Latinos in Central Florida: The Growing Hispanic Presence in the Sunshine State

Dear Friends,

Florida’s connections to the Hispanic world are deep, dating back centuries before the founding of the United States. The peninsula has long been home to waves of immigrants and exiles from Spain and Latin America. Not surprisingly, today Florida is home to the third largest Latino population in the country. Nearly 5 million Latinos call the Sunshine State home, and their numbers are growing.

Florida’s Latino population is also growing more diverse. In the second half of the twentieth century, areas such as Miami and Hialeah in South Florida became home to hundreds of thousands of Cuban exiles and migrants. Later, other Latin Americans began arriving in the state, including Nicaraguans, Colombians, Argentinians and Venezuelans. More recently, the migration of hundreds of thousands of Latinos from Puerto Rico to Central Florida is reshaping the contours of Latino life in the state, creating the most important demographic development since the arrival of Cubans in the 1960s.

Researchers have only recently turned their attention to these new arrivals and their impact on Central Florida. This report builds on their findings and supplements it with data on consumers provided by our partners at Nielsen. We are hopeful that it provides government officials, non-profits, the business sector and philanthropic leaders with the information they need in order to attend to this young and growing population.

We would be remiss to not mention the heartbreaking events in Orlando this past June, where 49 individuals were killed in one of the worst massacres in recent U.S. history. Yet this tragedy only highlights the changed demographic reality we describe in these pages, as the victims were mostly Latino and Latina LGBTQ individuals from Puerto Rico. The Hispanic Federation, as a service provider and capacity-builder with strong ties with the LGBTQ and larger Puerto Rican communities, is assisting this underserved population from our offices in Orlando right now.

We hope that you find this report useful, and invite you to work with us as we support and empower this growing and dynamic community. In doing so, we can ensure a brighter future for everyone in the Sunshine State.

José Calderón

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