- (Photo: Reuters)
Hispanics have emerged as the largest ethnic group in the United States in recent years, and the presence of the Latino community has become evident in the overall landscape of the country's population as well as in college enrollments and in their involvement within the business and political sector.
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of Hispanics who originate from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
In honor of the celebratory month, the following is a list of key Hispanic facts by the numbers.
1. The Latino population in the U.S. grew 47.5 percent between 2000 and 2011 and now 52 million Hispanics currently live in the country, which accounts for one in six Americans, according to a 2011 Census Bureau study.
2. Population projections indicate that by 2050, the Latino population will total about 132.8 million people, or 30 percent of the total population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
3. Latinos are a major force in the small business sector, with 3.1 million Latino-owned businesses currently in the country, according to a study by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
4. The percentage of Hispanics who trace their origins to Mexico account for 64.6 percent of the 52 million U.S. Latino population. Puerto Ricans, the nation's second-largest Hispanic-origin group, make up 9.5 percent and Salvadorians, considered the third largest group, account for 3.8 percent, according to Pew Research Center.
5. According to the Department of Defense, Latinos make up 11.4 percent of active-duty military personnel.
6. More than half (55 percent) of the Hispanic population resides in three states: California, Texas and Florida. California alone has the nation's largest Latino population, with about 14.4 million Hispanics.
7. The Census Bureau reports that 49 percent of young Hispanic high-school graduates were enrolled in college in 2012, which surpassed the rate for white (47 percent) and African-American (45 percent) high-school graduates.
8. Last year, the number of Latinos enrolled in college or grad school was 3.4 million. Between 2011 and 2012, there were half a million fewer students enrolled in colleges nationwide, however, the number of Latinos enrolled in college over the same time period increased by 447,000.
9. Spanish is the most spoken non-English language in the U.S.; a record of 37.6 million people age 5 and older speak Spanish at home, according to the Pew Research Center.
10. Half (51 percent) of Hispanics prefer use their family's country of origin to describe their identity, while 24 percent favor the term "Hispanic" or "Latino" to most often describe their identity, reports the Pew Hispanic Center.