September 17, 2013

5 facts about Hispanics for Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, a period chosen because it bookends the independence days of five Central American nations (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica, Sept. 15), Mexico (Sept. 16) and Chile (Sept. 18), as well as Columbus Day/Dia de la Raza (Oct. 14 this year in the United States). In honor of the event, here are five key facts about U.S. Hispanics:

Geography: Although there’s been some dispersion in recent years, the Hispanic population remains highly concentrated. More than half (55%) of the nation’s Hispanics live in just three states — California, Texas and Florida — and 71% live in just 100 of the nation’s 3,143 counties and county-equivalents.

Population size: According to the Census Bureau, there were 51.9 million U.S. Hispanics in 2011 (its latest estimate, for 2012, is just over 53 million). The Hispanic population grew 47.5% between 2000 and 2011, according to a Pew Research analysis, and accounted for more than half (55%) of total population growth over that period.

Countries of origin: The umbrella term “Hispanic” embraces a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. However, nearly two-thirds of U.S. Hispanics trace their family origins to Mexico; Puerto Ricans, the nation’s second-largest Hispanic-origin group, make up 9.5% of the total Hispanic population.

Educational attainment: College enrollment among Hispanic high school graduates has risen over the past decade: According to the Census Bureau, 49% of young Hispanic high-school graduates were enrolled in college in 2012, surpassing the rate for white (47%) and black (45%) high-school grads.

Language usage: A record 35 million (74%) Hispanics ages 5 and older speak Spanish at home. Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the United States. Nearly all U.S. Hispanics say it’s important that future generations speak Spanish.

You may also like… 11 facts for National Hispanic Heritage Month in 2014

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Hispanic/Latino Demographics

  1. Photo of Drew DeSilver

    is a senior writer at Pew Research Center.


  1. Blanca A Valdez4 years ago

    Middle schools take the dessition on what classes are latinos going to get, so they have no choice but follow the structure their teachers did for them. Teachers on 7th grade choose the best classes for withe childrens, leaving the latinos with the ones they do not need, and when they get to high school they do not take advanced classes or AP classes because the process in not the correct for them.

  2. Joyce Williams4 years ago

    I have a few more facts:

    1.Hispanics and Latin/Latino/Latina are NOT mutually interchangeable terms. Any person who speak a Latin based Latin/Latino/Latina; Latin based languages are also known as Romance, or Romanic Languages.

    2. The term Hispanic derives from “Hispania”, the ancient name of the Iberian Peninsula during the Roman Empire. The island where Dominican Republic and Haiti are, it’s called “La Hispaniola”. In the very strict sense of the word, a Hispanic would be someone from that island.

    3. The term “Latinamerica” was coined by the French conquerors to use to identify the countries where a Latin based language was/is spoken. In Europe, several regions among countries where a Latin based language, some people also use the term Latin to refer to themselves (that is especially common in Romania).

    4. There is no such thing as a “Hispanic/Latin” look. They come in all races, sizes, shapes, and colors. So, people who use terms like “white Hispanic” or “black Latino” are not on the wrong for using those terms. However, most people prefer to be called by their country of origin (if they came from abroad), or simply American.

    1. Monica4 years ago

      I think, as humans, we tend to speculate too much and ignore the experts, studies, research and to make a reliable comment based on primary sources. This is the definition that RAE gives:
      (De hispano).

      1. elem. compos. Significa ‘español’. Hispanófilo, hispanoamericano.

      hispano, na. (Del lat. Hispānus).

      1. adj. Perteneciente o relativo a Hispania.

      2. adj. español. Apl. a pers., u. t. c. s.

      3. adj. Perteneciente o relativo a las naciones de Hispanoamérica.

      4. adj. Perteneciente o relativo a la población de origen hispanoamericano que vive en los Estados Unidos de América.

      5. m. y f. Persona de ese origen que vive en los Estados Unidos de América.

  3. Karla Torres4 years ago

    Important correction to: “Central American nations (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica, Sept. 15), Mexico (Sept. 16) and Chile (Sept. 18)”.

    Neither Mexico nor Chile are part of Central America. Mexico is geographically part of North America, while Chile is part of South America.

    Aside from this, nice article.

    1. MaestroDeInglés4 years ago

      Important correction: The verb in the sentence “Neither Mexico nor Chile …” should be “is” not “are” as the subject is singular due to the use of the conjunction “neither.” What you are actually saying is that neither one “is” not “are.” Aside from that, nice comment!

      1. Ben4 years ago

        Bien por el maestro de inglés, pero la corrección de Karla Torres está lamentablemente fuera de lugar. El artículo cita textualmente “five Central American nations…” y después de una coma “,” México y Chile.

      2. Shawn4 years ago

        No need to address your comment in an ironic tone, it doesn’t make it any brighter, it just make you sound annoying… just saying!

    2. Shawn4 years ago

      No, the article correctly sates that the five Central American countries (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica) share an independence day of Sept. 15 while Mexico and Chile have close independence days of Sep 16th and 18th. Look more closely at the parentheses.

    3. Monica4 years ago

      That’s why there is a comma right after the parenthesis closes, to separate the sentence.

  4. Alejandro Iglesias Nivon4 years ago

    How are the Hispano descendants of the pre Mexican American War counted? For the past thirty years or so, younger New Mexican and southern Colorado hispanos have considered themselves as Chicanos but not Mexicans. This group must measure over a million citizens. I know that except for the tiny Canario group, pre war Texanos see themselves as Mexican American. How are adults of mixed Anglo Mexican ancestry counted as Anglo or Mexican?
    Saludos, Alejandro Iglesias Nivon

    1. Brett4 years ago

      That is a very good point. The article needs to state the difference between ethnicity and national origin. I believe they are using statistics specifically of ethnicity in this case. When you do that, you are including not only people who are 1st generation immigrants, but also 2nd, 3rd, 4th generations as well. I think if one was able to write this specifically on national origin, the numbers would be quite different. In that case, you would only be reporting the 1st generation immigrants. I do think that would be a more important article since, and I completely agree with you on this, a vast majority of 2nd, 3rd generations and so on consider themselves to be of Hispanic ethnicity, but having an American national origin. Hence, Mexican-American or Chicano.

    2. Drew DeSilver4 years ago

      Thanks for the questions, Alejandro and Brett. I spoke with Mark Lopez, our Director of Hispanic Research, and here’s what he had to say:

      “At the Pew Research Center (and the U.S. Census Bureau), we identify Hispanics through self-reports. If someone says they are Hispanic, we count them as Hispanic. That includes some who are immigrants and some who are 2nd, 3rd or higher generation. For more on how we do this, see this report from 2009:….

      “That means that there may be some who trace their roots to, for example, Mexico, but do not self-identify as Hispanic. In our tabulations, we would count them as non-Hispanic. That also means that there are some who were born in the U.S. of U.S. born parents who trace their roots to Mexico and who self-identify as Hispanic. We would count them as Hispanic (they say they are, so we count them as Hispanic).

      “For more on Latino identity, see our report “When Labels Don’t Fit”:….”