National Hispanic Heritage Month 2012: Celebrated Sept. 15 — Oct. 15

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2012: Celebrated Sept. 15 — Oct. 15

In September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, which was observed during the week that included Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. The observance was expanded in 1988 by Congress to a monthlong celebration (Sept. 15 — Oct. 15), effective the following year. America celebrates the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

The following will enlighten you a little bit about each of the above mentioned countries.

Costa Rica – is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

Costa Rica, which means “Rich Coast”, constitutionally abolished its army permanently in 1949. It is the only Latin American country included in the list of the world’s 22 older democracies. Costa Rica has consistently been among the top Latin American countries in the Human Development Index (HDI), ranked 69th in the world in 2011.

Costa Rica was cited by the UNDP in 2010 as one of the countries that have attained much higher human development than other countries at the same income levels, and in 2011 was highlighted by UNDP for being a good performer on environmental sustainability, and better record on human development and inequality than the median of their region. It was also the only country to meet all five criteria established to measure environmental sustainability. The country is ranked fifth in the world, and first among the Americas, in terms of the 2012 Environmental Performance Index.

In 2007, the Costa Rican government announced plans for Costa Rica to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021. The New Economics Foundation (NEF) ranked Costa Rica first in its 2009 Happy Planet Index, and once again in 2012. The NEF also ranked Costa Rica in 2009 as the “greenest” country in the world.

Because Costa Rica is located between 8 and 12 degrees north of the Equator, the climate is tropical year round. However, the country has many microclimates depending on elevation, rainfall, topography, and by the geography of each particular region.

Costa Rica’s seasons are defined by how much rain falls during a particular period and not to the four seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. The year can be split into two periods, the dry season known to the residents as summer, and the rainy season, known locally as winter. The “summer” or dry season goes from December to April, and “winter” or rainy season goes from May to November, which almost coincides with the Atlantic hurricane season, and during this time, it rains constantly in some regions.

The location receiving the most rain is the Caribbean slopes of the Central Cordillera mountains, with an annual rainfall of over 5,000 mm (196.9 in). Humidity is also higher on the Caribbean side than on the Pacific side. The mean annual temperature on the coastal lowlands is around 27 °C (81 °F), 20 °C (68 °F) in the main populated areas of the Central Cordilera, and below 10 °C (50 °F) on the summits of the highest mountains.

 

El Salvador – (Spanish: República de El Salvador, literally ‘Republic of The Savior’) is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country’s capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country as well as Central America. El Salvador borders the Pacific Ocean on the south, and the countries of Guatemala to the west and Honduras to the north and east. Its easternmost region lies on the coast of the Gulf of Fonseca, opposite Nicaragua. As of 2009, El Salvador had a population of approximately 5,744,113 people, composed predominantly of Mestizos.

The colón was the official currency of El Salvador from 1892 to 2001, when it adopted the U.S. Dollar.

In 2010 El Salvador ranked in the top 10 among Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index and in the top 3 in Central America (behind Costa Rica and Panama), due in part to ongoing rapid industrialization. In addition, tropical forests and overall forest cover has expanded by nearly 20% from the year 1992 to 2010, making it one of the few countries experiencing reforestation.

 

Guatemala – officially the Republic of Guatemala (Spanish: República de Guatemala [reˈpuβlika ðe ɣwateˈmala]), is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast. Its area is 108,890 km2 (42,043 mi2) with an estimated population of 13,276,517.

A representative democracy, its capital is Guatemala de la Asunción, also known as Guatemala City. Guatemala’s abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contributes to Mesoamerica’s designation as a biodiversity hotspot. The former Mayan civilization was a Mesoamerican civilization, which continued throughout the Post-Classic period until the arrival of the Spanish. The Mayas live in Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, the southern part of Mexico and northern parts of El Salvador.

Guatemala became independent from Spain in 1821. After it became an independent country in its own right, it was ruled by a series of dictators, assisted by the United Fruit Company. The late 20th century saw Guatemala embroiled in a 36-year-long civil war. Following the war, Guatemala has witnessed both economic growth and successful democratic elections. In the most recent election, held in 2011, Otto Pérez Molina of the Patriotic Party won the presidency.

