By Ricki Walters, Regional Diversity Trainer/Investigator

Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15 and continues through October 15. September was chosen as the commemorative month because the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua is celebrated on September 15. Mexico celebrates its independence on September 16 and Chile has its independence day on September 18.

The term Hispanic, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, refers to Spanish-speaking people in the United States of any race. On the 2000 Census form, people of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin could identify themselves as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or "other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino." More than 35 million people identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino on that Census.

Some Other Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • Of every two people added to the U.S. population between July 1, 2003, and July 1, 2004, one was Hispanic.
  • In 2050, it is projected that Hispanics will constitute 24 percent of the nation's total population.
  • The nation's Hispanic population has doubled since the 1990 census.
  • Thirteen states have at least half a million Hispanic residents.
  • In 2003, about 53,000 people of Hispanic origin people were on active duty in the armed forces.