Half The World Hispanic.

In a prior article I’d discovered that “I am Hispanic” at least according to the laws of the USA. There were some other folks surprised to find out they, too, would qualify. (Actually, anyone can qualify since all you must do is claim it to be it and “self identify” – but I wanted a ‘hook’ to hang things on.)

Well, one person was from The Netherlands and pointed out they had been part of the Spanish Empire (one of the qualifications) and so “were in”. Well, I’d thought the empire was large, but then didn’t think enough about just how large. Just another of those thoughts that goes off somewhere for a bit of a think until it comes back later. Sometimes much later.

Philippines… they were part of the Spanish Empire.
Spanish Sahara too.
And what about Florida?

So I went looking for a map of the Spanish Empire. Which shoved in my face a reminder that some Pope had divided the world into Spanish and Portuguese hemispheres. Half the world (and then some) being immediately made Hispanic.

From the wiki

The Complete Spanish Empire

You can open the image to make it really really big. Note that ALL of North America is in the Spanish Hemisphere and that the Pacific Ocean is also named “The Spanish Lake”. Every single pacific islander and even folks in Australia, you are all Hispanic. Who knew?

For Canada, it’s in the Spanish Hemisphere so technically all of it is “in”. But should someone wish to haggle over that, notice that the formal territories extended all the way up into what is now British Columbia. Australia is named “Australia del Espiritu Santo”:

Austrialia del Espíritu Santo

Austrialia of the Holy Spirit
Terra Australis o tierras del sur hasta el polo reclamadas para España por Pedro Fernández de QueirósTerra Australis or southern lands as far as the pole claimed for Spain by Pedro Fernández de Queirós

Note that all you Kiwi’s are Hispanic, too!

So just look over all that tan bit that’s the Spanish Empire. 1/2 a world is Hispanic, per the USA Federal Government.

But Wait! There’s more!

You will need to embiggen the map to see it, but Spain had a good chunk of Europe as well. Most of Italy. Sardinia. Sicily. (All you Sicilians, even you Mafia Made Men, you’re all entitled to Hispanic status and goodies in the minority hand outs queue!) But the big “kicker” looks like Germany!

Yes, all you Germans, feeling left out of the Hispanic Parade. Never Fear! You, too are Hispanic!

SACRO IMPERIO ROMANO y posesiones de los Habsburgo
HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE and Habsburg possesions
Unión personal con España bajo Carlos V
Personal union with Spain under Charles V

Seems that the entire Holy Roman Empire got sucked in under Charles V. So put down those Ompa Ompa horns, change out of the lederhosen for some Spanish Mariachi Pants, and head on down! You, too, are legally Hispanic!

Looks like that makes my Amish Grandma’s side of the family Hispanic, so I’ve got yet another claim. Descendant of a Hispanic.

You MIGHT think I’m done… but NOOoooo!

At this point, with the world 1/2 Spanish and 1/2 Portuguese (but with significant Spanish inclusions in the Portuguese side) you might thing we’re done and somewhere around 1/2+ to 2/3 of the world are legally Hispanic. But noooo… not just yet.

Hidden in a little patch of the map is something critical. What about that “Portuguese” half of the map? Check out the list of the Spanish Empire under that list in the upper right.

Virreinato de Portugal bajo la Casa de Austria (1580-1640)
Viceroyalty of Portugal under the Spanish Habsburgs (1580-1640)

So Portugal, as well, was part of the Spanish Empire. So doesn’t that mean all the parts of the world that are “Portugese” are also inducted as Hispanic? Both due to having historically been a part of Spain from 1580 to 1640, and as the US Law defines Hispanic as being either Spanish or Portuguese origin, extraction, etc. etc.

So with the OTHER 1/2 of the world being Portuguese Empire, I think the only reasonable conclusion is that any one, from any where, in the entire world, can claim to be “Hispanic”, as defined by the US Government.

No wonder they said folks are encouraged to “self identify” and no questions asked.

So, all you Muslims from North Africa, the Levant, and Arabia, Indonesia too: You are ALL legally Hispanics. If you are Black, you too are Hispanic! Call it a ‘two-fer’ and double dip those special claims.

All you folks from China, India, Sudan and South Africa: Step right up and get your Hispanic Privilege!

Hey, Democrats, don’t choke on this, and please sit down, but: ALL You RUSSIANS! Yeah, you, Ruskies!! You are Hispanic TOO! Skip the Vodka, grab yourself a sombrero and a bottle of Tequila, and head on down to the Sunny Desert. It’s your heritage, don’t you know.

