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Hispanic Heritage Month - Teaching About Ethnic and Cultural History

  • Fast Facts - The Hispanic Population in the U.S.

  • Hispanic Population and the 2010 U.S. Census

  • Hispanic or Latino Population - U.S. Census Map, 2010

  • Hispanic Roots – Breakdown of U.S. Hispanic Population by Specific Origin, 2014

  • Hispanics by Country of Origin in Miami-Dade

  • Flags of Hispanic Countries of Origin

  • Hispanic or Latino?

  • Hispanics and Identity

  • An Overview of Latin American History (World Book Advanced, 2014)

  • U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Maps of Latin America

Hispanic Heritage Month - Teaching About Ethnic and Cultural History

How do you ensure that students will get the most out of the instructional time devoted each year to commemorating the history and contributions of the various ethnic and cultural groups we study? How do you avoid trivializing or marginalizing the group you are exploring with students?

Below are some suggestions for Hispanic Heritage Month. These “DOs” are also applicable to any ethnic or cultural group you are studying throughout the school year.

  1. Incorporate Hispanic heritage into the curriculum year-round, not just in September and October. Use Hispanic Heritage Month to “dig deeper” into history and make connections with the past.

  1. Continue learning. Explore how to provide an in-depth and thorough understanding of the contributions of Hispanics to the United States. Textbooks often do not contain detailed information about the struggles of ethnic or cultural groups, so use the textbook as just one of many resources. While exploring multiple resources, help your students understand the importance of exploring reliable sources and sources that provide multiple perspectives on history.

  1. Relate lessons to other parts of your curriculum, so that focusing on an event or leader, expands upon rather than diverts from your curriculum.

  1. Plan meaningful school and classroom activities that address the history, values, and contributions of Hispanics to the United States. Without meaningful and thoughtful classroom lessons as the primary focus of Hispanic Heritage Month, schools run the risk of trivializing their well-intended message to students. Special programs such as school-wide dance or music performances and ethnic luncheons may actually do as much to reinforce stereotypes than negate them. The special programs should complement the classroom lessons.

  1. Connect issues in the past to current issues to make history relevant to students' lives. For example, ask students to gather information with a focus on what social issues exist today and how a particular leader has worked to change society.

Source: Adapted from Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and,
Fast Facts – The Hispanic Population of the United States

  • The Census describes Hispanic or Latino ethnicity as "a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race."

  • Hispanic people are the largest minority in the United States. Only Mexico has a larger Hispanic population than the United States.

  • As of 2014, there are an estimated 55 million Hispanic people in the United States. That is just over 17% of the total U.S. population.

  • By 2060, the Census Bureau projects that there will be almost 119 million Hispanic people residing in the United States and that they will comprise 28% of the total population.

  • Two-thirds of the Hispanic people in the United States are of Mexican background, according to 2014 Census estimates.

  • These are the states where more than 30% of the population is Hispanic, based on 2014 Census estimates: Arizona, 30.3%; California, 38.6%; New Mexico, 47.3%; and Texas, 38.4%.

  • There are more than one million Hispanic residents in eight U.S. states - Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Texas.

  • Second only to English, Spanish is the language most used in the United States, as of 2014. It is spoken by approximately 35.8 million Hispanic people in the country, plus an additional 2.6 million non-Hispanics.

  • Of the English-speaking Hispanics in the United States, a majority, 59%, are bilingual as of 2013 estimates.

  • As of 2013, 38.4 million U.S. residents, or 13% of the population, speaks Spanish at home, according to Census estimates.

  • 8.4% of voters in the 2012 elections were Hispanic.

Fast Facts – The Hispanic Population of the United States continued

  • How do Hispanic people define their race? (2010 Census)

  • Some other race: 18,503,103 - 36.7% of the total

  • Two or more races: 3,042,592 - 6% of the total

  • Black: 1,243,471 - 2.5% of the total

Source: Updated by CNN in April 2016

Hispanic Population and the 2010 Census

Background on the U.S. Census - The goal of the U.S. Census is to count every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The data collected by the census determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities.

Approximately 74 percent of the households returned their census forms by mail during the 2010 Census. The remaining households were counted by census workers walking neighborhoods throughout the United States. 

