Hispanics and Latinos constitute 15.4% of the total United States population, or 46.89 million people
Sonia Sotomayor • Franklin Chang-Diaz • Romana Acosta Bañuelos
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Hispanic and Latino Americans are Americans of origins in Hispanic countries of Latin America or in Spain - "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 States 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, Florida by the Spanish, 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, Texas in 1680. Spanish settlement of New Mexico resumed in 1692, and new ones were established in Arizona and California 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 Rico 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.