant role in the popular music of most South American countries and are heavily incorporated into the folk music of Ecuador and Chile and the tunes of Colombia, and again in Chile where they play a fundamental role in the form of the greatly followed nueva canción. In U.S. communities of immigrants from these countries it is common to hear these styles. Latin pop, Rock en Español, Latin hip-hop, Salsa, Merengue, colombian cumbia and Reggaeton styles tend to appeal to the broader Hispanic population, and varieties of Cuban music are popular with many Hispanics of all backgrounds.

Folk and popular dance and music also varies greatly among Hispanics. For instance, the music from Spain is a lot different from the Hispanic American, although there is a high grade of exchange between both continents. In addition, due to the high national development of the diverse nationalities and regions of Spain, there is a lot of music in the different languages of the Peninsula (Catalan, Galician and Basque, mainly). See, for instance, Music of Catalonia or Rock català, Music of Galicia, Cantabria and Asturias, and Basque music. Flamenco is also a very popular music style in Spain, especially in Andalusia. Spanish ballads "romances" can be traced in Mexico as "corridos" or in Argentina as "milongas", same structure but different scenarios.


Continent/Region Country/Territory Languages Spoken [51] Ethnic Groups [52] References
Africa Western Sahara Arabic is the official language of Western Sahara, while Spanish is still widely spoken. The major ethnic group of the Western Sahara are the Sahrawis, a nomadic or Bedouin group speaking Arabic.
Asia Philippines Chavacano, a Spanish-based creole language is spoken in the Philippines by 600,000 people.[85] Filipino Spanish is natively spoken by 5,000 people but second- and third-language speakers range from 500,000 to 2,500,000.[86][87] Hispanic influences have impacted several native languages, such as Tagalog, Cebuano and Ilocano. Many aspects of Filipino culture including cuisine, traditional dances, music, festivals, religion, architecture, traditional costumes and crafts exhibit Hispanic origin and influences.[85] Filipino people [85]
Micronesia Guam Former Spanish territories in Asia-Pacific no longer recognize Spanish as an official language. The predominant languages used in Guam are English, Chamorro and Filipino. Also, in Guam -a U.S. territory- and the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth in political union with the U.S., a Malayo-Polynesian language called Chamorro is spoken, with numerous loanwords with Spanish etymological origins. However it is not a Spanish creole language.[88] Asians, Chamorro, and others [88]
FSM Micronesia Micronesia's official language is English, although native languages, such as Chuukese, Kosraean, Pohnpeian, Yapese, Ulithian, Woleaian, Nukuoro and Kapingamarangi are also prominent.[89] Asians, Micronesians, and others [89]
Northern Mariana Islands In the Northern Mariana Islands, a commonwealth in political union with the U.S., a Malayo-Polynesian language called Chamorro is spoken, with numerous loanwords with Spanish etymological origins. However it is not a Spanish creole language. The top four languages used in the Northern Mariana Islands are Filipino, Chinese, Chamorro and English.[90] Asians, Chamorro, and others [90]
Palau In Palau, Spanish is no longer used; instead, the people use their native languages, such as Palauan, Angaur, Sonsorolese and Tobian.[91] Asians, Palauan, and others [91]
The CIA World Factbook is in the public domain. Accordingly, it may be copied freely without permission of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).[84]

Areas with Hispanic cultural influence

Continent/Region Country/Territory Languages Spoken [51] Ethnic Groups [52] Picture References
Europe Spain Spanish (official) 74%, Catalan 17%, Galician 7%, Basque 2%, are official regionally. (Spanish is spoken by 100% of the population, over 100% indicates bilingual population).[51] 88.0% Spanish, 12.0% others (Romanian, British, Moroccan, Hispanic American, German) (2009)
(See: Spanish people)
Andorra Catalan (official) 38.1%, Spanish 39.7%, Portuguese 14.5%, French 8.5% [55]
North America Mexico Spanish 92.7%, Spanish and other language 5.7%, native/indigenous only 0.8%, unspecified 0.8%; (Native/ Indigenous languages include Mayan languages, Mixtec, Nahuatl, Purépecha, Zapotec, and other) (2005) Mestizo (European, mainly Spanish and Native Mixed) 65%,[56] Amerindian (or predominantly Amerindian) 17.5%, White (full Spanish or other European) 16.5%,[57] other (including Black minority) 1%[56]
(See: Mexican people)
United States English 79.4%, Spanish 12.8%, other Indo-European 3.7%, Asian and Pacific Islander languages 3.0%, other 0.9% (2010 census) (Hawaiian is an official language in the state of Hawaii).