Overview of the Hispanic Population in the 2010 Census - According to the 2010 U.S. Census, of the 308.7 million people who lived in the U.S. on April 1, 2010, 50.5 million (16 percent) were Hispanic or Latino. That was an increase of 15.2 million for the Hispanic population since the 2000 Census. Furthermore, the numbers from 2010 showed that more than half of the total population growth in the U.S. from 2000 to 2010 was due to the Hispanic population increase. The total population in the U.S. grew ten percent over the decade, but the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent.

Growth within the Hispanic Population - Population growth varied within the Hispanic group. People of Mexican origin accounted for three-fourths of the increase in the Hispanic population from 2000 to 2010. They also had the largest numeric change, 11.2 million, as their population grew over the ten years from 20.6 million in 2000 to 31.8 million in 2010. Cubans increased 44 percent, increasing from 1.2 million to 1.8 million over the decade. Puerto Ricans increased from 3.4 million to 4.6 million, or 36 percent. Hispanics who marked "other" grew 22 percent, from 10.0 million in 2000 to 12.3 million in 2012.

Growth by Region - The Hispanic population grew in every region of the U.S., but the South and Midwest saw the greatest increase. In the South, the Hispanic population grew 57 percent over the decade, four times more than the region's total population. In the Midwest, the Hispanic population increased by 49 percent, more than twelve times the total population in that region. Even though it was at a slower rate, the Hispanic population did grow significantly in the West and Northeast. In the West, the Hispanic population grew by 34 percent, more than twice the region's total population. The Northeast saw the Hispanic population increase by 33 percent, ten times the growth of its total population. According to the 2010 Census, California had the biggest Hispanic population with 14.0 million. Texas was second with 9.5 million. Florida was third with 4.2 million.

Hispanic Population and the 2010 Census continued

White Births No Longer Majority - Also, according to Census data, white births were no longer in the majority in the United States. Over a 12-month period which ended in July 2011, Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans, and mixed races made up 50.4 percent of all births, becoming a majority for the first time in the history of the United States. The Census data showed that the increasing number of Latin Americans immigrating to the U.S. accelerated the decline of the white birth majority. From 2000 to 2010, more Hispanic births were recorded in the U.S. than Hispanics moving into the country. With the Hispanic population at the median age of 27 in 2012, the trend was expected to continue increasing. With the shift in majority births, the U.S. passed a demographic milestone, moving away from a white “baby boomer” culture toward a more global, multi-ethnic country with the Hispanic population leading the way.
Source: United States Census Bureau,




On August 18th, 2011 the U.S. Census Bureau released Summary File 1 for the state of Florida. One of the components of this release is the Hispanic or Latino Population by Specific Origin. In this issue of Data Flash we present the breakdown for Miami-Dade County and compare it to the previous decennial census conducted in the year 2000.

Between 2000 and 2010 the Hispanic or Latino population in the County increased by 25.7 percent, while the Not Hispanic or Latino component declined by 9.3 percent.

In 2010 Hispanic or Latinos accounted for

65.1 percent of the County’s population, up from 57.3 percent in 2000. Within the Hispanic or Latino population the largest group is Cubans that account for more than one-half (52.7 percent) of the Hispanic population or 34.3 percent of the total population.

Second on this measure are Colombians with a total of 114,701 followed by Nicaraguans with 105,495 and Puerto Ricans with 92,358.

Dominicans, Hondurans and Mexicans had a share of between 2.1 and 2.3 percent of the population each. Venezuelans, Peruvians, and Argentineans each had between 1.1 and 1.9 percent of the population or to put it in numerical terms, between 28,000 and 47,000 persons.

Among Hispanics with at least 40,000 persons in 2010, Venezuelans, Hondurans and Colombians showed the highest percentage growth since 2000, with increases of 117.0, 102.0, and 63.7 percent respectively.

