Latin is the name of various peoples or ethnicities related to the
Latiumregion in the Italian Peninsula, to the Latin language, or to its descendants, the Romance languages.
The Latins were an ancient Italic people from the
Latiumregion in central Italy, ("Latium Vetus" - Old Latium). Although they lived in independent city-states, the Latins had a common language ( Latin), common religious beliefs and a close sense of kinship, expressed in the myth that they were all descendants of Latinus, the father-in-law of Aeneas. Latinus was worshipped as Jupiter Latiaris on Mons Albanus ( Monte Cavo) during an annual festival that was attended by all Latins, including Rome, one of the Latin states. The Latin cities extended common right to residence and trade to one another. Rome's territorial ambitions united the rest of the Latins against it in 341 BC, but the final victory was on Rome's side in 338 BC. Consequently, some of the Latin states were incorporated within the Roman state, and their inhabitants were given full Roman citizenship. Others became Roman allies and enjoyed certain privileges.
Gradually, with the spread of Roman power throughout
Italyand Western Europe, 'Latin' ceased to be an ethnic term and became a legal category.
Byzantine Empire, "Latins" was a synonym of "Western Europeans", referring to all people of the Roman Catholicfaith (which at the time included northern Europe as well). Today, the term "Latins" is used in the sense of "Roman Catholic" - as a distinction to Eastern Orthodox. The term was later borrowed, in various variants, by several languages of the Middle Eastand southern Asia, sometimes referring to any European.
Latin as Latin European
Most commonly in
Europe, as a noun, the term “Latin” is applied to people from countries where Romance languagesare spoken and so Italians, Spaniards(including Catalans), Portuguese, French and Romanians are popularly called "Latins" by other Europeans because of their distinctive Roman roots. The definition of Latin is non-racial and refers only to the linguistic and cultural background of these nations.
In Canada, French-speaking
Quebecis often considered to be inhabited by the "Latins of the North", though this usage is not very common outside of Quebec or French-speaking Europe.
Latin as Latino or Latin American
United StatesLatin and Latino (from the Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese form of Latin) are often used as synonyms in referring to people from Latin America(the parts of the Americaswhere Latin-derived languages are spoken, and where most of the population has Latin-European ancestry or have direct European roots). As a shortening of the term 'Latin America', "Latin" not only refers to an inhabitant of Latin America, but is someone who is a decendant of the Latins in Europe. In this sense, the term is used as an equivalent to terms like the European definition. Basically, this means that they are descendant of European Latin. The term is actually translated in Spanish form- for instant "Latino" refers to latin man and "latina" refers to latin woman.
Race and ethnicity in the United States Census
* [http://www.orbilat.com/General_Survey/Terms--Latins_and_Romans.html Distinguishing the terms: Latins and Romans]
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