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Hispanic American Diversity

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Hispanic or Latino Americans are a group of people made up of distinct characteristics. They are a group that is linked to a heritage of common language. Hispanics or Latinos are defined by the federal government "as a person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race" (United States Census, 2000).

The Hispanic population rose "from 22.4 million in 1990 to 35.3 million in 2000." This was an increase of almost 60%. Of every five Hispanics residing in the United States, two were born abroad. As of 2000, Mexicans made up three-fifths of the United States' Hispanic population, totaling 20.6 million. Puerto Ricans were the second largest group, totaling 3.4 million. The third largest group of Hispanics residing in the United States was Cubans. Their total was 1.2 million. The number of Dominicans residing in the country was 799,768. According to the United States Census Bureau, Hispanics or Latinos will make up approximately one-third of this country's population by the year 2100. (U.S. Census, 2004).


All Hispanics do not speak Spanish at all times. Some of them do not even know the language. In 2000, a language other than English was spoken in 75% of Hispanic households. Ninety-nine percent of those households spoke Spanish. About two in five Hispanics spoke English "less than very well" (U.S. Census, 2004).

Figure 1

Language Spoken at Home and Ability to Speak English: Year 2000

Age 5 and older English at Home Non-English at Home Spoke Very Well Non-English at Home Spoke Less Than Very Well

Mexican 21.2 35.7 43.1

Puerto Rican 24.6 48.7 26.7

Cuban 13.7 40.4 45.9

Dominican 7.1 39.2 53.7

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000.

As of 2002, about 23% of the Mexican American's primary language was English. Twenty-six percent of them were bilingual, while 51% of Mexican American spoke Spanish as their primary language. Thirty-nine percent of Puerto Ricans spoke English as their primary language. Forty percent of Puerto Ricans were bilingual and 21% spoke Spanish as their primary language. Spanish is the dominant language among Cubans and Dominicans that reside in the United States. (Schaefer, 2006).


Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans are the three largest Hispanic groups in the United States. Each of these groups has a major impact in the political role in the regions where they have settled. In the past, Mexican Americans have lived in the Southwestern part of the United States. Puerto Ricans have mainly resided in the Northwestern part of the country and Cubans have mainly resided in Florida.

After World War II, Hispanics or Latinos had begun to relocate outside of their historical concentrated areas. There are a large number of Mexican Americans who have settled in the Midwest and Great Lakes areas. Puerto Ricans have settled in the Midwestern part of the country. Due to settling in such areas, they have had to "form political coalitions with other Hispanic groups" as well as with African Americans and Asian Americans. Hispanics have had to form coalitions with other Hispanic and minority groups to lobby for legislation that will be beneficial to them. This has been a difficult task. The Cubans are more conservative and tend to support the Republican Party. Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Mexican Americans are more liberal and tend to support the Democratic Party. (Garcia, 1996).

Social and Economic

In 1999, the average family income for Hispanics was $34,400, which is almost $16,000 less than average for all families as a whole. Cuban American households averaged more at $42,642. The second highest was among the Mexican American households, which earned an average of $33,516. Puerto Rican households came in at the third highest of $32, 791 and the average family income among Dominican households was $28,729. (U.S. Census, 2004).

Cubans are labeled as the most successful of the Hispanic groups. Many of the Cuban American businesses were built by catering to the people in their community. Cuban Americans are doing better than any other Hispanic or Latino group, as a whole, in the United States. Twice as many Cuban Americans have



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