1524 First Spanish exploration of the coast of Maine.
1940 The U.S. Census Department makes the first Latino population estimate (60) residing in Maine.
1990s Latino businesses emerge in southern Maine.
2004 Portland’s first Latino Youth Soccer Championship tournament is held.
The 9,360 Latinos residing in Maine on April 1, 2000, ranked the state 48th in total Latino population. Latinos made up 0.7 percent of the state’s population, which ranked Maine 49th in concentration of Latinos. Although the Latino population in the state is growing, it is doing so at a slower rate than New Hampshire and Vermont, states in the region with similarly small Latino populations. The first estimate of the Latino population in Maine was the 1940 U. S. census, which reported 60 Latinos living in the state. The 1970 U. S. census estimated that 2,433 Latinos resided in the state. By 1980 the Latino population was estimated to be 5,005, and in 1990, the estimate was 6,829, which was less than 0.5 percent of the state’s population.
Long before today’s Latino presence in Maine, the state was explored by early Spanish cartographers who sailed the eastern coast of the United States to map North America. Esteban Gomez was the first to sail the coast of Maine and travel inland, in 1524. Though no narrative or log of the journey exists, his detailed maps verify his exploration. He entered the Penobscot River and traveled to what
is today the city of Bangor. He was unsuccessful in his attempt to find a direct passage to China, but he returned to Spain with slaves, some of whom were Algonquin Indians.