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Several states in the country got their names from Spanish. Photo: Deposit Photos
Several states in the U.S. got their names from Spanish. Photo: DepositPhotos

Why do some southern and southeastern states have Spanish names?

The Hispanic heritage of several states and cities in the U.S. is evident in their Spanish names.

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Contrary to what many believe, much of the current territory of the United States was colonized by the Spanish and not by the English, which is why several of the most important cities in the south and southeast of the country have Spanish names to this day.
 
In addition to the colony, more than a century ago, the states of California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Texas belonged to Mexico, until 1848, when the country was forced to give part of its territory to the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo.
Los Angeles 
The city of Hollywood movies got its name thanks to the Franciscan priest Juan Crespi and Captain Fernando Rivera y Moncada, who described in his diary a "beautiful river in the northwest located at 34 degrees and 10 minutes." 
 
This river in turn was named 'Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles de la Porciúncula' in honor of the feast of the Pardon and a small chapel of San Francisco de Asís, where there was an image of the Virgin Mary surrounded by Angels.
 
In 1781, the Spanish governor of Las Californias, Felipe de Neve and 44 other settlers founded 'El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles del río Porciúncula,' a place that over the centuries cut its name 'Los Ángeles' or L.A. for those who still find it too long.
San Antonio
The Catholic religion is an important part of U.S. Hispanic origins, especially in the South, says Catholic University of America professor Matt Vander Venner in an article on the epicPew.
 
Like the city, which got its name in 1691 in commemoration of St. Anthony of Padua, many other urban centers were founded in remembrance of the Saints and other aspects of religion: San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Fe, to name a few. 
Nevada
The first European explorers to chart the area now known as Nevada were Spanish, who gave the state its name because of the snow that covered the mountains during the winter.
 
The name 'Nevada' derives from the nearby Sierra Nevada, which was named after the mountain range of the same name in Granada.
Monterey
This city located in California, and like neighboring places, was Mexican territory until 1848. 
 
Monterrey, California was founded on June 3, 1770 under the name 'El Presidio Real de San Carlos de Monterrey' and was the first capital of the state of California, from 1777 to 1849. In 1850, it was replaced as the state's capital by Sacramento.
El Paso
This city in Texas got its name as an abbreviation of "El Paso del Norte," which refers to the passage that the Rio Grande River creates through the mountains on both sides. The county is located north of the border with Mexico.
Florida
The name of this southern state comes from the vision of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, who sailed near the Florida coast in 1513 as Easter approached and christened the beautiful, greenish land 'La Pascua Florida.'
 
Its name is due to the lushness of the peninsula and the timing of Ponce de Leon's visit, which came in the Spring.
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