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Total population
C. 1.8 million[1]
est. up to 0.5% of the U.S. population
Regions with significant populations
Southwestern United States
American English  · New Mexican Spanish · Ladino · Louisiana French
Predominantly Christian (Roman Catholic · Protestant) with Agnostic · Atheist · Jewish minorities
Related ethnic groups
Spanish Americans · Mexican Americans · White Hispanic Americans · Native Americans in the United States

Hispanos (from Spanish: adj. prefix Hispano- relating to Spain, from Latin: Hispānus) are Hispanic residents of the United States who are culturally descended from the original Spanish-speaking settlers of New Spain and Mexico. They may be variously of Spanish, Criollo Spanish, mestizo, or Indigenous origin. Residing in what is today the Southwestern United States, they have retained a predominantly Hispanic culture, having lived in that region since it was ceded from Mexico to the United States following the Mexican-American War. Their population in the American Southwest is around 1.8 million and the largest of these groups, numbering around 750,000, are the Hispanos of New Mexico, originating in Spanish and Mexican Santa Fe de Nuevo México, they have left a large impact on New Mexico’s culture, cuisine, and music.

The term Hispano is used to compensate for flawed U.S. Census practices in the 1930s which categorized people of the American Southwest as recent immigrants rather than centuries-long inhabitants of the Spanish and Mexican territories Alta California (modern California), Santa Fe de Nuevo México (modern New Mexico), and Tejas (modern Texas).[2]


Though the word Hispano in Spanish could describe anyone of Spanish ancestry, when used in English, the term specifically refers to those who have lived in the Southwestern United States for centuries, who did not cross any border into the United States, but rather came under U.S. rule due to the country's territorial expansion. They have lived in the region from the time that it constituted the northernmost part of the colony of New Spain. This colony largely gained independence as the new country of Mexico. Later, the northernmost parts of Mexico became a part of the USA in the wake of its Texas annexation and the Mexican-American War.

Hispanos are mostly descendants of Spanish settlers (various regional ethnic groups from Spain, including Castilians, Andalusians, Extremeños, Galicians, Catalans, but also Basques and Sephardic Jewish-origin Conversos who converted to Christianity to escape persecution from the Spanish Inquisition) and Mexicans (Spanish Mexicans or other hispanicized European Mexicans, mestizos, and indigenous Mexicans) who arrived during the Spanish colonial period and the Mexican period.

Most Hispanos differentiate themselves culturally from the population of Mexican Americans whose ancestors arrived in the Southwest after the Mexican Revolution.[3][4]


As the United States expanded westward, it annexed lands with a long-established population of Spanish-speaking settlers. Prior to incorporation into the United States (and briefly, into Independent Texas), Hispanos had enjoyed a privileged status in the society of New Spain, and later in post-colonial Mexico.

Regional subgroups of Hispanos were named for their geographic location in the so-called "internal provinces" of New Spain:

Another group of Hispanos, the Isleños ("Islanders"), are named after their geographic origin in the Old World, viz. the Canary Islands. In the US today, this group is primarily associated with the state of Louisiana.


Hispano populations include Californios in California, Arizona and Nevada, along with Utah and southwestern Wyoming, which had no Hispano communities, and western Colorado, that had no Californio communities; Neomexicanos in New Mexico and Colorado; Tejanos in Texas; Isleños in Louisiana and Texas; and Adaeseños (of Canarian, Mexican and Amerindian descent) in northwestern Louisiana. While generally integrated into mainstream American societies, Hispanos have retained much of their colonial culture, and have also absorbed several American Indian and Cajun traditions. Many Hispanos also identify with later waves of Mexican immigrants that arrived after these lands became part of the US.

Many Hispanos, particularly those of younger generations, identify more with the mainstream population and may understand little or no Spanish. Most of them are Roman Catholic Christians. Several linguists and folklorists have studied the culture and language of some of the Hispanic communities, including Samuel G. Armistead, who studied the Isleño communities of Louisiana, and Juan Bautista Rael, who studied the Neomexicano communities.

Notable people

For a more comprehensive list, see List of Hispanos.

See also


  1. ^ "B03001. HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN - Universe: TOTAL POPULATION". 2007 American Community Survey. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
  2. ^ William W. Winnie Jr. (May 1960). "The Spanish Surname Criterion for Identifying Hispanos in the Southwestern United States: A Preliminary Evaluation". Social Forces. 38 (4): 363–366. doi:10.2307/2573048. JSTOR 2573048.
  3. ^ [1] Archived April 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ [2] Archived October 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Alexander V. King. "California Spanish Genealogy - Californio Families". SFgenealogy. Retrieved 2022-04-05.