The links between Spain and the United States have profound historical and cultural roots, which go back to the journeys made by Spanish explorers to the American territories in the 16th Century. Among these major milestones are the discovery of Florida by Juan Ponce de León in 1513; the establishment of the Pensacola settlement in 1559 by Tristán de Luna y Arellano; the foundation of San Agustín, the first city created by Europeans on the continental United States, in 1565 by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés; the establishment of the network of Franciscan missions in California by Fray Junípero Serra, the first Hispanic saint in the U.S., these missions being the origins of the major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego; and the contribution of Bernardo de Gálvez to the independence of the United States: his portrait has now returned to the US Capitol, and he has been named citizen of honour in 2015. All these recall the important presence of Spain on US territory.
This important legacy is not simply a memory, as today Hispanic and Spanish contributions are firmly present in US society. The Hispanic community in the U.S. accounts for 17.4% of the population, with over 55 million Spanish speakers. Our language is the most studied in the U.S., and by 2050 the U.S. will be the country with the most Spanish speakers in the world. The Spanish community living in the country is also growing, and now numbers around 100,000. They occupy leading positions in the business, scientific, technological, educational, cultural and sporting communities in US society. Spanish residents or visitors to the United States have the support of nine Spanish Consulates General in New York, Boston, Miami, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Juan de Puerto Rico and Washington DC.