The Hispanic population of the United States is not monolithic. The people who can be classified as Hispanic Americans come from a variety of national backgrounds and belong to various ethnicities. The general factor common to all Hispanic Americans is that they have origins in Spanish speaking countries and for many of them; Spanish is the language they’re most fluent in.
Hispanic Americans also generally belong to the Roman Catholic Church, in contrast to the majority in the United States who belong to one of the Protestant churches. Hispanics are generally also darker skinned and have a different set of racial features than the White majority, this however varies from Hispanic sub-group to sub-group. Hispanics of Iberian ancestry or ‘White Hispanics’ look more like Anglos than Hispanics of Mestizo (mixed-Spanish/Indian) ancestry. These three common characteristics of the Hispanic Americans set them apart from the White majority in the country and are often used as justifications for discrimination against Hispanic Americans.
The Spanish were the first European country to colonize the Americas. In the region constituting the present day United States of America, the first European colony was that of St. Augustine in present day state of Florida formed in 1565. In contrast, the first colony established by English speaking Europeans was the short lived Roanoke Colony, formed in 1585 in the present day state of North Carolina. Thus Spanish language speaking people have a long history in the United States, one that is even longer than that of the English-speaking people.
However despite this the Spanish-speaking population of the United States has had to endure years of government supported discrimination at the hands of the English-speaking majority.
One historic incident that contributed greatly to an increase in the number of Hispanics in the United States is the end of the Mexican American War with the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
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