Spain's crown prince on Sunday evening in Miami called the contribution of Hispanic culture to the United States "decisive" and noted that Spanish, which is spoken by 500 million people around the world and 50 million in the U.S. alone, is the language of an "open, diverse and dynamic" community.

Prince Felipe spoke at the opening the Miami Book Fair International, where the heir to the Spanish crown and his wife, Princess Letizia, arrived after the first stop of their official U.S. tour from Los Angeles.

"Things Hispanic, with its culture and values, and things Spanish ... make a decisive contribution to ... U.S. identity," the prince said.

Felipe acknowledged the extraordinarily warm welcome given to the royal couple by the 1,500 people packing Miami's Olympia Theater during a speech that he delivered in both English and Spanish.

He spoke Spanish when recalling that the Iberian tongue is now a worldwide language, “the second most-used in international communication," and is spoken by almost 500 million people of "multiple nationalities."

In that sense, the state of Florida, Felipe said, is "a faithful reflection of that variety ... and of the enriching coexistence of an Hispanic identity with others of much different origins."

He also referred to Miami as "a city with a multitude of accents in ... Spanish: Cubans, Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans," not to mention many Spaniards and citizens of other nations of Ibero-America, "attracted by the dynamism of this great city."

The Miami Book Fair International this year is dedicated to Spain to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the discovery by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon of the peninsula he dubbed "La Florida."

The annual event was founded 30 years ago by Miami Dade College. 

A large number literary and cultural events are scheduled this week at the Spanish Pavilion, all of them sponsored by the government of Spain, and the royal couple visited the pavilion after the opening ceremony on Sunday.

This was the first event in Florida attended by the royal couple. On Monday, they will be presented with the keys to the city by Mayor Tomás Regalado, meet with Florida Gov. Rick Scott will preside at a dinner at the Spain-Florida Foundation.

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