We chose to make Hispanic America our home after we packed it all up. Very frequently, the reaction we get is an exclamation of “Where?” or “What?” So, it is time to explain Hispanic America according to Travel Hippi.
There are a number of phrases in use to describe the region. These include Hispanic America, Spanish America and Latin America. Furthermore, we refer to the people of the region as Hispanic and Latino.
So which of the descriptors are correct? This article will explore all of the different phrases and shed light on Hispanic America according to Travel Hippi.
Hispanic or Latino?
The first thing to know about the two terms is that they do not refer to race or colour. A Hispanic or Latino/a person can be of any race or colour.
The term Hispanic (Spanish: Hispano or Hispánico ) is a demonym that refers to the people and nations that have a historical link to the Spanish language or the country of Spain, depending on the context. It commonly applies to countries once under colonial rule by the Spanish Empire following the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
The term Latino, on the other hand, is a broader reference. It refers to people with a cultural connection to Latin America. The term is often used in the United States, very infrequently elsewhere.
The term Latino could be understood as shorthand for Latin America (Spanish: latinoamericano ), and therefore excludes speakers of Spanish or Portuguese from Europe.
Encyclopaedia Britannica has an interesting example of the use of these two terms: “…a Brazilian could be Latino and non-Hispanic, a Spaniard could be Hispanic and non-Latino, and a Colombian could use both terms.”
One should keep in mind that there are indigenous groups in Spanish-speaking countries, who do not identify with Spanish culture and do not speak Spanish.
Hispanic America defined
Hispanic America (Spanish: Hispanoamérica, or América Hispana ), also known as Spanish America (Spanish: América española ), is the region that includes all the Spanish-speaking nations in the Americas.
It contrasts with Latin America, which includes not only the Spanish-speaking countries but also Brazil and French Guiana.
Hispanic America in numbers
Hispanic America is a vast region. Spanning two continents, it is more 11,5 million square kilometres in size, with a total population of about 416 million.
An interesting observation is the population density compared to the most populated country in the world, China – although it is 20% larger than China, it only has 29% of the population!
The northernmost country is Mexico, in North America, while the southernmost country is Argentina, in South America.
The distance between the northernmost point, which is near Los Algodones in the US, and the southernmost point, Ushuaia in Argentina, is approximately 10,700km.
Hispanic American countries
The region represents 19 countries. In a roughly north to south direction, these are:
- Dominican Republic
- Puerto Rico
- El Salvador
- Costa Rica
First, we excluded the islands
In order to arrive at Hispanic America according to Travel Hippi, we started by excluding the three island nations, namely Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
That left us with 16 countries to work with.
The next step was to exclude those countries that we consider unsafe or unstable.
At the outset of this section, I need to clarify that the decision to consider a country unsafe or unstable, for the purpose of the Travel Hippi website, is a personal opinion. Although we based our opinion on research and a boatload of reading, it includes personal choice and bias.
A publication that contains valuable and in-depth information is the 2018 Global Peace Index. It is a product of the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) and its value lies in the fact that a wide range of indicators (22 in all) are measured.
I will include the index ranking for each of the excluded countries in the discussion below.
Another insightful publication comes from InSight Crime, a foundation that studies the principal threat to national and citizen security in Latin America. The most recent homicide statistics for Latin America and the Caribbean make for interesting reading.
Honduras (Spanish: República de Honduras ), a country with a population of roughly ten million people, and 1,5 times the size of Panama is ranked at 118 out of 163 countries in the Global Peace Index.
In terms of its homicide rate, the graphic above shows Honduras in the third bracket (40 – 50 homicides per 100,000 people).
El Salvador (Spanish: República de El Salvador ), with a population estimated at seven million people, and only 0,3 times the size of Panama, is ranked at 116 out of 163 countries in the Global Peace Index.
Its homicide rate puts it in the second bracket (50 – 60 homicides per 100,000 people).