(Note: The U.S. is a predominantly English-speaking country. As is true of many immigrant families, the immigrants often speak Spanish and some English, while their children are fluent English speakers because they were born and educated in the U.S. Some retain their Spanish language as is true of other immigrant families. The recent influx of large numbers of immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries into the U.S. has meant that the number of Spanish-speaking U.S. residents has increased, but the children speaking English as is true of the historic U.S. immigrant experience, continues. Migration from Hispanic countries has increased the Spanish-speaking population in the United States. Of those who speak Spanish in the United States, three quarters speak English well or very well.

White 79.96%, Black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska Native 0.97%, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific islanders 0.18%, two or more races 1.61% (July 2007 estimate)

(Note: a separate listing for Hispanics is not included because the U.S. Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean a person of Hispanic American descent (including persons of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin) and of Spanish descent living in the U.S. who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.); about 15-16% of the total U.S. population is Hispanic, not including estimates about alien residents).

Central America Belize Spanish 43%, Belizean Creole 37%, Mayan dialects 7.8%, English 5.6% (official), German 3.2%, Garifuna 2%, other 1.5% Mestizo 34%, Kriol 25%, Spanish 15%, Maya peoples 10.6%, Garifuna 6.1%, other 11% (2000 census)
(See:Belizean people)
Costa Rica Spanish (official) (White including Mestizo) 94%, Black 3%, Amerindian 1%, Chinese 1% Other 1% [62]
El Salvador Spanish (official) Mestizo 86%, White 12%, Amerindian 1% [63]
Guatemala Spanish 59.4%, Amerindian languages 40.5% (23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including K'iche, Kakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca). Mestizo (in local Spanish called Ladino) and White 59.4%, K'iche 9.1%, Kaqchikel 8.4%, Mam 7.9%, Q'eqchi 6.3%, other Maya peoples 8.6%, indigenous non-Mayan 0.2%, other 0.1% (2001 census) [64]
Honduras Spanish, various Amerindian languages Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European) 90%, Amerindian 7%, Black 2%, White 1% [65]
Nicaragua Spanish 97.5% (official), Miskito 1.7%, others 0.8% (1995 census) (English and indigenous languages on Atlantic coast). Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European) 69%, White 17%, Black 9%, Amerindian 5% [66]
Panama Spanish (official), English 14% (bilingual: requires verification) Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European) 70%, Black 14%, White 10%, Amerindian 6% [67]
South America Argentina Spanish (official), other European and Amerindian languages European Argentine 86% (mostly from Spanish and Italian ancestries), Mestizo, Amerindian and other non-European or non-White groups (including Arab, East Asian, and Black minorities) 14%
(See: Argentinian people)
Bolivia Spanish 60.7% (official), Quechua 21.2% (official), Aymara 14.6% (official), foreign languages 2.4%, other 1.2% (2001 census) Quechua 30%, Mestizo (mixed White and Amerindian ancestry) 30%, Aymara 25%, White 15%, Black minority. [69]
Chile Spanish (official), Mapudungun, other European languages White 52,7%, Mestizo 44,1%, Amerindian 3,2%
(See: Chilean people)
Colombia Spanish (official), 68 ethnic languages and dialects. English also official in the San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina Islands. Mestizo 49%, White 37%, Black 10,6 % (includes Mulatto and Zambo), Amerindian 3,4%, Roma 0,01 %, among other ethnic groups.
(See: Colombian people)
Ecuador Spanish (official), Amerindian languages (especially Quechua) Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and White) 65%, Amerindian 25%, White 7%, Black 3% [73]
Paraguay Spanish (official), Guaraní (official) Mestizo (mixed European and Amerindian) 74,5%, White 20%, Mulato 3,5%, Indigenous 1,5% [74]
Peru Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara, and a large number of minor Amazonian languages White and Mestizo 64.4%, Quechua 22.7%, Aymara 2.7%, Amazonian 1.8%, Black, East Asian and others 8.3%. [75] [76]
Uruguay Spanish (official) White (mostly from Spanish and Italian ancestries) 88%, Mestizo 8%, Black 4%, Amerindian (less than 0.5%) [77]
Venezuela Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects Mestizos (mixed Amerindian, White and African) 49,9%, White 42,2%, Black 3,5% and Amerindians 2,7%
(See: Venezuelan people)
Caribbean Islands Cuba Spanish (official) White 65.1% (mostly Spanish), Mulattoes 24.8%, Black 10.1% (2002 census)
(See: Cubans)
Dominican Republic Spanish (official) Mixed 73%, White 16%, Black 11% [80]
Puerto Rico
(Territory of the U.S. with Commonwealth status)
Spanish, English White (mostly of Spanish ancestry) 76.2%, Black 6.9%, Asian 0.3%, Amerindian 0.2%, mixed 4.4%, other 12% (2007) [81]
Africa Equatorial Guinea Spanish 67.6% (official), other 32.4% (includes the other 2 official languages - French and Portuguese, Fang, Bube, Annobonese, Igbo, Krio, Pichinglis, and English) (1994 census)
Note: Equatorial Guinea was the only Spanish colony in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Fang 85.7%, Bubi 6.5%, Mdowe 3.6%, Annobon 1.6%, Bujeba 1.1%, other 1.4% (1994 census) [82]
Polynesia Easter Island
Territory of Chile
Spanish (official), Rapanui Rapanui [83]
The CIA World Factbook is in the public domain. Accordingly, it may be copied freely without permission of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).[84]

Language and ethnicities in Spanish-speaking areas around the world

The Hispanic countries, including Spain, are also inhabited by peoples of non-Spanish ancestry, to widely varying extents.

