Hispanic culture and traditions

Hispanics in the United States: Factfile

One in seven inhabitants of the United States is of Hispanic origin, meaning they are of Mexican, Central American or South American origin.

Hispanics are the largest minority group in the U.S., making up almost 16% of the whole population, with some 50 million people.

70% of the Hispanic population lives in five states: California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois.

The U.S. is the fifth largest Hispanic country in the world.

Twenty countries speak Spanish as their first language, and Spanish is the fourth most frequently spoken language in the world.

Mexican is the largest subdivision of Hispanics in the US, with about 63%, followed by Central and South American (15%), Puerto Rican (11%), Cuban (4%), and other Hispanics (7%).

Hispanic or Latino?

The term Hispanic was created by the Nixon administration in the 1970s to refer to a large and diverse population with a connection to the Spanish language or culture from a Spanish-speaking country.

The term Latino is also used, and is increasingly gaining acceptance among Hispanics. The term reflects the origin of the population in Latin America.

A person with Latino heritage is a descendant of a family from Mexico, Central America or South America. Hispanic people come from the countries that Spain colonized including those far away from America like the Philippines. The name comes from the term “Hispania” which was the old name for Spain.


Hispanic and Latino Americans who reside in the eastern United States tend to prefer the term Hispanic, whereas those in the west usually prefer to be called Latino.

Many US companies cater for the growing Hispanic population, offering products with labels and instructions in Spanish, special customer service phone lines for Spanish speakers, and a whole host of products imported from Latin American countries. There are a multitude of Spanish language TV channels, radio broadcasters, and magazines.


Popular Hispanic culture

Hispanics show their culture through a variety of traditions, fiestas, celebrations, music, dance, popular music, and TV shows.

Fiestas, music and dance

Talking and laughing animatedly, playing music at high volume and impromptu dancing are features of many Hispanic cultures. Music and dance are essential at special celebrations and just to enjoy life. Hispanic parties, or fiestas, usually go on into the small hours, and all the family takes part together, from the youngest to the oldest.

Many Hispanics enjoy dancing to the music from their country of origin, be it salsa, merengue, cumbia, or reggaeton. Hispanic culture has many carnivals and festivities where people can let their hair down and dance, including street carnivals and festivals, often related to religious celebrations.

hispanic traditions and customs

Popular music

Many Hispanic American pop musicians have achieved international fame, such as Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Carlos Santana, Christina Aguilera, Shakira, Juanes, and Enrique Iglesias. Many sing in both Spanish and English.


The Hispanic world is well-known for its telenovelas or series, usually romantic stories with an element of tragedy and melodrama. The most famous is perhaps the Colombian telenovela Betty la Fea, which has been produced in English in the US.

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