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Demographics of the U.S. Latino Populations

An estimated 32.4 million Latinos live in the United States.

Latinos comprise 11.8 percent of the total population, up from 9.0 percent in 1990. (These totals do not include persons living in Puerto Rico, estimated at 3.9 million as of 1999.)

The Latino population in the United States has grown 38% since 1990 (an increase of 10.1 million people), while the overall population has grown just 9%. According to projections, the Latino population will triple from 31.4 million in 1999 to 98.2 million in 2050. Under this scenario, the percentage of Latinos in the total population will rise from 12 percent to 24 percent over the period, and by 2005 they would become the nation's largest minority group.

The nation's resident Latino population is young, with an estimated median age of 26.6 years, whereas the median age of the general population is 35.8 years.

52% of Latino households have children under the age of eighteen, compared to only 33% of non-Latino households.

As of 1998, the United States had 20.2 million Spanish-speaking adults age 18 and over, 10 percent of the total adult population.

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of the nation's Latinos in 1999 were of Mexican origin. People of Puerto Rican origin accounted for 10 percent of the total Latino population, while people of Cuban origin accounted for 4 percent, people of Central and South American origin were 14 percent, and other Latinos accounted for 7 percent.

As of July 1, 1999, according to population estimates: The Latino population of seven states totaled at least 1 million each: California (10.5 million), Texas (6.0 million), New York (2.7 million), Florida (2.3 million), Illinois (1.3 million), Arizona (1.1 million) and New Jersey (1.0 million). Combined, California and Texas were home to more than half of the nation's Latinos.

The states with the highest concentration of Latinos were New Mexico (where Latinos constituted 41 percent of the total population), California (32 percent), Texas (30 percent), Arizona (23 percent), Nevada (17 percent) and Florida, Colorado and New York (15 percent each).

There were six states where the Latino population more than doubled: Arkansas (where it increased by 170 percent), Nevada (145 percent), North Carolina (129 percent), Georgia (120 percent), Nebraska (108 percent) and Tennessee (105 percent).

The Latino population in the United States is a complex group. On the one hand, Latino communities share certain traits and hold in common certain basic cultural values, and on the other hand they are very diverse, with the degree of acculturation and traditions varying noticeably among the subgroups. Some Latinos have adapted to the majority culture, adopting its language, customs, and values, while others still live in ethnically monolithic communities whose values and norms closely resemble those of their country of origin.


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