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Hispanic and Latino Culture within the USA

The two terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” refer to ethnic groups with a shared culture, language, and history. Those who claim to be Hispanic are generally defined as people who come from Spain or any Spanish-speaking country in Latin America. There are different definitions for the term Latino and this group usually includes people whose origins are in Latin America. The entire population of the USA is made up of over 17% (or 53 million) Hispanic and Latin American people.

Culture

The geographical, social, and economic backgrounds of the Hispanic and Latin American peoples are very diverse. This means each one is different according to their country of origin and family background or heritage. Yet, there are some similarities in culture that unite these peoples, no matter how diverse their backgrounds.   

Language

In terms of language, Spanish is one of the most unifying characteristics of Hispanic Americans. Over 35 years ago, around 5% of the US population, which equates to approximately11 million people, was made up of Spanish speakers. Four years ago, some 32 years later, this number had risen to over 13% (or 38 million people). The children of families of Hispanic origin were often taught Spanish as a means of continuing or passing down culture and heritage. This bilingualism has contributed to reviving Spanish within the USA.

Religious Beliefs

Most Hispanic and Latino American people identify themselves as Protestant or Catholic and religion is an important part of their culture. Overall, the groups constitute a large part of the USA’s Christian community.   

Food

The cuisines favored by Hispanic and Latin Americans are extremely popular throughout the USA, and these influence the food preferences and eating habits of all Americans to a significant extent. The cuisine of Latin American people typically incudes dishes with a corn base such as tacos, tortillas, tamales as well as a variety of salsas. Latino condiments like mole, guacamole, and pico de gallo are also big hits. Indeed the popularity of salsa and tortilla chips is such that these are now among the best-selling snacks in the USA.     

Family Life

Family is strongly valued in the culture of Hispanic and Latin Americans and both tend to favor the larger, tight-knit family model. For instance, it is quite usual for up to three generations of a family to live close to one another or even in the same house. Usually, grandparents play a crucial role in the upbringing of grandchildren. There tends to be a lot of focus on group interactions within Hispanic and Latin American families since family well-being is very important. Large family get-togethers are common.    

Entertainment and Media

There are several Spanish language channels and other media outlets in the USA. These range from smallish local radio stations to large broadcasting networks of the commercial variety. Telemundo and Univision are the biggest broadcasting networks. These broadcast television programs in the Spanish language to most of the USA. Facilities like these allow Hispanic and Latin American people to follow soccer in the USA, a practice that has made soccer more popular as a sport throughout the country.

The USA’s music scene has been influenced to a great extent by Hispanic and Latin American preferences. The “Hot Latin Songs” chart was introduced by Billboard magazine in 1986, and this features the top performing songs on the USA’s Spanish speaking radio stations. The “Top Latin Albums” chart was additionally introduced by the same source in 1993, and this features the USA’s best-selling Latin music albums. America’s Record Industry Association introduced the “Gold and Platinum Awards (or “Los Premios de Oro y Platino”), and this certifies any Latin music recordings with at least half Spanish content. Many musicians of Hispanic and Latino origin – including Selena, Jennifer Lopez, and Christina Aguilera – are globally renowned.

Over 50% of the Hispanic and Latin American population live in the three states of California (biggest population at more than 14 million), Florida (approximately 4 million), and Texas (approximately 10 million). There is also a considerable population of Hispanic and Latino people (estimated at more than 3 million) in New York. Therefore, there are extremely vibrant Hispanic and Latino communities in these states and many other US cities.

In mid-September, the National Hispanic Heritage month gets underway. It is likely there will be some Hispanic and Latino events happening in your district!