Journal Issue: Critical Health Issues for Children and Youth Volume 4 Number 3 Winter 1994
A Word About Terminology
"Hispanic" is the term used by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, for all individuals with ethnic origins from countries where Spanish is the primary language. Included are Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Central and South America, and Spain. In the census materials, where detailed information is presented, data on persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban origin are provided, while those who are from Spain or are identified only as Hispanic are categorized in an "other Hispanic" group. The term "mainland Puerto Rican" is used to describe Puerto Ricans living in the continental United States. In numerous studies, the terms "Mexican-American" and "Cuban-American" are used to describe persons of Mexican or Cuban descent who reside in the United States but whose citizenship is not explicitly defined.
Persons of Hispanic origin are sometimes called Latinos, Spanish Americans or Hispanos. While most individuals identify themselves by their country of origin, one of these generic terms usually is used to describe all subgroups. "Hispanic" is the most general term, as it encompasses all Spanish-speaking origins. "Latino" usually is used to describe persons with ethnic origins from a Spanish-speaking country in the Americas. Because this is the term that best describes the vast majority of people in the United States who originated from a Spanish-speaking country, here it will be used interchangeably with "Hispanic."