Here are five facts to help mark National Hispanic Heritage Month, which began this week.
1. National Hispanic Heritage Month traces its roots to the 1960s. The month honors the history, culture and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. The commemoration began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week and was expanded in 1988 to cover a 30-day period from Sept. 15-Oct. 15. This period was chosen because Sept. 15 marks the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Additionally, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence during the month.
2. The United States is home to 60.6 million Hispanic people. This makes people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority, according to census data. Hispanics constitute 18.5 percent of the nation’s total population. Approximately 69,000 Postal Service employees — or roughly 10 percent of the USPS workforce — identify as Hispanic or Latino.
3. Twelve states have 1 million or more Hispanic residents. These states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas, according to census data. An analysis by the Pew Research Center shows more than half of Latinos in the United States live in California, Texas and Florida.
4. The share of Latinos who are immigrants is on the decline. From 2007-2017, the number of Latino immigrants increased slightly, from 18 million to 19.7 million, according to Pew. However, during this period, Latino immigrants made up a smaller overall share of the Latino population, decreasing from 40 percent to 33 percent as the population of U.S.-born Latinos increased and the arrival of new immigrants slowed.
5. Many Hispanic Americans have been honored with stamps. The list includes Civil War hero David G. Farragut; composer John Philip Sousa; entertainers Desi Arnaz, Selena and Lydia Mendoza; labor leader Cesar Chavez; educator Jaime Escalante; journalist Ruben Salazar; artist Martín Ramírez; and designer Oscar de la Renta.