Well, some of that last bit is maybe a little over the top. There is a latitude cut off on the Portuguese Hemisphere. Maybe. The Atlantic Ocean dividing line goes just South of the Canary Islands and then it looks like the southern Slavic nations and Scandinavia are grey.

England is clearly out, not agreeing to the Spanish Armada. (Then again, Her Majesty does trace ancestry back to both Germany & Spain so one could claim all Her subjects are Hispanic…) One would need to haggle over just what the actual cutoff might be.


In 1091 the Almoravids from Morocco invaded Muslim Spain, and his grandson Al-Mu’tamid ibn Abbad lost his throne. His daughter Zaida fled north and took refuge at the court of King Alfonso VI of Leon. She became his mistress – the king was already married, but his wife was bedridden with illness. Zaida later converted to Christianity, took the baptismal name Isabella and – once the king’s previous wife died – married him, bearing him three children that we know of.

In 1352 Maria de Padilla, a descendant of Zaida and Alfonso, became the mistress of King Peter ‘the Cruel’ of Castille. They had four children – two of the daughters married sons of King Edward III of England. It is from Isabella of Castille and Edmund, Duke of York that the current Queen of the UK is descended.

So a fair claim can be made that all of the United Kingdom is united under a monarch of Hispania, so Hispanic. Just sayin’… Which would give a double claim to many of the British Empire subjects under both a Hispanic derived Queen and as part of the Portuguese / Spanish treaties.

Clearly there are Spanish and Portuguese holdings north of those lines, so they do look “more like guidelines, actually” (Apologies to Pirates of The Caribbean fans ;-) and they were called “Hemispheres”. So some of you Siberians and Poles may need to “self identify”, but that’s acceptable too. Just say you like tacos and want a cerveza

In reality, the two treaties just set east / west bounds and a vague agreement that it (maybe, mostly) did not include Europe. I think that safely leaves Russia in the Spanish / Portuguese lands and Hispanic camp. Poland maybe not. (I’ll work on it ;-)


The Treaty of Tordesillas (Portuguese: Tratado de Tordesilhas [tɾɐˈtaðu ðɨ toɾðeˈziʎɐʃ], Spanish: Tratado de Tordesillas [tɾaˈtaðo ðe toɾðeˈsiʎas]), signed at Tordesillas on June 7, 1494, and authenticated at Setúbal, Portugal, divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between the Portuguese Empire and the Crown of Castile, along a meridian 370 leagues[note 1] west of the Cape Verde islands, off the west coast of Africa. This line of demarcation was about halfway between the Cape Verde islands (already Portuguese) and the islands entered by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage (claimed for Castile and León), named in the treaty as Cipangu and Antilia (Cuba and Hispaniola).

The lands to the east would belong to Portugal and the lands to the west to Castile.
The treaty was signed by Spain, 2 July 1494 and by Portugal, 5 September 1494. The other side of the world was divided a few decades later by the Treaty of Zaragoza, signed on 22 April 1529, which specified the antimeridian to the line of demarcation specified in the Treaty of Tordesillas. Originals of both treaties are kept at the Archivo General de Indias in Spain and at the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo in Portugal.



The Treaty of Zaragoza laid down that the eastern border between the two domain zones was 297.5 leagues (1,763 kilometres, 952 nautical miles)[note 5], or 17° east, of the Maluku Islands. The treaty included a safeguard clause which stated that the deal would be undone if at any time the emperor wished to revoke it, with the Portuguese being reimbursed the money they had to pay, and each nation “will have the right and the action as that is now.” That never happened however, because the emperor desperately needed the Portuguese money to finance the War of the League of Cognac against his arch-rival Francis I of France.

The treaty did not clarify or modify the line of demarcation established by the Treaty of Tordesillas, nor did it validate Spain’s claim to equal hemispheres (180° each), so the two lines divided the Earth into unequal portions. Portugal’s portion was roughly 191° of the Earth’s circumference, whereas Spain’s portion was roughly 169°. There was a ±4° margin of uncertainty as to the exact size of both portions, due to the variation of opinion about the precise location of the Tordesillas line.

Under the treaty, Portugal gained control of all lands and seas west of the line, including all of Asia and its neighbouring islands so far “discovered”, leaving Spain with most of the Pacific Ocean. Although the Philippines was not mentioned in the treaty, Spain implicitly relinquished any claim to it because it was well west of the line. Nevertheless, by 1542, King Charles V had decided to colonise the Philippines, assuming that Portugal would not protest too vigorously because the archipelago had no spices. Although he failed in his attempt, King Philip II succeeded in 1565, establishing the initial Spanish trading post at Manila. As his father had expected, there was little opposition from the Portuguese.