Nicaragua (Spanish: República de Nicaragua ), populated by an estimated seven million people and 1,7 times the size of Panama, ranks at 68 out of 163 countries according to the Global Peace Index.
Unfortunately, the graphic above does not include Nicaragua, but other sources indicate that the homicide rate is actually relatively low. The robbery rate, however, seems to be relatively high.
Venezuela, (Spanish: República Bolivariana de Venezuela ), makes the news headlines on a daily basis and whatever statistics are available at the time of writing this article, are probably understating the problem. The country of thirty-two million people and 12,2 times the size of Panama ranks at 143 out of 168 countries according to the Global Peace Index. This is the worse ranking of the four countries we consider as unsafe.
As for its homicide rate, the graphic above places it in the first bracket, at more than 60 homicides per 100,000 people.
For a geographic perspective, the map below shows the four countries that are excluded from Hispanic America according to Travel Hippi.
That left us with 12 countries to work with.
Travel Hippi’s selection of six
The final selection criteria included the ease of process and cost to acquire residency, as well as a healthy portion of personal preference.
Panama (Spanish: República de Panamá) has been our home since early 2017. We acquired permanent residency through the Friendly Nations Visa and have our cédulas.
The country has very attractive residency visas, including the Pensionado Visa, which is extremely popular amongst Americans and Canadians. A number of visa options can lead to citizenship.
Colombia (Spanish: República de Colombia) , the second most biodiverse country in the world, is known for its rich coffee, its emeralds, natural beauty and the myth of El Dorado. Regrettably, it is also remembered for narcotics kingpin Pablo Escobar.
It is relatively easy to obtain permanent residency in Colombia, which will give you the right to live and work there for life. Colombia allows dual citizenship which can be applied for after five years.
It is also known for the Galapagos Islands and its Panama hats – yes, that is where the famous Panama hat comes from!
Ecuador has a number of visa options for permanent residency, although the process differs significantly from those in Panama and Colombia. During the initial two years of residency, you have to live in Ecuador for at least 180 days per year.
It has stunning climate options, not to mention food and cultural experience options. The cost of living is also favourable.
Peru is one of the easiest countries to get a retirement visa, which is good for life. After three years, you can apply for permanent residency or citizenship. Dual citizenship is recognised.
Chile (Spanish: República de Chile) is famous for its red wines (although the original vines were from Spain) as well as its beer. But it is probably the driest desert on earth, the Atacama Desert, for which Chile is most famous.
There are a number of ways to obtain residency in Chile, all of them very straightforward. After five years of residency, you can apply for naturalization and obtain a Chilean Passport.
Residency in Argentina is relatively simple and seems to work in two-year cycles. In order to apply for permanent residency, the applicant must have been a temporary resident for at least two years. Then, after two years of permanent residency, you can apply for citizenship. Dual citizenship is recognised.
And that, damas y caballeros, is Hispanic America according to Travel Hippi.
The phrase Hispanic America is not the common way to refer to the region. Most people would use the phrase Spanish America instead. However, when you are constantly busy with research, the latter creates unnecessary hassles with search engines. Hence our preference for using Hispanic America.
A little-known fact about Hispanic America
It has its own flag!
The Flag of the Hispanicity (Spanish: Bandera de la Hispanidad ) is sometimes used to represent the Hispanic people or Hispanic community.
The flag displays a white background with three purple crosses and a rising sun:
- The white symbolizes peace;
- The golden Inti sun symbolizes the awakening of the new lands;
- The three crosses pattée symbolize Christopher Columbus’s three ships, the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa María;
- The purple signifies the Spanish language.
The flag was first raised in Montevideo, Uruguay, on 12 October 1932.
“I am trying to make my accent so it won’t bother anyone, but I am not going to drive myself crazy trying to pretend I am an American girl when I am from Colombia” – Shakira
I would love to have your thoughts on Hispanic America and the countries we have chosen to feature.
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