Culturally, Spaniards are typically European, but they also have small traces of many peoples from the rest of Europe, the Near East and the Mediterranean areas of northern Africa.[49][50]

Miscegenation between peoples in the colonies led to the creation of the new mixed peoples, chiefly half-caste and mulattos, in many countries.

Today, Spanish is among the most commonly spoken first languages of the world. During the period of the Spanish Empire from 1492 and 1898, many people migrated from Spain to the conquered lands. The Spaniards brought with them the Castilian language and culture, and in this process that lasted several centuries, created a global empire with a diverse population.

Spanish-speaking countries
Spanish-Speaking World
  Spanish identified as sole official language
  Spanish identified as co-official language

Spanish-speaking countries and regions

Language retention is a common index to assimilation; according to the 2000 census, about 75 percent of all Hispanics spoke Spanish in the home. Spanish language retention rates vary geographically; parts of Texas and New Mexico have language retention rates over 90 percent, whereas in parts of Colorado and California, retention rates are lower than 30 percent. The degree of retention of Spanish as the native language is based on recent arrival from countries where Spanish is spoken. As is true of other immigrants, those who were born in other countries still speak their native language. Later generations are increasingly less likely to speak the language spoken in the country of their ancestors, as is true of other immigrant groups.

One reason that some people believe the assimilation of Hispanics in the U.S. is not comparable to that of other cultural groups is that Hispanic and Latino Americans have been living in parts of North America for centuries, in many cases well before the English-speaking culture became dominant. For example, California, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico (1598), Arizona, Nevada, Florida and Puerto Rico have been home to Spanish-speaking peoples since the 16th century, long before the U.S. existed. These and other Spanish-speaking territories were part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and later Mexico (with the exception of Florida and Puerto Rico), before these regions joined or were taken over by the United States in 1848. Some cities in the U.S. were founded by Spanish settlers as early as the 16th century, prior to the creation of the Thirteen Colonies. For example, San Miguel de Galdape, Pensacola and St. Augustine, Florida were founded in 1526, 1559 and 1565 respectively. Santa Fe, New Mexico was founded in 1604, and Albuquerque was established in 1660. El Paso was founded in 1659, San Antonio in 1691, Laredo, Texas in 1755, San Diego in 1769, San Francisco in 1776, San Jose, California in 1777, and Los Angeles in 1781. Therefore, in many parts of the U.S., the Hispanic cultural legacy predates English/British influence. For this reason, many generations have largely maintained their cultural traditions and Spanish language well before the United States was created. However, Spanish-speaking persons in many Hispanic areas in the U.S. amounted to only a few thousand people when they became part of the United States; a large majority of current Hispanic residents are descended from Hispanics who entered the United States in the mid-to-late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Hispanicization is the process by which a place or a person absorbs characteristics of Hispanic society and culture.[46][47][48] Modern hispanization of a place, namely in the United States, might be illustrated by Spanish-language media and businesses. Hispanization of a person might be illustrated by speaking Spanish, making and eating Hispanic American food, listening to Spanish language music or participating in Hispanic festivals and holidays - Hispanization of those outside the Hispanic community as opposed to assimilation of Hispanics into theirs.


In a recent study, most Spanish-speakers of Spanish or Hispanic American descent do not prefer the term "Hispanic" or "Latino" when it comes to describing their identity. Instead, they prefer to be identified by their country of origin. When asked if they have a preference for either being identified as "Hispanic" or "Latino," the Pew study finds that "half (51%) say they have no preference for either term."[44] A majority (51%) say they most often identify themselves by their family’s country of origin, while 24% say they prefer a pan-ethnic label such as Hispanic or Latino. Among those 24% who have a preference for a pan-ethnic label, "'Hispanic' is preferred over 'Latino' by more than a two-to-one margin—33% versus 14%." Twenty-one percent prefer to be referred to simply as "Americans."[45]

The 1970 Census was the first time that a "Hispanic" identifier was used and data collected with the question. The definition of "Hispanic" has been modified in each successive census.[43]

