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Difference between Latinos and Hispanics: Is There Any?

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How often do people hear different words to describe residents of Latin America? The most widely used ones are Hispanic vs Latino. But what exactly do they mean, and can you see any difference in meaning at all? Some consider these words a race, others refer them to nationality. However, the only conclusion you can make is the following: these words have some differences since it would be strange to have 2 various words with one meaning. If you're also puzzled about the difference between Hispanic and Latin, let's come to one common ground in this article.

Are Latinos and Hispanics the same?

Both these words are used to name people who originate from Spain and speak the same language living in Latin America. Lots of people believe they're used to describe a race like Black, White, or Asian. However, either races or ethnicities are different in this area.

Some cultural peculiarities have left an impact on the appearance of terms “Hispanic” and “Latino.” In fact, these are groups of people that share common or similar cultures and traditions and have a broader meaning than ethnicity. Naturally, they may have certain features in appearance and behavior too, but it's not reflected by these notions.

About Latinos

“Latinos” is a term used to describe people due to their geographical location. These are predominantly people living in the central and southern regions of South America and the Caribbean. Consequently, the vast majority of Latin American natives can be called Latinos despite their color of skin, hair, and eye shape. All citizens, no matter whether this is Brazil, Peru, or Mexico, can be called in this way.

About Hispanics

“Hispanic” is a term used to describe Spanish speakers and/or individuals of Spanish origin. Many people who live in South America consider Spanish their native language, so there's nothing surprising they're named so. Consequently, if a person lives in a Spanish-speaking country or is an ancestor of such a person, he or she is considered Hispanic too.

Latin American vs Hispanic: What's the difference?

It's clear both terms describe distinctive people's peculiarities and features. Moreover, the same person can be called Latino and Hispanic since he or she can live in Latin America and speak Spanish too. However, if you can call a Brazilian Latino, he would consider it offensive to be called Hispanic since the official language of this country is Portuguese. But are these all points that make the terms different? Let's find out.

Historical aspect of Hispanic vs Latino

Both these words have a long history and have been known for centuries, but not in the US. However, they have become twice more popular after the United States Census introduced them. The notion “Hispanic” was added to the official glossary earlier. It was 1980 when the US census used it for the first time: respondents were asked to identify their race, and one of the variants offered was Spanish/Hispanic. The word “Latino” was introduced on the census only in 2000, being defined as an ethnicity option.

Latin American vs Hispanic

These terms in media

There's a viewpoint the media prefers the term “Latino” since it isn't as narrow as the second one. Hispanic is considered to reflect only the language people use for communication, while Latino is also referred to music, culture, people, etc. One more approach says that the term “Latino” is more inclusive and popular.

Which term to use?

Both words can be applied to characterize the community of people living in Latin America, but they aren't interchangeable. Before you label anyone with any of these words, there's sense to ask what this person associates himself with. If you're confident that an individual originates from one of the countries in Latin America, probably, he or she will admit to being called Latino. However, the term “Hispanic” should be used carefully since it can sound offensive to some categories of people. If you're not sure what word to choose, it's better to call a person by the country of origin or simply use the word “American” instead.

People who don't want to call people with wrong labels should remember the following: everyone who lives in Latin America is known as Latino, and this is a traditional term used to describe that group. However, you can use the term Hispanic only if you speak about Spanish-language population living on one of the American continents.