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On September 15, 1968, the United States first celebrated Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1988, the celebration was expanded to a month. The dates were chosen to honor the independence movement in several Latin American nations—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua celebrate their independence on September 15; Mexico on September 16; and Chile on September 18.
 
Hispanic Heritage Month honors the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. Hispanic and Latino Americans can have European, African, Asian, and indigenous ancestry. The distinction between Hispanic and Latino is often misunderstood. People with Hispanic origins trace their ancestry to Spanish-speaking countries, such as Mexico or Spain. Latinos trace their ancestry to Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking Latin American countries, such as Brazil.
 
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hispanic and Latino groups with the largest populations in the United States are Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban. 
ancestry
Noun

family (genealogical) or historical background.

celebrate
Verb

to observe or mark an important event with public and private ceremonies or festivities.

contribute
Verb

to give or donate.

culture
Noun

learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

distinction
Noun

difference.

expand
Verb

to grow or get larger.

heritage
Noun

cultural or family background.

Hispanic
Adjective

having to do with people and culture tracing their ancestry to Spanish-speaking nations in Latin America.

honor
Verb

to highly respect or recognize as superior.

independence
Noun

state or situation of being free.

Adjective

characteristic to or of a specific place.

Latin America
Noun

South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

Latino
Noun

having to do with people and culture who trace their ancestry to Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking nations of Latin America.

Noun

count of everyone in the U.S., conducted every 10 years.