People originating in Latin America have lived in the United States for hundreds of years. At first, they were a relatively small group, but through immigration and over time their numbers have increased greatly. As a consequence, Latinos now constitute one fifth of the total U.S. population, with their presence being most heavily felt in border regions with Mexico and in cities such as Los Angeles and Miami, where they are the majority or are close to becoming the majority.
Fast food outlets
With some 20 % of the U.S. population being of Latin American descent, Latinos have a significant impact on the development of American culture and on the United States’ physical landscape. This, for example, manifests itself in rising viewership of Spanish-speaking TV stations, increasing numbers of Latin American fast food outlets and a growing popularity of the Catholic Church.
In the personal sphere, though Latinos are far from a homogeneous group, Americans of Latin American descent tend to be more family-oriented and have more differentiated gender roles than Anglo-Americans. There is, moreover, some machismo in the Latino community and the controlling of women’s social interactions and sexuality occurs on some occasions. However, regardless of how wide the gender barrier is, some of the most noticeable traits of both Latino men and Latino women are warmth, passion and heated discussions.
The culturally conditioned behavior of Latinos in the United States, such as the passion and the heated discussions, obviously, will be affected by individual differences and by how much Latinos have integrated with Americans of other backgrounds. Some Latinos, quite as one would expect, behave and speak like Americans in general, and not seldom live in mixed neighborhoods and socialize with people of other races and ethnicities daily. Other Latinos, on the opposite end of the spectrum, live in almost exclusively Latino neighborhoods and have limited contact with multiracial America. The segregated Latinos then, as a natural consequence, tend to behave much more like people in Latin America, and speak fluent or broken English with a marked Spanish accent.
The various types of integrated and segregated Latinos, though as mentioned individually different from each other and adjusting to life in America to varying degrees, quite interestingly, still tend to overlap in certain areas. For instance, Latino elders born south of the border, regardless of the amount of time they have spent in the U.S., often prefer speaking Spanish; Latino women, wherever they live, generally are hard-pressed to give up their Latin American soap operas; and the younger generation of Latinos, no matter how integrated they are, usually stay loyal to salsa and reggaeton.