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"Hispanic" is one of several terms used to describe residents of the United States who are of Spanish or Latin American background, regardless of race. It is used to identify a wide range of ethnicities, races, cultures, and nationalities who use Spanish as a primary language, plus their descendants. Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the country, comprising 13.4% of the population, about 40 million people in summer, 2003. The Hispanic population grows at about 4% per year, much faster than other ethnic groups in the United States.

Some people consider Hispanic to be too general as a label, and some consider it offensive, often preferring instead to use the self-chosen term "Latino", although this term generally does not include those people with immediate ancestors from Spain.

The term Hispanic is believed to have come into mainstream prominence following its inclusion in a question in the 1980 U.S. Census, which asked people to voluntarily identify if they were of "Spanish/Hispanic origin or descent". The Philippine[?] people are not included as hispanics, but asiatics.

Aside from Latino, other terms are used for more specific subsets of the Hispanic population. These terms often relate to specific countries of origin, such as "Mexican American", "Spanish", "Cuban" or "Puerto Rican". "Mexican" is highly pejorative in some parts of the Southwest (e.g. Santa Fe, New Mexico), but not in others (the Rio Grande Valley of Texas).

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