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Hispanic Americans and Latino Americans (Spanishhispanos[isˈpanos]) are people in the United States who are descendants of the Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking countries of Hispanic America and Spain.[6][7][8] It is the largest population of Latino Americans and Hispanics outside of Latin America.[9] More generally, it includes all persons in the United States who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino, whether of full or partial ancestry.[10][11][12][13] For the 2010 United States Census, people counted as "Hispanic" or "Latino" were those who identified as one of the specific Hispanic or Latino categories listed on the census questionnaire ("Mexican," "Puerto Rican," or "Cuban") as well as those who indicated that they were "other Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino." The national origins classified as Hispanic or Latino by the United States Census Bureau are the following: SpanishArgentineCubanColombianPuerto RicanDominicanMexicanCosta RicanGuatemalanHonduranNicaraguanPanamanianSalvadoranBolivianChileanEcuadorianParaguayanPeruvianUruguayan, and Venezuelan. Other U.S. government agencies have slightly different definitions of the term, including Brazilians and other Portuguese-speaking groups. The Census Bureau uses the terms Hispanic and Latino interchangeably.[14]

"Origin" can be viewed as the ancestry, nationality group, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person's parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. People who identify as Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino may be of any race.[15][16][17][18] As the only specifically designated category of ethnicity in the United States (other than non-Hispanic/Latino)[clarification needed], Hispanics form a pan-ethnicity incorporating a diversity of inter-related cultural and linguistic heritages. Most Hispanic Americans are of MexicanPuerto RicanCubanSalvadoranDominicanGuatemalan, or Colombian origin. The predominant origin of regional Hispanic populations varies widely in different locations across the country.[16][19][20][21][22]

Hispanic Americans are the second fastest-growing ethnic group by percentage growth in the United States after Asian Americans.[23]Hispanic/Latinos overall are the second-largest ethnic group in the United States, after non-Hispanic Whites (a group which, like Hispanics and Latinos, is composed of dozens of sub-groups of differing national origin).[24]

Hispanics have lived within what is now the United States continuously[25][26][27][28] since the founding of St. Augustine by the Spanish in 1565. After Native Americans, Hispanics are the oldest ethnic group to inhabit much of what is today the United States. Many have Native American ancestry.[29][30][31][32] Spain colonized large areas of what is today the American Southwest and West Coast, as well as Florida. Its holdings included present-day California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas, all of which were part of the Republic of Mexico from its independence in 1821 until the end of the Mexican–American War in 1848. Conversely, Hispanic immigrants to the New York City metropolitan area derive from a broad spectrum of Latin American states.[2]

A study published in 2015 in the American Journal of Human Genetics, based on 23andMe data from 8,663 self-described Latinos, estimated that Latinos in the United States carried a mean of 65.1% European ancestry, 18.0% Native American ancestry, and 6.2% African ancestry. The study found that self-described Latinos from the Southwest, especially those along the Mexican border, had the highest mean levels of Native American ancestry, while self-described Latinos from the South, Midwest, and Atlantic Coast had the highest mean levels of African ancestry.[33]