Hispanic Heritage Month 2005: September 15-October 15

US Census Bureau

In 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week. The observance was expanded in 1988 to a month-long celebration (Sept. 15-Oct. 15). During this month, America celebrates the culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

Population 41.3 million

The estimated Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2004, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest race or ethnic minority. Hispanics constitute 14 percent of the nation’s total population. (This estimate does not include the 3.9 million residents of Puerto Rico.)


The proportion of Hispanic-origin people who are of Mexican background. Another approximately 9 percent are of Puerto Rican background, with about 3 percent each of Cuban, Salvadoran and Dominican origins. The remainder are of either some other Central American, South American or other Hispanic or Latino origins.


The number of states with at least half a million Hispanic residents. These states are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Texas and Washington. Three more states — Massachusetts, Nevada and North Carolina — fall just short of this threshold.

Businesses1.6 million

The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002, up 31 percent from 1997. Their receipts were $226.5 billion, up 22 percent from 1997. A total of 199,725 such firms had paid employees, with receipts of $184 billion, or about $921,090 per firm.

Spanish Language 30 million

The number of U.S. residents age 5 and older who speak Spanish at home. Spanish speakers constitute a ratio of more than 1-in-10 U.S. household residents. Among all those who speak Spanish at home, more than one-half say they speak English “very well.”

Education 18%

Percentage of the nation’s elementary and high school students who are Hispanic, triple the proportion in 1970, when the crest of the baby-boom was enrolled at this level of school.


The percentage of Hispanics age 25 and older who had at least a high school education in 2004.


The percentage of the Hispanic population age 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2004.


Proportion of college students in 2003 who were Hispanic, up from 4 percent two decades earlier.

2.7 million

The number of Hispanics age 18 and older who had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2004. This was about double the number only a decade earlier (1.3 million).


Number of Hispanics 25 years and older with advanced degrees in 2004 (e.g., master’s, professional, doctorate).


The number of Hispanic physicians and surgeons. Latinos are represented in a wide variety of occupations. For instance, there are about 50,400 Hispanic postsecondary teachers; 53,400 chief executives of businesses; 38,100 lawyers; and 5,000 news analysts, reporters and correspondents. See Table 597, 2004-2005 edition, >.

The Latino Vote 7.6 million

The number of Hispanic citizens who reported voting in the 2004 presidential election, up from 5.9 million four years earlier. The percentage of Hispanic citizens voting — about 47 percent — did not change.

Serving our Country 1.1 million

The number of Latino veterans of the U.S. armed forces. About 53,000 Hispanic-origin people were on active duty in 2003 in the United States.