The Top 100 Hispanics in History

What is a Hispanic? It is a term rarely heard outside of the United States, where the word is sometimes used to classify (wrongly) a group of people as a separate race. The modern term, which is sometimes interchangeable with "Latino," first appeared in the 70's, when the U.S. Census Bureau discovered that Americans of Mexican ancestry (most of which live in the Southwest and West Coast states) were reluctant to fill in "white" as a race (and rightly so, since most Mexican-Americans are racially a mixture of Native American blood and Caucasian blood from the many Europeans who settled in Mexico). In a typical burocratic way, many new "new" racial classifications were created, which allowed people to "choose" as a race, what is rightly a cultural or ethnic groupings. Thus genetic blondes from Argentina who may be ethnic Germans by bloodlines, and blue-eyed Gallegs from Galicia, and blacks from Santo Domingo or Panama and Japanese from Peru are all bundled together as "Hispanics."

Regardless of this cultural mess, I definine Hispanic culture (and thus Hispanics) as the people and nations which were created by the projection of Spain onto the New World. It includes the vastness of Spain, herself made up of many different ancient nations and different ethnic and cultural groups, but does not include Portugal nor the many New World nations which owe their cultural beginnnings to Britain, France, Holland or any other European colonial power. As one of the world's largest "Hispanic" countries (based on population) it does include Americans of Hispanic ancestry.

Picking the Top 100 of any cultural group, especially one as rich and diverse as Hispanics are, is a task full of controversy and many opinions.There are famous and infamous heroes, liberators, dictators, artists, writers and even a guerrilla or two. I have included people who were born in Spain before there was a Spain, but excluded Native Americans before there was a Spanish footprint in the New World. I have also included mythical figures, because a culture is defined not just by those whom we know truly existed, but also those whose legends influenced our earliest thoughts. I welcome your feedback, and look forward to compiling a "Visitors" top 100. Enjoy the pages!

1. Isabel, Queen of Spain

2. Simon Bolivar, Liberator of South America

3. Miguel Cervantes y Saavedra, Writer and Father of the Modern Novel