Concepts of Hispanic Heritage Month

Writer: Naomi Martínez Ramón

Editor: Adelyne Koe

Graphic Designer and Artist: Betty Zeng


On Hispanic Heritage Month, many people tend to confuse the concepts that encompass the people who inhabit this region of America.


One of the less-known concepts, even among Spanish speakers, is "Ibero-América". “Iberia” is a term used by the Greeks to refer to what is now the Iberian Peninsula, the mountainous region between Spain and Portugal. That is why the term “Ibero-America” includes all American countries in which Spanish or Portuguese is spoken. As the term is a matter of language, an Iberian would therefore be a citizen of any American country in which Spanish or Portuguese is spoken.


Unlike the Iberian term, the South American term is of geographical matter; it encompasses all citizens of South American countries, from Venezuela to Argentina. All citizens of South America, regardless of the language they speak, are South American.

Another known concept is the concept of being “Latin American”. The term "Latin America" was first used in France in the mid-19th century. At this time, the Spanish empire was in decline, and for this reason (according to several historians), “Latin America” is a term born to displace the term Hispano-America, and thus downplay the Spanish footprints in the area. The countries that make up Latin America are the countries of the American continent, in which languages derived from Latin are spoken, those being French, Spanish and Portuguese. For this reason, we are not only including Spanish-speaking countries, but also including Brazil or French Guiana, for example.


The term “Hispanic” only applies to citizens of countries where Spanish is spoken, including Spain. Within the definition, countries such as Puerto Rico or Belize that have Spanish as a co-official language along with English are not excluded. Nevertheless we must make a difference between Hispanic and “Hispanoamérica”, which refers to countries that speak Spanish, and are also located in the American continent. Therefore, neither Spain nor Brazil belong to Latin America.


It is important that we know these differences in order to have a broad geographical and linguistic knowledge of this region of the world.


 

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