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission encourages any individual who believes that he or she is Hispanic to self-identify as Hispanic.[40] The United States Department of Labor - Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs encourages the same self-identification.[41] As a result, any individual who traces his or her origins to part of the Spanish Empire or Portuguese Empire may self-identify as Hispanic, because an employer may not override an individual's self-identification.[42]

The U.S. Department of Transportation defines Hispanic as, "persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American, or other Spanish or Portuguese culture or origin, regardless of race."[6] This definition has been adopted by the Small Business Administration as well as by many federal, state, and municipal agencies for the purposes of awarding government contracts to minority owned businesses.[7] The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Conference include representatives of Spanish and Portuguese, Puerto Rican and Mexican descent. The Hispanic Society of America is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of Spain, Portugal, and Latin America.[39] The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, proclaimed champions of Hispanic success in higher education, is committed to Hispanic educational success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Ibero-America, Spain and Portugal.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget currently defines "Hispanic or Latino" as "a person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American (except for Brazil), or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race".[37] The 2010 Census asked if the person was "Spanish/Hispanic/Latino". The United States Census uses the ethnonym Hispanic or Latino to refer to "a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South (except for Brazil) or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race."[8] The Census Bureau also explains that "[o]rigin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person's ancestors before their arrival in the United States. People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race."[38]

Definitions in the United States

In Spanish, the term "hispano" as in "hispanoamericano", refers to the people of Spanish origin who live in the Americas; it also refers to a relationship to Hispania or to the Spanish language. There are people in Hispanic America that are not of Spanish origin, as the original people of these areas are Amerindians.

The correct modern term to identify Portuguese and Spanish cultures under a single nomenclature is "Iberian", and the one to refer to cultures derived from both countries in the Americas is "Iberian-American". These designations can be mutually recognized by people in Portugal and Brazil, unlike "Hispanic", which is totally void of any self-identification in those countries, and quite on the opposite, serves the purpose of marking a clear distinction in relation to neighboring countries´ culture.

The term signifies the cultural resonance, among other elements and characteristics, of the descendants of the people who inhabited ancient Hispania. It has been used throughout history for many purposes, including drawing a contrast to the Moors and differentiating explorers and settlers.

  • Of or pertaining to Spain.
  • Spanish, as applied to a person.
  • Belonging or relative to old Hispania.
  • Of or pertaining to the nations of Hispanic America.
  • Of or pertaining to the population of Hispanic American origin who live in the United States of America.
  • A person of this origin who lives in the United States of America.

Persons from Portugal or of Portuguese extraction are known as Lusitanians or "Lusófonos" (Lusophone) not Hispanic. In Portugal, Hispanic refers to something related to ancient Hispania, Spain or the Spanish language and culture, not Portugal[35] Portugal and Spain do not have exactly the same definition for the term Hispanic, but they do share the etymology for the word (pt: hispânico, es: hispánico). The Royal Spanish Academy (Spanish: Real Academia Española, RAE), the official royal institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language defines the term "Hispano" (which means "Hispanic" in Spanish) as:[36]

Spanish colonial casta painting, circa 1760

Definitions in Portugal and Spain

The Latin gentile adjectives that belong to Hispania are Hispanus, Hispanicus and Hispanienses. Hispanus is someone who is a native of Hispania with no foreign parents, while children born in Hispania of roman parents were Hispaniensis. Hispaniensis means connected in some way to Hispania as in "Exercitus Hispaniensis" or "mercatores Hispanienses", that means those who are located in Hispania. While Hispanicus means "of" or "belonging to" Hispania or the Hispanus or of their fashion as in "glaudius Hispanicus".[31] The gentile adjectives were not ethnolinguistic but derived primarily on a geographic basis, from the toponym Hispania as the people of Hispania spoke different languages, although Livy said they could all understand each other, not making clear if they spoke dialects of the same language or were polyglots. [32] The first recorded use of an anthroponym derived from the toponym Hispania is attested in one of the five fragments, of Ennius in 236 B.C. who wrote "Hispane, non Romane memoretis loqui me" (remember that I speak like a Spaniard not a Roman) as having been said by a native of Hispania.[33][34]

Definitions in ancient Rome

The expansion of the Spanish Empire between 1492 and 1898 brought thousands of Spanish migrants to the conquered lands, who established settlements, mainly in the Americas but also in other distant parts of the world, like in the Philippines being the lone Spanish territory in Asia, producing a number of multiracial populations. Today the term Hispanic is typically applied to the varied populations of these places, including those with insignificant or no Spanish ancestry.

Although colloquially and literally the expression "King of Spain" or "King of the Spains" was already widespread,[28] it did not refer to a unified nation-state. It was only in the constitution of 1812 that was adopted the name "Españas" (Spains) for the Spanish nation and the use of the title of "king of the Spains".[29] The constitution of 1876 adopts for the first time the name "Spain" for the Spanish nation and from then on the kings would use the title of "king of Spain".[30]


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