Latin America

Latin America

Overview
Latin America is a region of the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 where Romance languages
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

 (i.e., those derived from Latin) – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² (7,880,000 sq mi), almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area. As of 2010, its population was estimated at more than 590 million and its combined GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 at 5.16 trillion United States dollars (6.27 trillion at PPP
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

).
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Encyclopedia
Latin America is a region of the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 where Romance languages
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

 (i.e., those derived from Latin) – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² (7,880,000 sq mi), almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area. As of 2010, its population was estimated at more than 590 million and its combined GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 at 5.16 trillion United States dollars (6.27 trillion at PPP
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

). The Latin American expected economic growth rate is at about 5.7% for 2010 and 4% in 2011.

Etymology and definitions


The idea that a part of the Americas has a cultural affinity with the Romance cultures as a whole can be traced back to the 1830s, in particular in the writing of the French Saint-Simonian
Saint-Simonianism
Saint-Simonianism was a French political and social movement of the first half of the 19th century, inspired by the ideas of Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon ....

 Michel Chevalier
Michel Chevalier
Michel Chevalier was a French engineer, statesman, economist and free market liberal.-Biography:Born in Limoges, Haute-Vienne, Chevalier studied at the École Polytechnique, obtaining an engineering degree at the Paris École des mines in 1829.In 1830, after the July Revolution, he became a...

, who postulated that this part of the Americas were inhabited by people of a "Latin race", and that it could, therefore, ally itself with "Latin Europe
Latin Europe
Latin Europe is a loose term for the region of Europe with an especially strong Latin cultural heritage inherited from the Roman Empire.-Application:...

" in a struggle with "Teutonic Europe
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

", "Anglo-Saxon America
Anglo-America
Anglo-America is a region in the Americas in which English is a main language, or one which has significant British historical, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural links...

" and "Slavic Europe
Slavic Europe
Slavic Europe is a region of Europe where Slavic languages are spoken. This area is situated in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, and includes the nations of Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Russia,...

". The idea was later taken up by Latin American intellectuals and political leaders of the mid- and late-nineteenth century, who no longer looked to Spain or Portugal as cultural models, but rather to France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. The term was first used in Paris in an 1856 conference by the Chilean politician Francisco Bilbao
Francisco Bilbao
Francisco Bilbao Barquín was a Chilean politician of liberal ideas.Francisco Bilbao Barquin was born in Santiago on January 9, 1823...

 and the same year by the Colombian writer José María Torres Caicedo in his poem "Two Americas. The term Latin America was supported by the French Empire of Napoleon III during the French invasion of Mexico, as a way to include France among countries with influence in America and to exclude Anglophone countries, and played a role in his campaign to imply cultural kinship of the region with France, transform France into a cultural and political leader of the area, and install Maximilian of Habsburg
Maximilian I of Mexico
Maximilian I was the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire.After a distinguished career in the Austrian Navy, he was proclaimed Emperor of Mexico on April 10, 1864, with the backing of Napoleon III of France and a group of Mexican monarchists who sought to revive the Mexican monarchy...

 as emperor of the Second Mexican Empire
Second Mexican Empire
The Second Mexican Empire was the name of Mexico under the regime established from 1864 to 1867. It was created by Napoleon III of France, who attempted to use the Mexican adventure to recapture some of the grandeur of earlier Napoleonic times...

.

In contemporary usage:
  • In one sense, Latin America refers to territories in America where the Spanish or Portuguese languages prevail: Mexico, most of Central and South America, and in the Caribbean, Cuba
    Cuba
    The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

    , the Dominican Republic
    Dominican Republic
    The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

    , and Puerto Rico
    Puerto Rico
    Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

     — in summary, Hispanic America
    Hispanic America
    Hispanic America or Spanish America is the region comprising the American countries inhabited by Spanish-speaking populations.These countries have significant commonalities with each other and with Spain, whose colonies they formerly were...

     and Brazil. Latin America is, therefore, defined as all those parts of the Americas that were once part of the Spanish and Portuguese Empires. By this definition, Latin America is coterminous with Iberoamerica ("Iberian America").
  • Particularly in the United States, the term more broadly refers to all of the Americas south of the United States, thus including: English-speaking countries
    Anglophone Caribbean
    The term Commonwealth Caribbean is used to refer to the independent English-speaking countries of the Caribbean region. Upon a country's full independence from the United Kingdom, Anglophone Caribbean or Commonwealth Caribbean traditionally becomes the preferred sub-regional term as a replacement...

     such as Belize
    Belize
    Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

    , Jamaica
    Jamaica
    Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

    , Barbados
    Barbados
    Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

    , Trinidad and Tobago
    Trinidad and Tobago
    Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

    , Guyana
    Guyana
    Guyana , officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and of the British...