Chart 1. Population of Hispanic or Latino Origin , Percent of Total Population (2% or more), 2010



4.2% 3.7%

2.3% 2.2% 2.1%

Colombian Cuban Dominican Honduran Mexican Nicaraguan Puerto Rican Republic

Chart 2. Hispanic or Latino Origin, Selected Countries Percent Change 2000-2010 Miami-Dade County

117.0% 104.3%







Argentinean Colombian Dominican Ecuadorian Guatemalan Honduran Salvadoran Venezuelan Republic

Hispanics by Country of Origin in Miami-Dade

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Decennial Census 2000 and 2010. Miami-Dade County, Department of Planning and Zoning 2011.

k:\hispanic heritage\2011-hispanics-by-origin (1)_page_2.jpg

Flags of Hispanic Countries of Origin

50.5 million people identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino on the 2010 U.S. Census. As of July 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 56.6 million Hispanics live in the United States. That is just over 17% of the total U.S. population making Hispanics the largest ethnic or racial minority in the nation. By 2060, the Census Bureau projects that there will be almost 128.8 million Hispanic people in the United States and that they will comprise 31% of the total population.

argentinian flag

bolivian flag

chilean flag

colombian flag

costa rican flag
Costa Rica

cuban flag

flag of the dominican republic
Dominican Republic

ecuadorian flag

el salvadoran flag
El Salvador

guatemalan flag

honduran flag

mexican flag

nicaraguan flag

panamanian flag

paraguayan flag

peruvian flag

puerto rican flag
Puerto Rico

spanish flag

u.s. flag
United States

uruguayan flag


Hispanic or Latino?

Which is correct – Hispanic or Latino? It is a question that Hispanics and non-Hispanics have asked when deciding what to call the over 50 million Americans who trace their roots to Spain or Latin America. Even though both terms are used interchangeably, there is a difference between Hispanic and Latino. Hispanic is derived from the Latin word for “Spain.” It is a term that originally denoted a relationship to ancient Hispania (Iberian Peninsula). Now, the term Hispanic refers to language. A person is referred to as Hispanic if they or their ancestors come from a country where Spanish is spoken.

Latino refers more exclusively to persons or communities of Latin American origin.

Latino is derived from Spanish word for “Latin,” but as an English word is probably a shortening of the Spanish word “latino americano,” which in English means "Latin American.”

Comparison Chart




The term Hispanic refers to language. A person is referred to as Hispanic if they or their ancestors come from a country where Spanish is spoken.

Latino refers to geography. Specifically, to Latin America; i.e., people from the Caribbean (Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic), South America (Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, etc.) and Central America (Honduras, Costa Rica, etc.)

Derived From

The term "Hispanic" comes from a Latin word for Spain "Hispania,” which later became "España.” It refers to a person of Latin American or Iberian ancestry, fluent in Spanish.

The term "Latino" is shortened from Spanish “latino americano,” (Latin American) thus narrowing the scope of meaning to Central and South America, and Spanish speaking Caribbean Islands.


“Hispanic" is primarily used along the Eastern seaboard of the U.S., and favored by those of Caribbean and South American ancestry or origin. The U.S. Census Bureau also uses the term Hispanic in the census.

“Latino” is principally used west of the Mississippi, where it has displaced “Chicano” and “Mexican American.”

Hispanic or Latino? continued

According to a survey released by the Pew Hispanic Center, only 24% of "Hispanic" adults said they most often identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino. About half said they identified themselves most frequently by their family's national origin; e.g., Cuban, Venezuelan, Costa Rican, Mexican. An additional 21% said they called themselves American most often, a figure that climbed to 40% among those born in the U.S. Most people are beginning to dislike being called Hispanic or Latino and prefer to be called simply by their true ethnic group such as Cuban, Venezuelan, Mexican, Colombian, Bolivian, etc.

ft_hispanic-latino-texasSource: Pew Research Center, 2013
Hispanics and Identity

When it comes to describing their identity, most Hispanics prefer their family’s country of origin over other terms. Half (51%) say that most often they use their family’s country of origin to describe their identity. That includes such terms as “Mexican” or “Cuban” or “Dominican,” for example. Just one-quarter (24%) say they use the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino” to most often to describe their identity. And 21% say they use the term “American” most often.

  • Hispanic” or “Latino”? Most don’t care - but among those who do, “Hispanic” is preferred. Half (51%) say they have no preference for either term. When a preference is expressed, “Hispanic” is preferred over “Latino” by more than a two-to-one margin - 33% versus 14%.

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