The term commonly applies to the countries once under colonial possession by the Spanish Empire following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, parts of the Asia-Pacific region and Africa. Principally, what are today the countries of Hispanic America, and sometimes also Philippines, Equatorial Guinea and Western Sahara; in those countries Spanish may or may not be the predominant or official language and their cultures are derived from Spain in different degrees, in addition to local indigenous or other foreign influences. It is more broadly used to refer to the culture, peoples, or nations with a historical link to Spain, especially those countries which were once colonized by Spain, particularly the countries of Latin America which were colonized by Spain.
Hispanic culture is a set of customs, traditions, beliefs and art forms (music, literature, dress, architecture, cuisine or others) which are generally shared by peoples in Hispanic regions, but which can vary considerably from one country or territory to another. The Spanish language is the main cultural element shared by Hispanic peoples.
The term Hispanic derives from Latin Hispanicus, the adjectival derivation of Latin (and Greek) Hispania (that is, the Iberian peninsula), ultimately probably of Celtiberian origin. In English the word is attested from the 16th century (and in the late 19th century in American English).
The words Spain, Spanish, and Spaniard are of the same etymology as Hispanus, ultimately.
Hispanus was the Latin name given to a person from Hispania during Roman rule. The ancient Roman Hispania, which roughly comprised what is currently called the Iberian Peninsula, included the contemporary states of Portugal, Spain, and Andorra, and the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. In English, the term Hispano-Roman is sometimes used. The Hispano-Romans were composed of people from many different indigenous tribes, in addition to Italian colonists. Some famous Hispani (plural of Hispanus) and Hispaniensis were the emperors Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Hadrian, Theodosius I and Magnus Maximus, the poets Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, Martial and Prudentius, the philosophers Seneca the Elder and Seneca the Younger, and the usurper Maximus of Hispania. A number of these men, such as Trajan, Hadrian and others, were in fact descended from Roman colonial families.
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.
- Hispanic is used to refer to modern Spain, to the Spanish language, and to the Spanish-speaking nations of the world, particularly the Americas, Pacific Islands and Asia, such as the Philippines.
- 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 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.
Before the marriage of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1469, the four Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula—the Kingdom of Portugal, the Crown of Aragon, the Crown of Castile, and the Kingdom of Navarre—were collectively called The Spains. This revival of the old Roman concept 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, possibly 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 the name of Portugal in Latin.
The terms Spain and the Spains were not interchangeable. Spain was a geographic territory, home to several kingdoms (Christian and Muslim), with separate governments, laws, languages, religions, and customs, and was the historical remnant of the Hispano-Gothic unity. 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. The term The Spains referred specifically to a collective of juridico-political units, first the Christian kingdoms, and then the different kingdoms ruled by the same king.
With the Decretos de Nueva Planta, Philip V started to organize the fusion of his kingdoms that until then were ruled as distinct and independent, but this unification process lacked a formal and juridic proclamation.
Although colloquially and literally the expression "King of Spain" or "King of the Spains" was already widespread, 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". 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".
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 (as in the Philippines, 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 Spanish ancestry. Because of their historical, linguistic, and cultural ties with Spain, Filipinos can be considered Hispanic.
Definitions in ancient Rome
The Latin gentile adjectives that belong to Hispania are Hispanus, Hispanicus, and Hispaniensis. A Hispanus is someone who is a native of Hispania with no foreign parents, while children born in Hispania of Roman parents were Hispanienses. Hispaniensis means 'connected in some way to Hispania', as in "Exercitus Hispaniensis" ('the Spanish army') or "mercatores Hispanienses" ('Spanish merchants'). Hispanicus implies 'of' or 'belonging to' Hispania or the Hispanus or of their fashion as in "gladius Hispanicus". 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 Titus Livius (Livy) said they could all understand each other, not making clear if they spoke dialects of the same language or were polyglots. 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.
Definitions in Portugal and Spain
Technically speaking, persons from Portugal or of Portuguese extraction are referred to as Lusitanians. In Portugal, Hispanic refers to something related to ancient Spain or the Spanish language and culture. 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 terms "Hispano" and "Hispánico" (which in Spain have slightly different meanings) as:
- From Spain
- Belonging or relative to Spain
- Spanish, as applied to a person
- Of or pertaining to 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
- People from the Republic of the Philippines
- Belonging or relative to Spain and Spanish-speaking countries
The modern term to identify Portuguese and Spanish territories 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 to the contrary, serves the purpose of marking a clear distinction in relation to neighboring countries' culture.
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.
Definitions in the United States
While originally the term referred primarily to the Hispanos of New Mexico within the United States, today, organizations in the country use the term as a broad catchall to refer to persons with a historical and cultural relationship with Spain regardless of race and ethnicity. The United States Census Bureau uses the ethnonyms 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  and states that Hispanics or Latinos can be of any race, any ancestry, any ethnicity.
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 six race categories:
- White or Caucasian
- Black or African American
- American Indian or Alaska Native
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
- Some Other Race
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 are 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 Latino. Because Hispanic roots are considered aligned with a European ancestry (Spain/Portugal), Hispanic 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.