    , Antigua and Barbuda
    Antigua and Barbuda
    Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island nation lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands...

    , St. Lucia, Dominica
    Dominica
    Dominica , officially the Commonwealth of Dominica, is an island nation in the Lesser Antilles region of the Caribbean Sea, south-southeast of Guadeloupe and northwest of Martinique. Its size is and the highest point in the country is Morne Diablotins, which has an elevation of . The Commonwealth...

    , Grenada
    Grenada
    Grenada is an island country and Commonwealth Realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea...

    , St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Bahamas
    The Bahamas
    The Bahamas , officially the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, is a nation consisting of 29 islands, 661 cays, and 2,387 islets . It is located in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba and Hispaniola , northwest of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and southeast of the United States...

    ; French-speaking Haiti
    Haiti
    Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

     and Martinique
    Martinique
    Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of . Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. To the northwest lies Dominica, to the south St Lucia, and to the southeast Barbados...

    , Guadeloupe
    Guadeloupe
    Guadeloupe is an archipelago located in the Leeward Islands, in the Lesser Antilles, with a land area of 1,628 square kilometres and a population of 400,000. It is the first overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. As with the other overseas departments, Guadeloupe...

    , French Guiana
    French Guiana
    French Guiana is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department located on the northern Atlantic coast of South America. It has borders with two nations, Brazil to the east and south, and Suriname to the west...

    ; and the Dutch-speaking Netherlands Antilles
    Netherlands Antilles
    The Netherlands Antilles , also referred to informally as the Dutch Antilles, was an autonomous Caribbean country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, consisting of two groups of islands in the Lesser Antilles: Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao , in Leeward Antilles just off the Venezuelan coast; and Sint...

    , Aruba
    Aruba
    Aruba is a 33 km-long island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, located 27 km north of the coast of Venezuela and 130 km east of Guajira Peninsula...

     and Suriname
    Suriname
    Suriname , officially the Republic of Suriname , is a country in northern South America. It borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean. Suriname was a former colony of the British and of the Dutch, and was previously known as...

    . (In the former Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, Papiamento
    Papiamento
    Papiamento is the most widely spoken language on the Caribbean ABC islands, having the official status on the islands of Aruba and Curaçao. The language is also recognized on Bonaire by the Dutch government....

     – a predominantly Iberian-derived creole language – is spoken by the majority of the population.) This definition emphasizes a similar socioeconomic
    Socioeconomics
    Socioeconomics or socio-economics or social economics is an umbrella term with different usages. 'Social economics' may refer broadly to the "use of economics in the study of society." More narrowly, contemporary practice considers behavioral interactions of individuals and groups through social...

     history of the region, which was characterized by formal or informal colonialism
    Neocolonialism
    Neocolonialism is the practice of using capitalism, globalization, and cultural forces to control a country in lieu of direct military or political control...

    , rather than cultural aspects. (See, for example, dependency theory
    Dependency theory
    Dependency theory or dependencia theory is a body of social science theories predicated on the notion that resources flow from a "periphery" of poor and underdeveloped states to a "core" of wealthy states, enriching the latter at the expense of the former...

    .) As such, some sources avoid this oversimplification by using the phrase "Latin America and the Caribbean" instead, as in the United Nations geoscheme for the Americas.
  • In a more literal definition, which remains faithful to the original usage, Latin America designates all of those countries and territories in the Americas where a Romance language (i.e., languages derived from Latin
    Latin
    Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

    , and hence the name of the region) is spoken: Spanish, Portuguese, and French
    French language
    French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

    , and the creole language
    Creole language
    A creole language, or simply a creole, is a stable natural language developed from the mixing of parent languages; creoles differ from pidgins in that they have been nativized by children as their primary language, making them have features of natural languages that are normally missing from...

    s based upon these. Although French-influenced areas of the Americas would include Quebec
    Quebec
    Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

    , this region is rarely considered to be part of Latin America, since its history, distinctive culture and economy, and British-inspired political institutions are generally deemed too closely intertwined with the rest of Canada.


The distinction between Latin America and Anglo-America
Anglo-America
Anglo-America is a region in the Americas in which English is a main language, or one which has significant British historical, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural links...

