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This article is about the descendants of Spanish and Mexican settlers in the US South. Not to be confused with Hispanic, the English translation of Hispano. For other uses of the term, see Hispano (disambiguation).
For other American descendants of Spaniards, see Spanish American.
Total population
(est. 1.5 million
up to roughly 0.5% of the U.S. population
Regions with significant populations
American English · Spanish
Spanish in the United States · New Mexican Spanish · Ladino
Roman Catholic · Protestant · Agnostic or Atheist · Jewish minorities.
Related ethnic groups
Spanish Americans · Mexican Americans · white Hispanic and Latino Americans · Native Americans in the United States to some extent.

Hispanos (from Spanish: adj. prefix Hispano- relating to Spain, from Latin: Hispānus) are people of colonial Spanish descent in what is today the United States who retained a predominantly Spanish culture. The distinction was made to compensate for flawed U.S. Census practices in the 1930s which used to characterize Hispanic people as non-white.[2]


Though the word could describe anyone of Spanish descent, it is specifically used to refer to Hispanic and Latino Americans who live in the Southwestern United States which was formerly the northernmost region of New Spain. They are mostly descendants of Spanish settlers (with Basques and Conversos - Spanish Jews converted to Christianity to escape persecution from the Spanish Inquisition), Mexicans (white Mexicans, mestizos, and indigenous Mexicans) who arrived during the Spanish colonial period and the Mexican period, and Mestizos of mixed Spanish and Native American ancestry. Some Hispanos differentiate themselves culturally from the population of Mexican Americans whose ancestors arrived in the Southwest after the Mexican Revolution.[3][4]


As the United States expanded westward, it annexed lands with a long-established population of Spanish-speaking settlers, who were overwhelmingly or exclusively of white Spanish ancestry (cf. White Mexican). Prior to incorporation into the United States (and briefly, into Independent Texas), Hispanos had enjoyed a privileged status in the society of New Spain, and later in post-colonial Mexico.

Regional subgroups of Hispanos were named for their geographic location in the so-called "internal provinces" of New Spain:

Another group of Hispanos, the Isleños ("Islanders"), are named after their geographic origin in the Old World, viz. the Canary Islands. In the US today, this group is primarily associated with the state of Louisiana.


Hispano populations include Californios in California, Arizona and Nevada, along with Utah and southwestern Wyoming, which had no Hispano communities, and western Colorado, that had no Californio communities); Nuevomexicanos in New Mexico and Colorado; Tejanos in Texas; Isleños in Louisiana and Texas; and Adaeseños (of Canarian, Mexican and Amerindian descent) in northwestern Louisiana. While generally integrated into mainstream American societies, Hispanos have retained much of their colonial culture, and have also absorbed several American Indian and Cajun traditions. Many Hispanos also identify with later waves of Mexican immigrants that arrived after these lands became part of the US.

Many Hispanos, particularly those of younger generations, identify more with the mainstream population and may understand little or no Spanish. Most of them are Roman Catholic Christians. Several linguists and folklorists have studied the culture and language of some of the Hispanic communities, including Samuel G. Armistead, who studied the Isleño communities of Louisiana, and Juan Bautista Rael, who studied the Nuevomexicanos communities.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "B03001. HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY SPECIFIC ORIGIN - Universe: TOTAL POPULATION". 2007 American Community Survey. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  2. ^ William W. Winnie, Jr. (May 1960). "The Spanish Surname Criterion for Identifying Hispanos in the Southwestern United States: A Preliminary Evaluation". Social Forces. Oxford University Press. pp. 363–366. Retrieved 2015-03-01. 
  3. ^ [1] Archived April 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ [2] Archived October 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Alexander V. King. "California Spanish Genealogy - Californio Families". Sfgenealogy.com. Retrieved 2015-03-01.