Over the past 30 years, the Hispanic population has exhibited tremendous growth in the United States. Hispanics comprise about 11% of the U.S. population, including 3.6 million residing in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Approximately 31 million individuals are identified as Hispanics. The U.S. Hispanic population is projected to become the largest minority group by the year 2006. Seventy percent of the Hispanic population is concentrated in four states - California, Texas, New York, and Florida. Mexican is the largest ethnic subdivision of Hispanics in the United States, comprising about 63.3%, followed by Central and South American (14.4%), Puerto Rican (10.6%), Cuban (4.2%), and other Hispanics (7.4%).
Hispanic is a term created by the U.S. federal government in the early 1970s in an attempt to provide a common denominator to a large, but diverse, population with connection to the Spanish language or culture from a Spanish-speaking country. The term Latino is increasingly gaining acceptance among Hispanics, and the term reflects the origin of the population in Latin America.
Traditionally, the Hispanic family is a close-knit group and the most important social unit. The term familia usually goes beyond the nuclear family. The Hispanic "family unit" includes not only parents and children but also extended family. In most Hispanic families, the father is the head of the family, and the mother is responsible for the home. Individuals within a family have a moral responsibility to aid other members of the family experiencing financial problems, unemployment, poor health conditions, and other life issues.
Family ties are very strong: when someone travels to another town or city to study or for a short visit (e.g., vacation, business, medical reasons), staying with relatives or even with friends of relatives is a common practice. Families often gather together to celebrate holidays, birthdays, baptisms, first communions, graduations, and...