, which can be criticized for stressing only the European heritage of these regions (that is, for Eurocentrism
Eurocentrism
Eurocentrism is the practice of viewing the world from a European perspective and with an implied belief, either consciously or subconsciously, in the preeminence of European culture...

), is a convention based on the predominant languages in the Americas by which Romance-language and English-speaking cultures are distinguished. Neither area is culturally or linguistically homogeneous; in substantial portions of Latin America (e.g., highland Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

, and Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

), American Indian
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 cultures and, to a lesser extent, Amerindian languages, are predominant, and in other areas, the influence of African cultures is strong (e.g., the Caribbean basin—including parts of Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 and Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

)—and the coastal areas of Ecuador and Brazil.

Subdivisions



Latin America can be subdivided into several subregions based on geography, politics, demographics and culture. The basic geographical subregions are North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

, the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 and South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

; the latter contains further politico-geographical subdivisions such as the Southern Cone
Southern Cone
Southern Cone is a geographic region composed of the southernmost areas of South America, south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Although geographically this includes part of Southern and Southeast of Brazil, in terms of political geography the Southern cone has traditionally comprised Argentina,...

 and the Andean states
Andean states
The Andean States are a group of nations in South America that are defined by sharing a common geography or culture such as the Quechua language and Andean cuisine which was primarily spread during the times of the Inca Empire, but also before and after it.Politically speaking, Argentina and Chile...

. It may be subdivided on linguistic grounds into Hispanic America
Hispanic America
Hispanic America or Spanish America is the region comprising the American countries inhabited by Spanish-speaking populations.These countries have significant commonalities with each other and with Spain, whose colonies they formerly were...

 and Portuguese America.

History


Pre-columbian history


The Americas were thought to have been first inhabited by people crossing the Bering Land Bridge
Bering land bridge
The Bering land bridge was a land bridge roughly 1,000 miles wide at its greatest extent, which joined present-day Alaska and eastern Siberia at various times during the Pleistocene ice ages. Like most of Siberia and all of Manchuria, Beringia was not glaciated because snowfall was extremely light...

, now known as the Bering
Bering Strait
The Bering Strait , known to natives as Imakpik, is a sea strait between Cape Dezhnev, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, the easternmost point of the Asian continent and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, USA, the westernmost point of the North American continent, with latitude of about 65°40'N,...

 strait
Strait
A strait or straits is a narrow, typically navigable channel of water that connects two larger, navigable bodies of water. It most commonly refers to a channel of water that lies between two land masses, but it may also refer to a navigable channel through a body of water that is otherwise not...

, from northeast Asia into Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 well over 10,000 years ago. The earliest known settlement, however, was identified at Monte Verde, near Puerto Montt in Southern Chile. Its occupation dates to some 14,000 years ago and there is some disputed evidence of even earlier occupation. Over the course of millennia, people spread to all parts of the continents. By the first millennium AD/CE
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

, South America's vast rainforests, mountains, plains and coasts were the home of tens of millions of people. The earliest settlements in the Americas are of the Las Vegas Culture
Las Vegas culture (archaeology)
The Las Vegas culture was a complex of late-Pleistocene and Holocene settlements along the coast of present day Ecuador, which emerged between 8000 BCE and 4600 BCE...

 from about 8000 BC and 4600 BC, a sedentary group from the coast of Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, the forefathers of the more known Valdivia culture
Valdivia Culture
The Valdivia Culture is one of the oldest settled cultures recorded in the Americas. It emerged from the earlier Las Vegas culture and thrived on the Santa Elena peninsula near the modern-day town of Valdivia, Ecuador between 3500 BC and 1800 BC....

, of the same era. Some groups formed more permanent settlements such as the Chibchas (or "Muiscas" or "Muyscas") and the Tairona
Tairona
Tairona was a group of chiefdoms in the region of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in present-day Cesar, Magdalena and La Guajira Departments of Colombia, South America, which goes back at least to the 1st century AD and had significant demographic growth around the 11th century.The Tairona people...

 groups. These groups are in the circum Caribbean region. The Chibchas of Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, the Quechuas
Quechuas
Quechuas is the collective term for several indigenous ethnic groups in South America who speak a Quechua language , belonging to several ethnic groups in South America, especially in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Argentina.The Quechuas of Ecuador call themselves as well as their...

 and Aymaras of Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

 and Perú
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 were the three indigenous groups that settled most permanently.
The region was home to many indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 and advanced civilizations, including the Aztecs, Toltecs, Caribs, Tupi, Maya
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

, and Inca. The golden age
Golden Age
The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, and Iron Ages, and then the present, a period of decline...

 of the Maya began about 250, with the last two great civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

s, the Aztecs and Incas, emerging into prominence later on in the early fourteenth century and mid-fifteenth centuries, respectively. The Aztec empire was ultimately the most powerful civilization known throughout the Americas, until its downfall in part by the Spanish invasion.

