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Luso Americans (occasionally known as Portuguese-Americans) are citizens of the United States whose ancestry originates in the southwest European nation of Portugal, including the offshore island groups of the Azores and Madeira.[1]

The prefix Luso- indicates a relation to Lusitania, Portugal or the Portuguese people,[2][3] as in the terms Portuguese American. It is often used alone, somewhat loosely, to refer to people of Portuguese descent in United States, South America, Africa, Indian subcontinent and Asia.

Luso is a Late Latin prefix used to denote Portuguese- in conjunction with another toponym or demonym. The word is derived from Lusitania, the Latin name for what would be modern Portugal. Lusitania was an ancient Roman province including approximately all of modern Portugal south of the Douro river and part of modern Spain (the present autonomous community of Extremadura and a small part of the province of Salamanca). It was named after the Lusitanians or Lusitanian people (an Indo-European people). Its capital was Emerita Augusta (currently Mérida, Spain), and it was initially part of the Roman Republic province of Hispania Ulterior, before becoming a province of its own in the Roman Empire.The etymology of Lusitania, like the origin of the Lusitani who gave the province their name, is unclear. The name may be of Celtic origin: Lus and Tanus, "tribe of Lusus", connecting the name with the personal Celtic name Luso and with the god Lugh.[4]

Luso-American ethnic group in the United States[edit]

This usage originated in the discussion of the history of Portuguese immigrants and its descendants, in the United States.[5] Luso-Americans like other Portuguese people are traditionally Roman Catholic. The term Luso was generally used for people of Portuguese-American heritage, origin, or background language in magazines,[6] Fraternal Societies[7] and private Portuguese institutions[8]

Luso-Americans can be found in all states and there are sizable Luso-American communities in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New York, Hawaii, Florida, Delaware and Virginia. In total, the members of this community may be more than 3.5 million Americans. Two United States counties, namely Bristol County, Rhode Island and Bristol County, Massachusetts, are home to pluralities of people of Portuguese ancestry. There was dense Portuguese settlement in the Salinas and San Joaquin Valleys in California, namely the cities of Los Banos and Hollister.[citation needed]


Azulejo tiles in the Portuguese-American neighborhood of Ironbound, New Jersey.

Portuguese is spoken in the United States by Portuguese and Lusophone communities of immigrants, especially in:

New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island

The Ironbound section of Newark, New Jersey is also called "Little Portugal". There are also Portuguese-speaking and Portuguese-based creole languages American citizens from Lusophone countries in the United States from Asia, South America, Africa and India.

Notable Luso Americans[edit]

Leroy A. Mendonca, Portuguese-American recipient of the Medal of Honor during the Korean War.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]