Difference between Mexican and Hispanic

Updated on June 28, 2017

Bearing strong associations because of their similarity in appearance and language, the Mexican and Hispanic people groups seem indistinguishable at first glance. However, they are completely distinct in a number of ways. This article provides information on the differences between the two.


The map of Mexico overlayed with the Mexican flag

Mexican is a nationality that refers to the group of people living in the country of Mexico. Even though the term “Mexican” is usually used to address the people in this country, it is also used to name a concept or a commodity that originates from Mexico.

Mexico is a multiethnic country located in Northern America. In the 16th century, the term “Mexicano” was used to describe the people living in Mexico as a single group. The term “Mexicano” was changed into “Mexican” after the country achieved independence. The country used to be under the colony of the Spanish Empire but it later gained independence. Mexicans have varied origins and an identity that has evolved throughout the years.

A Hispanic group of people

Hispanic, on the other hand, pertains to a nation, a group of people, and a culture that are historically connected to Spain. The term “Hispanic” is an ethnonym that makes a specific ethnicity more distinct.

Hispanics are Anglo-European individuals living in different states that were once colonized by the Spanish Empire, specifically the states of Latin America and the Philippines in Asia. The term was formerly used to pertain to the people of Roman Hispania. Generally, Hispanic refers to Spanish-influenced or Spanish-speaking countries around the world, particularly in America.

Mexican vs Hispanic

So what’s the difference between Mexican and Hispanic?

Firstly, the term “Mexican” is a nationality while the term “Hispanic” is an ethnonym, which is a term that provides distinction to a group of people, a nation and a specific culture that are associated with Spain. Mexican refers to the group of people living in Mexico. Meanwhile, Hispanic pertains to people living in Spanish-influenced and Spanish-speaking countries in America and Asia.

In terms of classification, Mexicans are used to distinguish a nation, a group of people, or a set of products from Mexico. Hispanics, on the other hand, are Spanish-speaking descendants from Latin America who are living in the countries that were once colonized by the Spanish Regime.

When it comes to cultural diversity, Hispanics are more diverse since the individuals in this group have different origins. Meanwhile, Mexicans are distinct for having a culture of their own.

Lastly, Spanish is the main language of Mexicans, but not all Mexicans can speak Spanish. All Hispanics, by contrast, can speak Spanish.

Comparison Chart





Refers to a group of people living in the state of Mexico

Refers people living in Spanish-influenced and Spanish-speaking countries in America and Asia

A term used to distinguish a nation, group of people, or set of products from Mexico

Refers only to Spanish-speaking people

A native of Mexico

A Latin American descendant
Distinct cultureDiverse culture

Not all Mexicans speak Spanish

All Hispanics speak Spanish