The Latino population in the United States is over 60 million, making up 18.9% of the total population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As the largest ethnic minority, the Latino community is an integral part of the identity of the United States. Latinas and Latinos are athletes, entrepreneurs, scientists, public servants, and more, and have made significant cultural contributions. From introducing new forms of music and dance to leading Fortune 500 companies, members of the Latino community have been drivers of change and innovation.
Diverse Cultural Influence
Layered with factors like region, generation, heritage, race, and gender, the identities of Latinas and Latinos across the United States are shaped by their unique experiences.
Learn about Somos, a short film that features the rich diversity of Latino experiences.
￼Latino ancestry is varied and often reflects the encounters between European, Indigenous, African and other peoples who were forced together as a result of Spanish and Portuguese colonization. Over many centuries, variations of customs, beliefs, traditions, and more within the Latino community have taken shape and contributed to the multicultural fabric of the United States.
The Latino identity is complex and extremely diverse, as shown by data that maps the United States Latino experience. For example, many Latinas and Latinos identify with multiple labels, such as Hispanic or Latino, American, and Afro-Latino or Afro-Caribbean. Diversity among the Latino community is continuing to increase; ￼￼65 percent of third or higher generation Latinos have a non-Latino parent or grandparent.
The diverse experiences of the Latino population have transformed their communities and greatly impacted many areas of ￼culture in the United States. From pioneering aspects of entertainment industries like music, dance, and sports to transforming the food and art industries, Latinas and Latinos have been influential in driving change and creativity. Many members of the Latino community have been trailblazers in helping to define culture in the United States, ￼including:
Throughout the history of the United States, Latinas and Latinos have faced voter suppression, intimidation at polls, and other tactics to limit political representation. Following many years of ￼fighting for equality and key legislation passed, such as the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act to update limited-English proficient language protections, the number of Latino voters has continued to rise. In 2016, 12.7 million Latinos voted, which was about 48 percent of eligible Latino voters. In 2020, a record number of Latinos were eligible to vote at nearly 30 million. For the first time, more than half of the Latino community members who were eligible to vote cast a ballot that year – about 16.5 million. ￼This rise in Latina and Latino voters has transformed the voting landscape in the United States, and in 2020 Latino voters became the second-largest voting bloc in the country.
The increase in the number of eligible Latino voters has come from specific Latino groups, like women and young people. Mexicans make up about 60 percent of eligible voters, and Puerto Ricans about 13 percent. Additionally, of the 54 percent of Latino voters who cast a ballot in 2020, women were more likely than men to vote. Half of the eligible Latina voters showed up to the polls, while only 45 percent of men eligible to vote cast a ballot.
While there have been great strides in Latino voting rights, there is still a need to ensure every vote counts. Civil rights and advocacy organizations continue to empower Latina and Latino voters and fight for their rights.