European colonization




With the arrival of the Europeans following Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

's voyages, the indigenous elites, such as the Incas and Aztecs, lost power to the heavy European invasion. Hernándo Cortés seized the Aztec elite's power with the help of local groups who did not favor the Aztec elite, and Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro
Francisco Pizarro González, Marquess was a Spanish conquistador, conqueror of the Incan Empire, and founder of Lima, the modern-day capital of the Republic of Peru.-Early life:...

 eliminated the Incan rule in Western South America. The European powers of Spain and Portugal colonized the region, which along with the rest of the uncolonized world, was divided into areas of Spanish and Portuguese control by the line of demarcation
Treaty of Tordesillas
The Treaty of Tordesillas , signed at Tordesillas , , divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between Spain and Portugal along a meridian 370 leagueswest of the Cape Verde islands...

 in 1493, which gave Spain all areas to the west, and Portugal all areas to the east (the Portuguese lands in South America subsequently becoming Brazil). By the end of the sixteenth century Spain and Portugal had been joined by others, including France, in occupying large areas of North, Central and South America, ultimately extending from Alaska to the southern tips of the Patagonia
Patagonia
Patagonia is a region located in Argentina and Chile, integrating the southernmost section of the Andes mountains to the southwest towards the Pacific ocean and from the east of the cordillera to the valleys it follows south through Colorado River towards Carmen de Patagones in the Atlantic Ocean...

. European culture, customs and government were introduced, with the Roman Catholic Church becoming the major economic and political power to overrule the traditional ways of the region, eventually becoming the only official religion of the Americas during this period.

Epidemics of diseases brought by the Europeans, such as smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 and measles
Measles
Measles, also known as rubeola or morbilli, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. Morbilliviruses, like other paramyxoviruses, are enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA viruses...

, wiped out a large portion of the indigenous population. Historians cannot determine the number of natives who died due to European diseases, but some put the figures as high as 85% and as low as 25%. Due to the lack of written records, specific numbers are hard to verify. Many of the survivors were forced to work in European plantations and mines. Intermixing
Miscegenation
Miscegenation is the mixing of different racial groups through marriage, cohabitation, sexual relations, and procreation....

 between the indigenous peoples and the European colonists was very common, and, by the end of the colonial period
Colonial Period
Colonial Period may generally refer to any period in a country's history when it was subject to administration by a colonial power.*Korea under Japanese rule*Colonial history of the United States...

, people of mixed ancestry (mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

s) formed majorities in several colonies.

Independence (1804–1825)




Haiti, sometimes counted among the Latin American nations, was the first to gain independence, in 1804. This followed from a violent slave revolt led by Toussaint L'ouverture
Toussaint L'Ouverture
François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture , also Toussaint Bréda, Toussaint-Louverture was the leader of the Haitian Revolution. His military genius and political acumen led to the establishment of the independent black state of Haiti, transforming an entire society of slaves into a free,...

 on the French colony of Saint-Domingue
Saint-Domingue
The labour for these plantations was provided by an estimated 790,000 African slaves . Between 1764 and 1771, the average annual importation of slaves varied between 10,000-15,000; by 1786 it was about 28,000, and from 1787 onward, the colony received more than 40,000 slaves a year...

. The victors abolished slavery. Haitian independence helped inspire independence movements in Spanish America.

By the end of the eighteenth century, Spanish and Portuguese power waned on the global scene as other European powers took their place, notably Britain and France. Resentment grew among the majority of the population in Latin America over the restrictions imposed by the Spanish government, as well as the dominance of native Spaniards (Iberian-born Peninsulares
Peninsulares
In the colonial caste system of Spanish America, a peninsular was a Spanish-born Spaniard or mainland Spaniard residing in the New World, as opposed to a person of full Spanish descent born in the Americas or Philippines...