A 1997 notice by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget defined Hispanic or Latino persons as being "persons who trace their origin or descent to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central and South America, and other Spanish cultures." 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 Hispanic culture or origin regardless of race."
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 or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race." 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."
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." 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. 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. 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. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission encourages any individual who believes that he or she is Hispanic to self-identify as Hispanic. The United States Department of Labor – Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs encourages the same self-identification. As a result, any individual who traces his or her origins to part of the Spanish Empire may self-identify as Hispanic, because an employer may not override an individual's self-identification.
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." 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%." 21% prefer to be referred to simply as "Americans."
Hispanicization is the process by which a place or a person absorbs characteristics of Hispanic society and culture. 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.
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(Puerto Rico was in 1898). 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 Gualdape, 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, New Iberia, Louisiana in 1779, 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.
Language retention is a common index to assimilation; according to the 2000 census, about 75% 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%, whereas in parts of Colorado and California, retention rates are lower than 30%. 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.
Spanish-speaking countries and regions
Spanish identified as sole official language
Spanish identified as co-official language
Former Spanish co-official, now identified as auxiliary
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.
Culturally, Spaniards (those living in Spain) are typically European, but they also have small traces of many peoples from the rest of Europe, such as for example, old Germania, Scandinavia, France, the Mediterranean, the Near East and northern Africa.
Language and ethnicities in Spanish-speaking areas around the world
|Continent/region||Country/territory||Languages spoken||Ethnic groups||Image||Ref(s)|
|Europe||Spain||Spanish 72%, Catalan 20%, Galician 5,5%, Basque 2,5% 
(Note: Spanish language is official nationwide, while the rest are co-official in their respective communities. The percentages shown mark the number of speakers that use each language as primary language at home.)
|88.0% Spanish, 12.0% others (Romanian, British, Moroccan, Hispanic American, German) (2009)
(See: Spanish people)
|Andorra||Catalan (official) 57.7%, Spanish 56.4%, French 14.5%, Portuguese 13.9%|||
|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 (Native mixed mostly with Spanish) 65%, Amerindian (or predominantly Amerindian) 17.5%, White (full Spanish or other European) 16.5%, other (including Black minority) 1%
(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%, Maya peoples 10.6%, Garifuna 6.1%, other 11% (2000 census)
|Costa Rica||Spanish (official)||White 81%, Mestizo 13%, Black 3%, Amerindian 1%, Chinese 1% Other 1%|||
|El Salvador||Spanish (official)||Mestizo 86%, White 12%, Amerindian 1%|||
|Guatemala||Spanish 59.4%, Amerindian languages 40.5% (23 officially recognized Amerindian languages, including K'iche, Kakchiquel, Kekchi, Mam, Garifuna, and Xinca).||Mestizo 41%, 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%, White 18.5% (2001 census)|||
|Honduras||Spanish (official), (various Amerindian languages, including Garifuna, Lenca, Miskito, Ch’orti’, and Tol). English(on the Bay Islands)||Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European) 90%, Amerindian 7%, Black 2%, White 1%|||
|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%|||
|Panama||Spanish (official), English 14% (bilingual: requires verification)||Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European) 70%, Black 14%, White 10%, Amerindian 6%|||
|South America||Argentina||Spanish (official), other European and Amerindian languages||European Argentine (mostly Spanish and Italian descent, (including Arab) and Mestizo (mixed European and Amerindian ancestry) 97.2%, Amerindian 2.4%, Black 0.4%.
(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.|||
|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%|||
|Paraguay||Paraguayan Guaraní, (official) Spanish (official)||Mestizo (mixed European and Amerindian) 55%, White 40% (European descent, mostly Spanish, German, Italian, French, Polish, Ukrainian, Arab (mostly Syrians and Lebanese) and Jew), Mulato 3.5%, Amerindian 1.5%|||
|Peru||Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara, and many minor Amazonian languages||Mestizo 60.2%, Amerindian 31.7%, White 5.89%, Black 3.57%, East Asian 0.16%.|||
|Uruguay||Spanish (official)||White (mostly from Spanish and Italian ancestries) 88%, Mestizo 8%, Black 4%, Amerindian (less than 0.5%)|||
|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 64.1%, mulatto or mestizo 26.6%, black 9.3% (2012)(Cubans)|||
|Dominican Republic||Spanish (official)||Mestizo 30%, Mulatto 45%, White 16%, African 10%|||
(Territory of the U.S. with Commonwealth status)
|Spanish, English||White (mostly of Spanish ancestry) 67.2%, Black 9.9%, Asian 0.3%, Amerindian 0.2%, mixed 4.4%, other 12% (2007)|||
|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 and western Sahara were the only Spanish overseas territories in Sub-Saharan Africa.