So Russia, being in Asia, looks to me to be fairly clearly “in” the Portuguese area, so “Hispanic”. Ditto China. (See Macau as evidence).

So it looks to me like the only folks really at risk of being “left out” of this whole Hispanic Special Needs category are the French, some eastern European Slavs, and folks up in Scandinavia. But I don’t know enough about the (millions?) of wars and invasions of Europe to know if they had ever been invaded and claimed by Spain.

If, at any time, they were a Spanish or Portuguese territory or claim, then you’re in. I’m comfortable with having done the heavy lifting of getting 90% or so of the surface of the globe clearly defined as “Hispanic”, so it’s up to you Frenchmen and Scandinavians and ex-Yugoslavians to work on the rest.

Just remember that if you are ever applying for a job, a scholarship, or government “minority” loans, being Hispanic is a Very Special Thing, so don’t deny your Hispanic Heritage. You deserve it! After all, a few hundred years ago a couple of guys agreed to draw lines on a map just to ‘give it to you’… It’s only fair you claim something for your pain…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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14 Responses to Half The World Hispanic.

  1. philjourdan says:

    Maybe I will start to claim it. But I kind of like my claim that I am simply “other” and if pressed for race, I put “human”.

  2. waterside4 says:

    Being from Galway whose most famous landmark is The Spanish Arch, do you think I might qualify?

  3. gary turner says:

    Ireland was invaded at least twice by Galicia (Northwestern Iberian peninsula) and Isabella of Columbus fame decreed that Irish merchant ships were her subjects and exempt from excise taxes and alien port fees. So I’d say yeah.

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    I covered Ireland in the original “I’m Irish, who knew?” posting. Founded by Mil de Espania and his palls, that means all of Ireland is “from Hispania” and therefore Hispanic.

    So yeah, You’re in!


    I like to put “Spotted”. A very rare minority, we are discriminated against in so many ways, and often not even recognized! Heck, you even have freckles described as a disease and “damaged skin”! I’m NOT Damaged! I’m Spotted!


    As for race: “No thanks, I’ll watch”…

  5. H.R. says:

    Howza ’bout “Sketchy”?

    For race: “Seabiscuit in the third, to win.”

  6. philjourdan says:

    @H.R. – I think you are better off with Justify for the win. At the Belmont. :-)

  7. jim2 says:

    So … I’m a Hispanic lesbian dyke trapped in a man’s body?

  8. Larry Ledwick says:

    I presume that “origin” is effectively place of birth. If that is the case, all of the US west of the Mississippi, was once the Spanish Empire so anyone born west of the Mississippi under current law would have direct claim by that definition.

    This page also shows the mixture of genetic traits of the Iberian tribes include a very broad spectrum, given it was one of the last areas settled by genetically modern humans.


    Modern humans are thought to have reached Iberia from France approximately 28,000 years ago.

    Sooo if you go back far enough there is a connection to the Franks and French genetic lines.

    During the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), which lasted approximately from 26,500 to 19,000 years ago, most of northern and central Europe was covered by ice sheets and was virtually uninhabitable for humans. Coastal Iberia, as well as Catalonia, Aragon and south-west France, were one of the temperate refugia for Cro-Magnons.

  9. Another Ian says:


    Don’t go giving the Argentinians ideas!

  10. Another Ian says:

    Though more of this wouldn’t go astray IMO

    Oath of allegience to kings of Castille (Spain)

    We who are as good as you, swear to you, who are no better than we, to accept you as our king and sovereign lord, provided you observe all our liberties and laws, but if not, not.

    J.H Elliot, “Imperial Spain”

  11. Steve C says:

    Given that you are also an inheritor of the quarter of the globe that was pink, through your English half, you must be pretty close to a one-man United Nations …

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    Yes, very true. The only genetic Italians are from that area around Rome that historically was Italy. North of them were Etruscans and north of them Celts. South were Greeks and a few others. “Italian” is now a political affiliation marker, not a tribal genetic marker.

    @Steve C:

    Well, Mum would be proud ;-)

    We are a bit lite on the South East Asian type – Chinese, Japanese, Melanesian, Polynesian… but maybe in a generation or two more ;-)


    You made me look up the Louisiana Purchase and discover they got it from Spain… not so long before selling it to us. so take that, add in Florida and the entire Gulf Coast, looks like a large percentage of the USA native born population has a solid claim!

  13. p.g.sharrow says:

    Interesting, Nostradamus called the Americas Hesperians. The origin of the Hesperians was in the Hasperian Mountains of Eastern Europe the Alps and Caucasians, Celts! …pg

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