) in the major social and political institution
Institution
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community...

s. Napoleon
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

's invasion of Spain in 1808 marked a turning point, compelling Criollo
Criollo people
The Criollo class ranked below that of the Iberian Peninsulares, the high-born permanent residence colonists born in Spain. But Criollos were higher status/rank than all other castes—people of mixed descent, Amerindians, and enslaved Africans...

 elites to form juntas
Junta (Peninsular War)
In the Napoleonic era, junta was the name chosen by several local administrations formed in Spain during the Peninsular War as a patriotic alternative to the official administration toppled by the French invaders...

 that advocated independence. Also, the newly independent Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

, the second oldest nation in the New World
New World
The New World is one of the names used for the Western Hemisphere, specifically America and sometimes Oceania . The term originated in the late 15th century, when America had been recently discovered by European explorers, expanding the geographical horizon of the people of the European middle...

 after the United States and the oldest independent nation in Latin America, further fueled the independence movement by inspiring the leaders of the movement, such as Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar
Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...

 of Venezuela, José de San Martín
José de San Martín
José Francisco de San Martín, known simply as Don José de San Martín , was an Argentine general and the prime leader of the southern part of South America's successful struggle for independence from Spain.Born in Yapeyú, Corrientes , he left his mother country at the...

 of Argentina and Bernardo O'Higgins
Bernardo O'Higgins
Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme was a Chilean independence leader who, together with José de San Martín, freed Chile from Spanish rule in the Chilean War of Independence. Although he was the second Supreme Director of Chile , he is considered one of Chile's founding fathers, as he was the first holder...

 of Chile, and by providing them with considerable munitions and troops.

Fighting soon broke out between juntas and the Spanish colonial authorities, with initial victories for the advocates of independence. Eventually these early movements were crushed by the royalist troops by 1812, including those of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Francisco de Miranda
Francisco de Miranda
Sebastián Francisco de Miranda Ravelo y Rodríguez de Espinoza , commonly known as Francisco de Miranda , was a Venezuelan revolutionary...

 in Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

. Under the leadership of a new generation of leaders, such as Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar
Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...

 "The Liberator", José de San Martín
José de San Martín
José Francisco de San Martín, known simply as Don José de San Martín , was an Argentine general and the prime leader of the southern part of South America's successful struggle for independence from Spain.Born in Yapeyú, Corrientes , he left his mother country at the...

 of Argentina, Bernardo O'Higgins
Bernardo O'Higgins
Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme was a Chilean independence leader who, together with José de San Martín, freed Chile from Spanish rule in the Chilean War of Independence. Although he was the second Supreme Director of Chile , he is considered one of Chile's founding fathers, as he was the first holder...

 of Chile, and other Libertadores
Libertadores
Libertadores refers to the principal leaders of the Latin American wars of independence from Spain. They are named that way in contrast with the Conquistadors, who were so far the only Spanish peoples recorded in the South American history...

 in South America, the independence movement regained strength, and by 1825, all Spanish America
Hispanic America
Hispanic America or Spanish America is the region comprising the American countries inhabited by Spanish-speaking populations.These countries have significant commonalities with each other and with Spain, whose colonies they formerly were...

, except for Puerto Rico and Cuba, had gained independence from Spain. Brazil achieved independence with a constitutional monarchy established in 1822. In the same year in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, a military officer, Agustín de Iturbide
Agustín de Iturbide
Agustín Cosme Damián de Iturbide y Aramburu , also known as Augustine I of Mexico, was a Mexican army general who built a successful political and military coalition that was able to march into Mexico City on 27 September 1821, decisively ending the Mexican War of Independence...

, led a coalition of conservatives and liberals who created a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

, with Iturbide as emperor
Emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

. This First Mexican Empire
First Mexican Empire
The Mexican Empire was the official name of independent Mexico under a monarchical regime from 1821 to 1823. The territory of the Mexican Empire included the continental intendencies and provinces of New Spain proper...

 was short-lived, and was followed by the creation of a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 in 1823.

Consolidation and liberal-conservative conflicts (1825–1900)



Cold War (1946–1990)



In the 1950s, the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 moved close to the United States, in Latin America. The nations of Latin America faced many critical problems, including widespread poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

 and poor health care. The United States saw this threat to their own security and businesses in Latin America, and used the label of Communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 to wage terrorist and military operations. Through the Cold War, the United States removed many democratically elected leaders of Latin American countries through covert CIA operations and replaced them with leaders who were more friendly to the United States' interests.

Arguably, this interference with the democratic system in these countries created a blowback
Blowback (intelligence)
Blowback is the espionage term for the violent, unintended consequences of a covert operation that are suffered by the civil population of the aggressor government...

 because many Latin Americans
Latin Americans
Latin Americans are the citizens of the Latin American countries and dependencies. Latin American countries are multi-ethnic, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds. As a result, some Latin Americans don't take their nationality as an ethnicity, but identify themselves with...

 rejected the United States involvement. Many of the leaders who were put into power positions by the United States became dictators and oppressors as well.

