By Austin Carter

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida’s population has changed dramatically over the decades because of Hispanic immigration, and even among Hispanics there’s been a lot of change.

“The Hispanic population is the fastest-growing population in South Florida,” says Dr. Maria Ilcheva.

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Dr. Ilcheva leads the Census Information Center at Florida International University’s Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center.

According to data from MiamiDadeMatters.org, the Hispanic population, specifically in Miami-Dade County, dominates all at just over 71% of the population.

When it comes to growth, Dr. Ilcheva says in Broward County the Hispanic population over the past decade increased 39%.

“It’s spreading out north now as people move from Miami-Dade north of the county and as people settle from their home counties to other counties,” says Dr. Ilcheva.

There’s not just the growth in percentages but the growing diversity of the Hispanic population too.

That diversity is showing up in places beyond the original hubs of Little Havana and Hialeah. Take Weston for example.

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“It’s not Cuban-Hispanic as many citizens as Miami-Dade County are, but it has Venezuelans and other nationalities from Latin America,” says Dr. Ilcheva.

Don’t forget Doral either, where a large Venezuelan population has moved in.

Escaping economic conditions can be a common reason for leaving some Hispanic countries, but Dr. Ilechva has also noticed a rise in other factors.

“We see in South Florida the other groups quite well represented, these are your higher income groups, these are your entrepreneurs who are moving here not just because they seek better opportunities but because they have the higher education level and resources,” says Dr. Ilcheva.

Changes are happening across the country, too.

The U.S. Hispanic population reached 62.1 million in 2020, up from 50.5 million in 2010, according to a chart from Pew Research.

Mexican Americans are by far the biggest group.

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As for the Florida cities with the largest Hispanic population for 2021 – Hialeah Gardens, Hialeah, Sweetwater, West Miami and Miami Lakes top the list from HomeSnacks.com.