Salient characteristics: Over the last 500 years, throughout what was the Spanish empire in the Americas, Spanish, indigenous and African cultures meshed, evolving into distinct national or regional cultures.
Spanish speakers have also called much of what is now the United States home for centuries. From the mid-1500's, when Spaniards first settled St. Augustine, Florida, and Spanish and Mexican populations first settled in the Southwest, to the enclaves of Latinos that sprung up in major U.S. cities in the 20th century, Hispanics have played a vital role in the social and economic development of the U.S.
Far from being homogeneous, U.S. Latinos are a hodge-podge of ethnicities. Political views, education, and socio-economic status vary widely. Those recently arrived may still think of themselves as mejicano, cubano, argentino, or colombiano. Second-generation Hispanics are already on