By the 1970s, leftists had acquired a significant political influence which prompted the right-wing, ecclesiastical authorities and a large portion of the individual country's upper class to support coup d'états to avoid what they perceived as a communist threat. This was further fueled by Cuban and United States intervention which led to a political polarization.

Many Latin American countries were in some part of the Cold War ruled by dictatorship, either of the left or right. Beginning in the 1980s and by the early 1990s, all countries had restored or achieved democracy except Cuba.

Many right-wing regimes were supported by the United States through the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance
Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance
The Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance was an agreement signed on 1947 in Rio de Janeiro among many countries of the Americas...

 in the context of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. Around the 1970s, these regimes collaborated in Operation Condor
Operation Condor
Operation Condor , was a campaign of political repression involving assassination and intelligence operations officially implemented in 1975 by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America...

 killing many leftist dissidents, including some urban guerrillas.

Washington Consensus


The set of specific economic policy prescriptions that were not considered the "standard" reform package were promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries by Washington, D.C.-based institutions such as the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 (IMF), World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, and the US Treasury Department during the 80s and 90s.

In recent years, several Latin American countries led by socialist or other left wing governments—including Argentina, Cuba, Brizal and Venezuela—have campaigned for (and to some degree adopted) policies contrary to the Washington Consensus set of policies. (Other Latin countries with governments of the left, including Brazil, Chile and Peru, have in practice adopted the bulk of the policies). Also critical of the policies as actually promoted by the International Monetary Fund have been some U.S. economists, such as Joseph Stiglitz and Dani Rodrik
Dani Rodrik
Dani Rodrik is a Turkish economist and Rafiq Hariri Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, teaching in the School's MPA/ID Program. He has published widely in the areas of international economics, economic development, and...

, who have challenged what are sometimes described as the "fundamentalist" policies of the International Monetary Fund and the US Treasury for what Stiglitz calls a "one size fits all" treatment of individual economies.

The term has become associated with neoliberal policies in general and drawn into the broader debate over the expanding role of the free market, constraints upon the state, and US influence on other countries' national sovereignty.

This politico-economical initiative was institutionalized in North America by the 1994 NAFTA
North American Free Trade Agreement
The North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA is an agreement signed by the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994. It superseded the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement...

, and elsewhere in the Americas through a series of like agreements. The comprehensive Free Trade Area of the Americas
Free Trade Area of the Americas
The Free Trade Area of the Americas , , ) was a proposed agreement to eliminate or reduce the trade barriers among all countries in the Americas but Cuba. In the last round of negotiations, trade ministers from 34 countries met in Miami, United States, in November 2003 to discuss the proposal...

 project, however, was rejected by most South American countries
Mercosur
Mercosur or Mercosul is an economic and political agreement among Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Founded in 1991 by the Treaty of Asunción, which was later amended and updated by the 1994 Treaty of Ouro Preto. Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people,...

 at the 2005 4th Summit of the Americas.

Turn to the left


In most countries, since the 2000s left-wing political parties have risen to power. Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the 56th and current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela...

 in Venezuela, Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff
Dilma Rousseff
Dilma Vana Rousseff is the 36th and current President of Brazil. She is the first woman to hold the office. Prior to that, in 2005, she was also the first woman to become Chief of Staff of Brazil, appointed by then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva....

 in Brazil, Fernando Lugo
Fernando Lugo
Fernando Armindo Lugo Méndez is the current President of Paraguay and a former Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of San Pedro.-Early life:...

 in Paraguay, Néstor Kirchner
Néstor Kirchner
Néstor Carlos Kirchner was an Argentine politician who served as the 54th President of Argentina from 25 May 2003 until 10 December 2007. Previously, he was Governor of Santa Cruz Province since 10 December 1991. He briefly served as Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations ...

 and his wife Cristina Fernández
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner , commonly known as Cristina Fernández or Cristina Kirchner is the 55th and current President of Argentina and the widow of former President Néstor Kirchner. She is Argentina's first elected female president, and the second female president ever to serve...

 in Argentina, Tabaré Vázquez
Tabaré Vázquez
Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas is a former President of Uruguay. A physician by training, he is a member of the leftist Frente Amplo coalition . Vázquez was elected president on October 31, 2004, took office on March 1, 2005, and relinquished the office on March 1, 2010...