 

Honduras – is a republic in Central America. It was at times referred to as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize. The country is bordered to the west by Guatemala, to the southwest by El Salvador, to the southeast by Nicaragua, to the south by the Pacific Ocean at the Gulf of Fonseca, and to the north by the Gulf of Honduras, a large inlet of the Caribbean Sea.

Honduras was home to several important indigenous cultures, most notably the Maya. Much of the country was conquered by Spain which introduced its now predominant language and many of its customs in the sixteenth century. It became independent in 1821 and has been a republic since the end of Spanish rule.

The area of Honduras is about 112,492 km² and the population exceeds eight million. Its northern portions are part of the Western Caribbean Zone. Honduras is most notable for production of minerals, coffee, tropical fruit, sugar cane and recently for export of clothing in the international market.

 

Nicaragua – officially the Republic of Nicaragua (Spanish: República de Nicaragua [reˈpuβlika ðe nikaˈɾaɣwa] ( listen)), is the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. The country’s physical geography divides it into three major zones: Pacific lowlands; wet, cooler central highlands; and the Caribbean lowlands. On the Pacific side of the country are the two largest fresh water lakes in Central America—Lake Managua and Lake Nicaragua. Surrounding these lakes and extending to their northwest along the rift valley of the Gulf of Fonseca are fertile lowland plains, with soil highly enriched by ash from nearby volcanoes of the central highlands. Nicaragua’s abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contribute to Mesoamerica’s designation as a biodiversity hotspot.

The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century. Nicaragua achieved its independence from Spain in 1821. Since its independence, Nicaragua has undergone periods of political unrest, dictatorship, and fiscal crisis—the most notable causes that led to the Nicaraguan Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Prior to the revolution, Nicaragua was one of Central America’s wealthiest and most developed countries.[citation needed] The revolutionary conflict, paired with a 1972 earthquake, reversed the country’s prior economic standing. Nicaragua is a representative democratic republic, and has experienced economic growth and political stability in recent years. In 1990, Nicaragua elected Violeta Chamorro as its president, making it the first country in Central American history and the second in the Western Hemisphere to democratically elect a female head of state.

The population of Nicaragua, approximately 6 million, is multiethnic. Roughly a quarter of the population lives in the capital city, Managua; it is the third-largest city in Central America. Segments of the population include indigenous native tribes from the Mosquito Coast, Europeans, Africans, Asians, and people of Middle Eastern origin. The main language is Spanish, although native tribes on the eastern coast speak their native languages, such as Miskito, Sumo, and Rama, as well as English Creole. The mixture of cultural traditions has generated substantial diversity in art and literature, particularly the latter given the various literary contributions of Nicaraguan writers, including Rubén Darío, Ernesto Cardenal, and Gioconda Belli. The biological diversity, warm tropical climate, and active volcanoes make Nicaragua an increasingly popular tourist destination.

 
Hispanophone (Spanish: hispanohablantes, hispanoparlantes or hispanofonía) or Hispanosphere denotes Spanish language speakers and the Spanish-speaking world. The word derives from the Latin political name of the Iberian Peninsula, Hispania, which comprised basically the territory of the modern states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra.

Hispanophones are estimated at between 450 and 500 million globally, making Spanish the second most spoken language in terms of native speakers. Around 360 million live in Hispanic America and 40 million in Spain. There are a large number of Spanish speakers in the United States, comprising more than 34 million. There are also smaller Hispanophone groups in Canada, northern Morocco, Equatorial Guinea, Western Sahara the Philippines and Brazil as well as in many other places around the world, particularly large cities in Western Europe, and Australia.

In a cultural, rather than merely linguistic sense, the notion of “Hispanophone” goes further than the above definition. The Hispanic culture is the legacy of the Spanish colonial empire, and so the term can refer to people whose cultural background is primarily associated with Spain, regardless of ethnic or geographical differences. In a cultural sense, the whole of Hispanophones are sometimes called the Hispanidad.
 
Miami International Mall will showcase the colorful flavors of Latin American countries during its 7th Annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration from September 30 through October 2. This free-to-the-public weekend event will feature folkloric music and dance, country exhibits, art and flag displays, live entertainment and a parade of native dresses from South America, Central America and the Caribbean countries.

Celebrate this month with Cheer, Heart and Style !!!
 

Facts for Features: Hispanic Heritage Month 2012

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