The term Hispanic (Spanish: hispano or hispánico, Galician: hispánico, Asturian: hispanu, Basque: hispaniar, Catalan: hispà, hispàno) broadly refers to the people, nations, and cultures that have a historical link to Spain. It commonly applies to countries once colonized by the Spanish Empire in the Americas (see Spanish colonization of the Americas) and Asia, particularly the countries of Latin America and the Philippines. It could be argued that the term should apply to all Spanish-speaking cultures or countries, as the historical roots of the word specifically pertain to the Iberian region. It is difficult to label a nation or culture with one term, such as Hispanic, as the ethnicities, customs, traditions, and art forms (music, literature, dress, culture, cuisine, and others) vary greatly by country and region. The Spanish language and Spanish culture are the main traditions.
- Definitions in ancient Rome
- Definitions in Portugal and Spain
- Definitions in the United States
- Spanish speaking countries and regions
- Cultural heritage according to UNESCO
Hispanic originally referred to the people of ancient Roman Hispania, which roughly comprised the Iberian Peninsula, including the contemporary states of Spain, Portugal, Andorra, and the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar.
The term Hispanic derives from Latin Hispanicus ('Spanish'), the adjectival derivation of Latin (and Greek) Hispania ('Spain') and Hispanus/Hispanos ('Spaniard'), 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. 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, or 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 Roman name for the whole territory of the Iberian Peninsula. Initially, this territory 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. The Filipinos however can be considered Hispanics because of the culture and language that Spanish left behind. Along with English and Tagalog, Spanish used to be one of the official languages in the Philippines before being removed in 1973 by the Cory Aquino government.
Definitions in ancient Rome
The Latin gentile adjectives that belong to Hispania are Hispanus, Hispanicus, and Hispanienses. A Hispanus is someone who is a native of Hispania with no foreign parents, while children born in Hispania of (Latin) Roman parents were Hispaniensis. 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 "glaudius 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 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
The term Hispanic signifies the cultural resonance, among other elements and characteristics, of the descendants of the people who inhabited ancient Hispania (Iberian Peninsula). It has been used throughout history for many purposes, including drawing a contrast to the Moors and differentiating explorers and settlers.
Technically speaking, persons from Portugal or of Portuguese extraction are referred to as Lusitanians. In Portugal, Hispanic refers to something related to ancient Hispania, Spain or the Spanish language and culture, Portugal. 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:
Note that both terms include Portugal as part of "Hispania" as Hispania is the old Roman name given to the entire Iberian peninsula and their peoples, including the Lusitanians.
The common modern term to identify Portuguese and Spanish cultures 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 on the opposite, 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
Today, organizations in the United States 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 U.S. Census Bureau defines 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" and states that Hispanics or Latinos can be of any race, any ancestry, any ethnicity. Generically, this limits the definition of Hispanic or Latino to people from the Caribbean, Central and South America, or other Hispanic (Spanish or Portuguese) culture or origin, regardless of race. Latino can refer to males or females, while Latina refers to only females.
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:
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 Latinos. Because Hispanic roots are considered aligned with a European ancestry (Spain/Portugal), Hispanic/Latino 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 or Portuguese Empire may self-identify as Hispanic, because an employer may not override an individual's self-identification.
The 1970 Census was the first time that a "Hispanic" identifier was used and data collected with the question. The definition of "Hispanic" has been modified in each successive census.
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%." Twenty-one percent 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. (But it should be noted that the language of the Native Americans existed before this, until the invasion and forced assimilation by the Spanish.) 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. 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 percent 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 percent, whereas in parts of Colorado and California, retention rates are lower than 30 percent. 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
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.
This diverse population was created due to the transatlantic slave trade and the forced labor of indigenous Americans. Furthermore, the Spanish implemented an "Encomienda" system which encouraged indigenous women to marry Spaniards, as their offspring would then be free of the oppressive encomienda regulations. In order to control the diversifying population, the leadership of the Spanish speaking colonies created a caste system based on the ethnicity of a child's parents.
Culturally, Spaniards (those living in Spain) are typically European, but they also have small traces of many peoples from the rest of Europe, the Near East and the Mediterranean areas of northern Africa.
The Miguel de Cervantes Prize is awarded to Hispanic writers, whereas the Latin Grammy Award recognizes Hispanic and Portuguese musicians, and the Platino Awards as given to outstanding Hispanic films.
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 Mexico as "corridos" or 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 Spanish and Native American origin, while traditional Northern Mexican music — norteño and banda — is more influenced by country-and-western music and the polka, brought by Central European settlers to Mexico. 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. Latin pop, Rock en Español, Latin hip-hop, Salsa, Merengue, colombian 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 Argentine, 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 Latinos) 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).
Notable Hispanic sports television networks are ESPN Latin America, Fox Sports Latin America and TyC Sports.
With regard to religious affiliation among Spanish-speakers, Christianity — specifically Roman Catholicism — is usually the first religious tradition that comes to mind. The Spaniards and the Portuguese took the Roman Catholic faith to Ibero-America and the Philippines, and 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 a large number of 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. Though, it should be noted, that 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 the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao province.
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.
Cultural heritage according to UNESCO
The Hispanic world, according to the United Nations World Heritage Committee, has contributed substantially more than any other ethnicity to the cultural heritage of the world. A World Heritage Cultural Site is a place such as a building, city, complex, or monument that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as being of special cultural significance. Of a total of 802 Cultural World Heritage Sites recognized by the United Nations as of July 2015, 114 are located in Hispanic countries. Spain alone has 39 cultural sites, only second in the world to Italy.