 and José Mujica
José Mujica
José Alberto "Pepe" Mujica Cordano is a Uruguayan politician and former guerrilla fighter, a member of the Broad Front and current President of Uruguay....

 in Uruguay, the Ricardo Lagos
Ricardo Lagos
Ricardo Froilán Lagos Escobar is a lawyer, economist and social democrat politician, who served as president of Chile from 2000 to 2006. He won the 1999-2000 presidential election by a narrow margin in a runoff over Independent Democrat Union candidate Joaquín Lavín...

 and Michelle Bachelet
Michelle Bachelet
Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria is a Social Democrat politician who was President of Chile from 11 March 2006 to 11 March 2010. She was the first woman president of her country...

 governments in Chile, Evo Morales
Evo Morales
Juan Evo Morales Ayma , popularly known as Evo , is a Bolivian politician and activist, currently serving as the 80th President of Bolivia, a position that he has held since 2006. He is also the leader of both the Movement for Socialism party and the cocalero trade union...

 in Bolivia, Daniel Ortega
Daniel Ortega
José Daniel Ortega Saavedra is a Nicaraguan politician and revolutionary, currently serving as the 83rd President of Nicaragua, a position that he has held since 2007. He previously served as the 79th President, between 1985 and 1990, and for much of his life, has been a leader in the Sandinista...

 in Nicaragua, Manuel Zelaya
Manuel Zelaya
José Manuel Zelaya Rosales is a politician who was President of Honduras from January 27, 2006 until June 28, 2009. The eldest son of a wealthy businessman, he inherited his father's nickname "Mel," and, before entering politics, was involved in his family's logging and timber businesses.Elected...

 in Honduras, Rafael Correa
Rafael Correa
Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado born is the President of the Republic of Ecuador and was the president pro tempore of the Union of South American Nations. An economist educated in Ecuador, Belgium and the United States, he was elected President in late 2006 and took office in January 2007...

 in Ecuador, and Mauricio Funes
Mauricio Funes
Carlos Mauricio Funes Cartagena is the President of El Salvador. He won the 2009 presidential election as the candidate of the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front political party and took office on 1 June 2009.-Biography:Funes is married to Dr. Vanada Pignado, who was involved in...

 of El Salvador, are all part of this wave of left-wing politicians who also often declare themselves socialists
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

, Latin Americanists
Latin American integration
The integration of Latin America has a history going back to Spanish American and Brazilian independence, when there was discussion of creating a regional state or confederation of Latin American nations to protect the area's newly won autonomy...

, or anti-imperialists
Anti-imperialism
Anti-imperialism, strictly speaking, is a term that may be applied to a movement opposed to any form of colonialism or imperialism. Anti-imperialism includes opposition to wars of conquest, particularly of non-contiguous territory or people with a different language or culture; it also includes...

 (often implying opposition to US policies towards the region
Washington Consensus
The term Washington Consensus was coined in 1989 by the economist John Williamson to describe a set of ten relatively specific economic policy prescriptions that he considered constituted the "standard" reform package promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries...

). A development of this has been the creation of the eight-member ALBA alliance, or "The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America" (Spanish: Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América).

Demographics


Ethnic groups


The inhabitants of Latin America are of a variety of ancestries, ethnic groups, and races, making the region one of the most diverse in the world. The specific composition varies from country to country: many have a predominance of European-Amerindian, or Mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

, population; in others, Amerindians
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 are a majority; some are dominated by inhabitants of European
White Latin American
White Latin Americans are the people of Latin America who are white in the racial classification systems used in individual Latin American countries. Persons who are classified as White in one Latin American country may be classified differently in another country...

 ancestry; and some countries' populations are primarily Mulatto
Mulatto
Mulatto denotes a person with one white parent and one black parent, or more broadly, a person of mixed black and white ancestry. Contemporary usage of the term varies greatly, and the broader sense of the term makes its application rather subjective, as not all people of mixed white and black...

. Black
Afro-Latin American
An Afro-Latin American is a Latin American person of at least partial Black African ancestry; the term may also refer to historical or cultural elements in Latin America thought to emanate from this community...

, Asian, and Zambo
Zambo
Zambo or Cafuzo are racial terms used in the Spanish and Portuguese Empires and occasionally today to identify individuals in the Americas who are of mixed African and Amerindian ancestry...

(mixed Black and Amerindian) minorities are also identified regularly. Europeans/Whites are the largest single group, and along with people of part-European ancestry, they combine to make up approximately 80% of the population, or even more.