|Fang 85.7%, Bubi 6.5%, Mdowe 3.6%, Annobon 1.6%, Bujeba 1.1%, other 1.4% (1994 census)|||
Territory of Chile
|Spanish (official), Rapanui||Rapanui|||
|The CIA World Factbook is in the public domain. Accordingly, it may be copied freely without permission of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).|
Areas with Hispanic cultural influence
|Continent/region||Country/territory||Languages spoken ||Ethnic groups ||Ref(s)|
|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 by an ethnic minority in Zamboanga, Cavite, and Davao. Hispanic influences have impacted several native languages, such as Tagalog, Cebuano, and Ilocano. Some aspects of Filipino culture exhibit Hispanic influences.||Spanish Filipino and other Filipinos.|||
|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.||Chamorro, Filipinos, other Asians, and others|||
|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.||Micronesians, Asians, and others|||
|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.||Filipinos, Chamorro, other Asians, and others|||
|Palau||In Palau, Spanish is no longer used; instead, the people use their native languages, such as Palauan, Angaur, Sonsorolese and Tobian.||Palauan, Filipinos, other Asians, and others|||
|The CIA World Factbook is in the public domain. Accordingly, it may be copied freely without permission of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).|
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 Argentina as "milongas", same structure but different scenarios.
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 European and Native American origin, while traditional Northern Mexican music — norteño and banda — polka, has influence from polka music brought by Central European settlers to Mexico which later influenced western music. 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. Rock en Español, Latin hip-hop, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, 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.
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 Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Spain), Lope de Vega (Spain), Calderón de la Barca (Spain), Jose Rizal (Philippines), Carlos Fuentes (Mexico), Octavio Paz (Mexico), Miguel Ángel Asturias (Guatemala), George Santayana (US), José Martí (Cuba), Sabine Ulibarri (US), Federico García Lorca (Spain), Miguel de Unamuno (Spain), Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia), Rafael Pombo (Colombia), Horacio Quiroga (Uruguay), Rómulo Gallegos (Venezuela), Luis Rodriguez Varela (Philippines), Rubén Darío (Nicaragua), Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru), Giannina Braschi (Puerto Rico), Cristina Peri Rossi (Uruguay), Luisa Valenzuela (Argentina), Roberto Quesada (Honduras), Julio Cortázar (Argentina), Pablo Neruda (Chile), Gabriela Mistral (Chile), Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina), Pedro Henríquez Ureña (Dominican Republic), Ernesto Sabato (Argentina), Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel (Equatorial Guinea), Ciro Alegría (Peru), Joaquin Garcia Monge (Costa Rica), and Jesus Balmori (Philippines).
In the majority of the Hispanic countries, association football is the most popular sport. The men's national teams of Argentina, Uruguay and Spain have won the FIFA World Cup a total five times. The Spanish La Liga is one of the most popular in the world, known for FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. Meanwhile, the Argentine Primera División and Mexican Primera División are two of the strongest leagues in the Americas.
However, baseball is the most popular sport in some Central American and Caribbean countries (especially Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela), as well as in the diaspora in the United States. Notable Hispanic teams in early baseball are the All Cubans, Cuban Stars and New York Cubans. The Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum recognizes Hispanic baseball personalities. Nearly 30 percent (22 percent foreign-born Hispanics) of MLB players today have Hispanic heritage.
Several Hispanic sportspeople have been successful worldwide, such as Diego Maradona, Alfredo di Stefano, Lionel Messi, Diego Forlán (association football), Juan Manuel Fangio, Juan Pablo Montoya, Eliseo Salazar, Fernando Alonso, Marc Gené, Carlos Sainz (auto racing), Ángel Nieto, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Márquez, Marc Coma, Nani Roma (motorcycle racing), Emanuel Ginóbili, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol (basketball), Julio César Chávez, Saúl Álvarez, Carlos Monzón (boxing), Miguel Indurain, Alberto Contador, Santiago Botero, Rigoberto Urán, Nairo Quintana (cycling), Roberto de Vicenzo, Ángel Cabrera, Sergio García, Severiano Ballesteros, José María Olazábal (golf), Luciana Aymar (field hockey), Rafael Nadal, Marcelo Ríos, Guillermo Vilas, Gabriela Sabatini, Juan Martín del Potro (tennis).
The Spanish and the Portuguese took the Roman Catholic faith to their colonies in the Americas, Africa, and Asia; Roman Catholicism remains the predominant religion amongst most Hispanics. A small but growing number of Hispanics belong to a Protestant denomination.
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) 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 Sephardi Jewish ancestors long ago hid their Jewish ancestry and beliefs in fear of persecution by the Spanish Inquisition in the Iberian Peninsula and Ibero-America. The Spanish Inquisition led to many 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. 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. 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.)
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.
While a tiny minority, there are some Muslims in Latin America, in the US, and in the Philippines. Those in the Philippines live predominantly in Bangsamoro.
In the United States, some 65% of Hispanics and Latinos report themselves Catholic and 21% Protestant, with 13% having no affiliation. 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.
- Spanish language
- Latin Americans
- Culture of Spain
- Spanish Filipino
- Ibero-America (Iberian Peninsula)
- Latin Union
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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.
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