National Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15. During this time, the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean are celebrated.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon B. Johnson when Congres passed Pub. L. No. 90-498. In 1988 President Ronald Regan expanded it to cover a 30-day period. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Pub. L. No. 100-402.
The laws are codified in the United States Code at 36 U.S.C. § 126.
The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile celebrated their independence on September 16 and 18 respectively.
As of the 2020 Census, there are 62,080,044 people who identified as Hispanic or Latino in the United States.
It is acknowledged that the term Hispanic Heritage can be problematic. Here is an NPR article that discusses the decision to call September 15 - October 15 Hispanic Heritage Month, including governmental influences in the choice of the term.
The term Hispanic is used by the U.S. government to identify persons who trace their origins to Spanish-speaking countries or regions.
The term Latino refers to any individual, regardless of racial origin, who originates from a Spanish-speaking region in Latin America or the Caribbean.
For a general discussion of these various ethnic labels, see F. Chris Garcia and Gabriel R. Sanchez, Hispanics and the U.S. Political System: Moving into the Mainstream (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson-Prentice Hall, 2007): 6–14; Kim Geron, Latino Political Power (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2005): 3–4; and Suzanne Oboler, Ethnic Labels, Latino Lives: Identity and the Politics of (Re)Presentation in the United States (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995): i–xxi, 1–16.
Hispanic Countries are Argentia, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Peurto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Latin American countries are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
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