The nation's Latino population is diverse. Represented among the 51.9 million Latinos in the United States are individuals who trace their heritage to more than 20 Spanish-speaking nations worldwide. But one group----Mexicans----dominates the nation's Latino population.
Nearly two-thirds (64.6%) of U.S. Latinos, or 33.5 million, trace their family origins to Mexico, according to tabulations of the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS) by the Pew Research Center. By comparison, Puerto Ricans, the nation's second largest Latino origin group, number about 5 million and make up 9.5% of the total Latino population in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Following Mexicans and Puerto Ricans are Salvadorans, Cubans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, Colombians, Spaniards, Hondurans, Ecuadorians, Peruvians, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and Argentineans. Together these 14 groups make up 95% of the U.S. Latino population. Among them, six Latino origin groups have populations greater than 1 million.
Mexican origin Latinos have always been the largest Latino origin group in the U.S. Among the 155,000 Latinos living in the U.S. in 1860, 81% were of Mexican origin----a historic high. Since then the nation's Latino population has diversified as growing numbers of Latino immigrants from elsewhere settled in the U.S.
The nation's Latino-origin population differs in many other ways as well. For instance, U.S. Latinos of Mexican origin have the lowest median age, at 25 years, while Latinos of Cuban origin have the highest median age, at 40 years. Venezuelans are the most likely to have a college degree (51%) while Guatemalans and Salvadorans are among the least likely (7%). Argentineans have the highest annual median household income ($55,000) while Hondurans have the lowest ($31,000). Close to half (46%) of Hondurans and Guatemalans do not have health insurance while 15% of Puerto Ricans and Spaniards do not have health insurance. Further comparisons and rankings of the nation's largest Latino-origin groups are shown in the appendix of this report.
Latino origin is based on self-described family ancestry or place of birth in response to questions in the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. It is not necessarily the same as place of birth, nor is it indicative of immigrant or citizenship status. For example, a U.S. citizen born in Los Angeles of Mexican immigrant parents or grandparents may (or may not) identify his or her country of origin as Mexico. Likewise, some immigrants born in Mexico may identify another country as their origin depending on the place of birth of their ancestors.
The data for this report are derived from the 2011 American Community Survey, which provides detailed geographic, demographic and economic characteristics for each group.
Accompanying this report are profiles of the 14 largest Hispanic origin sub-groups including four new profiles for Argentineans, Nicaraguans, Spaniards and Venezuelans. Also accompanying this report is an interactive graphic showing characteristics and top counties for each group, an infographic showing the origins and nativity of Hispanics, and a FactTank blog post exploring differences in population estimates of the Salvadoran and Cuban populations.
The report, "Diverse Origins: The Nation's 14 Largest Hispanic Origin Groups," authored by Mark Hugo Lopez, Ana Gonzalez-Barrera and Danielle Cuddington, all of the Pew Hispanic Center, is available at the Pew Hispanic Center's website, http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001N4NJmHjC6gpjf5zNFlNb6gcX3LD49JwAeIzWqDIPGm-4ix4jvPxKGp0Wvz08eNdufnCAWOVvej8HZpnrrmv_2ExdodgKGg3iQZy79_2sBBIs-RHVSVEcp6rMU-ooz0ZG.
Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan source of data and analysis. It does not take advocacy positions. Its Hispanic Center, founded in 2001, seeks to improve understanding of the U.S. Hispanic population and to chronicle Latinos' growing impact on the nation.