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Latinos in Our Area

While the Census has long been criticized for underestimating the number of poor, rural poor, and immigrants, using Census data is helpful to establish a preliminary point of reference.

Nationally, Hispanics are the largest ethnic group, as well as the fastest growing. The Census statistics for 2009, released in June 2010, are the last ones before the 2010 Census count is released in April 2011. They reflect:

The U.S. population grew 1% to 307 million people. About 35 million Hispanics were counted in the 2000 Census; they are now estimated to number 47 million or 15% of the population. In comparison, there are 39.6 million African Americans and 14 million Asians.

The rise in the Hispanic population is being driven by high birthrates. More than 70% of the 1.5 million additional Hispanics in 2009 were born in the U.S., while immigration accounted for just 18% of the growth. Among Latinos, there are nine births for every one death; for whites, the ratio is one-to-one.

Data from previous years indicate:

Nationally, the Hispanic population is comprised largely of Mexicans (64%), Puerto Ricans (9%), Cubans (3.5%), Salvadorans (3%) and Dominicans (2.7%).

One in 10 Virginians is foreign-born. The foreign-born population in the metropolitan area of Washington, Arlington and Alexandria is 20%. Harrisonburg has the second highest percentage, 9%. Following it are Charlottesville, Richmond, Virginia Beach and Winchester, at 6%.

The top five countries of birth for Virginia's foreign-born in 2006 were El Salvador, Mexico, Korea, Philippines and India.

The Hispanic population in Virginia tripled between 1990 and 2006. The 2009 Census information shows 570,000 of Virginia’s 7.9 million residents, or 7%, are Latinos, representing a 70% jump from the 330,000 Latinos in the state a decade ago.

The most recent demographic studies from the UVA Weldon Cooper Center (2008) reveal:

Virginia’s largest Latino populations are Mexicans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans.

More than half of Virginia’s Latinos are U.S. born citizens, 13% are naturalized citizens, and the rest are living in the State with or without legal authorization. Around 85% of Virginia’s Latino children under 18 are U.S. born.

Virginia’s non-citizen Hispanic residents are in general, less educated, poorer and more likely to lack health insurance than the rest of the population. In comparison, adult Hispanic citizens surpass Virginians overall in both educational attainment and household income.

Among other data, both Hispanic citizens and immigrants are overrepresented in Virginia’s military.

Locally, the 2009 data reflects:

Total Population
% Latino/Hispanic Origin
Number of Latinos/Hispanics
Charlottesville City
Albemarle County

It is likely that some 6,000 or more Latinos/Hispanics reside in the greater Charlottesville area. Among them, Mexicans, Salvadorans and Hondurans – according to observations of local service providers, educators, churches, and Latinos - are the most populous.

Latinos have been attracted to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area and keep coming because of the availability of employment in the service industry, construction, and agriculture. Many adults are U.S. citizens, legal residents or have permission to work; others are undocumented. Increasingly, Latino children are U.S. born and citizens. Most Latinos, especially adults, typically have Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and are thus:

uninformed about community resources, benefits and services, their legal rights and laws;

unaware of benefits they do receive and of processes to retain them and unable to ask questions about or follow up on them; and, as a result of these and other language barriers

are underserved and, in the eyes of the law, discriminated against.

The purpose of this webpage, Latinos in Our Area, is to recognize local Latino leaders and to provide sociological and economic data and other references about our local Latino population. The page also compiles references about Latinos in Virginia.

Please send suggestions and new references to


Community Profile of the Month

References about Our Local Latino Population

Media Reports

Other Sources

Latinos in Virginia

Statewide Resources
Media, academic studies, sensitivity trainings and other resources about Latinos in the state of Virginia.

Community Networks in Virginia
A directory of networks serving Latinos in Virginia.


CJ uses this section to profile a Latino/a - from Charlottesville, Albemarle County or a nearby locality - who is engaged in initiatives that benefit the Latino community and/or enhance awareness about it. Since its beginning in April 2006, the section has recognized personalities from the media, non-profits, small businesses, and a UVA administrator and student. To recommend a future profile please contact the CJ Program Coordinator at

January 2011 – February 2011
Chris Breland

Chris was born in the U.S. to Puerto Rican parents. At home, her mother spoke English and her father Spanish. Chris's grandmother was a major influence on both her knowledge of Spanish cultures and heritage. Among her multicultural experiences, Chris’s mother-in-law, a Colombian native, introduced her to the Spanish community in Charlottesville.

Of her jobs in Las Vegas and locally at Albemarle Social Services, Chris says, "it has been a rewarding experience to assist Spanish speakers accessing services and to reduce their frustration with language barriers." Recently, Chris started up a Zumba Fitness program at The Laughing Dragon Kung Fu Studio (3006 Berkmar Drive) on Sundays from 4-5pm. Classes are only $5 and beginners are welcomed! Chris can be reached at

View Previous Profiles