WASHINGTON (AP) _ Cuban entrepreneurs have helped push Florida to the top spot for Hispanic businesses, leading even Los Angeles with its larger Spanish-heritage population, a new study shows.

The Miami and Tampa metropolitan areas topped the list of communities with high rates of Hispanic-owned companies, according to the study published in the November edition of American Demographics magazine.

Los Angeles, even though it has more Hispanic residents and businesses, ranks considerably lower, as do such large communities as New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, despite their large number of residents of Hispanic background, author William O'Hare reports.

He found that the Miami metropolitan area averages 42.9 Hispanic-owned businesses per 1,000 residents of Spanish heritage, well ahead of the 33.8 rate in Tampa-St. Petersburg and nearly triple the 14.5 rate of the Los Angeles urban area, which has a larger total of Hispanic businesses.

O'Hare, a contributing editor of the American Demographics, a Dow Jones publication specializing in population issues, is director of policy studies at the Population Reference Bureau, an independent research group in Washington.

Using statistics from the Census Bureau's 1982 Survey of Minority-Owned Business, O'Hare calculated the rate of Hispanic businesses in 41 major metropolitan areas.

Miami, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Washington; McAllen, Texas, and Santa Barbara, Calif., topped the list, he found.

And such major meteopolitan areas as New York, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia and Newark were near the bottom.

''These areas attract a large number of Hispanic migrants and have relatively large Hispanic populations, but few of their Hispanic residents open businesses,'' he wrote.

Cubans are the most active entrepreneurs, with a rate of 46 businesses per 1,000 people, O'Hare found, and their large numbers in Miami helped boost that area's Hispanic business rate.

Nationally, the nation's 14.6 million Hispanic population managed an overall business rate of 17 per 1,000 people.

Mexicans, the largest component of that group at 8.7 million, were close to average with a rate of 16 businesses per 1,000, and so were Central and South Americans and people from Spain, with a rate of 18.

Only 7 of every 1,000 Puerto Ricans owned businesses, on the other hand.

Thus, areas with many Cubans such as Miami were high on the list, while cities where Puerto Ricans concentrate, such as New York, were well down.

Hispanic businesses are concentrated in major metro areas, O'Hare noted, with just four areas, Miami, Los Angeles, New York and San Antonio, accounting for nearly one-third of all Hispanic businesses in the nation.

O'Hare said there was little correlation between the level of Hispanic education in metro areas and their buisiness rate, but areas with higher Hispanic income were those with higher rates of Hispanic-owned businesses.

Here is a rundown of the 41 metro areas O'Hare studied with their rate of Hispanic-owned businesses per 1,000 residents of Spanish heritage, plus the total number of Hispanic businesses in the metro area. The names listed are for the major city in the region, although the technical metro designation is usually longer: Boston being listed, for example, for the metro area of Boston-Lowell-Brockton-Lawrence-Haverhill, Mass. Metro Rate Busnss Miami 42.9 24,898 Tampa, Fl 33.8 2,686 Washington 25.2 2,357 McAllen, Tx 25.0 5,766 Santa Brbra, Ca 24.2 1,399 Laredo, Tx 22.6 2,049 Houston, Tx 21.8 9,276 San Frncsco,Ca 21.7 7,649 Corps Crsti,Tx 21.7 3,428 San Antono, Tx 21.5 10,341 Las Cruces, NM 21.3 1,071 Brownsvlle, Tx 20.9 3,377 Austin, Tx 20.5 1,932 El Paso, Tx 20.2 5,994 San Jose, Ca 18.7 4,243 Anaheim, Ca 18.6 5,317 Oxnard, Ca 18.5 2,092 Albuquerque,NM 18.3 3,005 Sacramento,Ca 18.2 1,852 Tucson, Az 18.2 2,026 Dallas, Tx 18.0 4,493 Riverside, Ca 18.0 5,218 Denver, Co 17.9 3,108 San Diego, Ca 17.8 4,903 Nassau-Sflk,NY 16.4 1,659 Jersey City,NJ 16.3 2,367 Stockton, Ca 15.1 1,002 Fresno, Ca 15.0 2,266 Los Angeles,Ca 14.5 29,982 Salinas, Ca 14.3 1,074 Bakersfield,Ca 13.4 1,170 Visalia, Ca 13.4 979 Phoenix, Az 13.2 2,631 Detroit 11.9 852 Boston 11.8 782 Newark, NJ 11.6 1,541 Philadelphia 9.7 1,133 Honolulu 8.9 484 Paterson, NJ 8.7 543 New York 8.2 12,292 Chicago 7.9 4,562