Why are Hispanics in the United States called “Hispanic Americans” but not “Spanish Americans”?

Many Hispanics informally call themselves “Spanish,” but the term can lead to confusion.

Strictly speaking, a Spanish American person is an American whose family comes from Spain. While some Hispanic Americans can claim a direct link to that European nation, most descend from one of the lands in the Americas settled by Spain.

Today, most of these lands are part of Latin America, which includes such countries as Mexico in North America, El Salvador in Central America, Cuba in the West Indies, and Colombia in South America.

Because Spain settled these regions long before the English founded their thirteen American colonies, the history of Latin America stretches back further than that of the United States.