In terms of culture, society, and national identity, Mario Sambarino classified Latin American states, based on Elman Service's classification, into "Mestiza America" (Paraguay, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Colombia), "Indigenous America" (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico) and "European America" (Argentina and Uruguay). In Darcy Ribeiro
Darcy Ribeiro
Darcy Ribeiro was a Brazilian anthropologist, author and politician. Darcy Ribeiro's ideas of Latin American identity have influenced several later scholars of Latin American studies...

's classification system, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay, and the Caribbean are classified as predominantly "new peoples", which emerged from the fusion of Europeans, Amerindians and/or Africans; Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Central America and Mexico are predominantly "witness peoples", the heirs of ancient civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

s (Andean
Inca civilization
The Andean civilizations made up a loose patchwork of different cultures that developed from the highlands of Colombia to the Atacama Desert. The Andean civilizations are mainly based on the cultures of Ancient Peru and some others such as Tiahuanaco. The Inca Empire was the last sovereign...

 and Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

n), while Argentina and Uruguay are "transplantated peoples", essentially European after massive immigration in the 19th century. However, under this scheme most Brazilian Amazon
Amazônia Legal
Amazônia Legal is the largest socio-geographic division of the South American nation of Brazil, which contains all of its territory in the Amazon Basin...

 peoples can be regarded as "Witness Peoples", in the same way as Peruvian Amazon
Peruvian Amazon
The Peruvian Amazon is the area of the Amazon jungle included in the territory of Peru, from the east of the Andes to borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia. This region comprises 60% of the country and is marked by a large degree of biodiversity...

 peoples; most Southern Brazilian peoples, i.e., Riograndenses
Rio Grande do Sul
Rio Grande do Sul is the southernmost state in Brazil, and the state with the fifth highest Human Development Index in the country. In this state is located the southernmost city in the country, Chuí, on the border with Uruguay. In the region of Bento Gonçalves and Caxias do Sul, the largest wine...

, can be considered "Transplanted peoples" like those of the very similar cultures of neighboring Uruguay and Argentina; and so on.

Language


Spanish and Portuguese are the predominant languages of Latin America. Portuguese is spoken only in Brazil, the biggest and most populous country in the region. Spanish is the official language of most of the rest of the countries on the Latin American mainland, as well as in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 (where it is co-official with English), and the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

. French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 is spoken in Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 and in the French overseas departments Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe is an archipelago located in the Leeward Islands, in the Lesser Antilles, with a land area of 1,628 square kilometres and a population of 400,000. It is the first overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. As with the other overseas departments, Guadeloupe...

, Martinique
Martinique
Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of . Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. To the northwest lies Dominica, to the south St Lucia, and to the southeast Barbados...

, French Guiana
French Guiana
French Guiana is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department located on the northern Atlantic coast of South America. It has borders with two nations, Brazil to the east and south, and Suriname to the west...

, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon; it is also spoken by some Panamanians of Afro-Antillean descent. Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 is the official language in Suriname
Suriname
Suriname , officially the Republic of Suriname , is a country in northern South America. It borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean. Suriname was a former colony of the British and of the Dutch, and was previously known as...

, Aruba
Aruba
Aruba is a 33 km-long island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, located 27 km north of the coast of Venezuela and 130 km east of Guajira Peninsula...

, and the Netherlands Antilles
Netherlands Antilles
The Netherlands Antilles , also referred to informally as the Dutch Antilles, was an autonomous Caribbean country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, consisting of two groups of islands in the Lesser Antilles: Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao , in Leeward Antilles just off the Venezuelan coast; and Sint...

. (As Dutch is a Germanic language
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

, these territories are not necessarily considered part of Latin America.)

Native American languages are widely spoken in Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

, Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

, and to a lesser degree, in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

, Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, and Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

. In Latin American countries not named above, the population of speakers of indigenous languages is either small or non-existent.

In Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, Quechua
Quechua languages
Quechua is a Native South American language family and dialect cluster spoken primarily in the Andes of South America, derived from an original common ancestor language, Proto-Quechua. It is the most widely spoken language family of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, with a total of probably...

 is an official language, alongside Spanish and any other indigenous language in the areas where they predominate. In Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, while holding no official status, the closely related Quichua is a recognized language of the indigenous people under the country's constitution; however, it is only spoken by a few groups in the country's highlands. In Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

, Aymara
Aymara language
Aymara is an Aymaran language spoken by the Aymara people of the Andes. It is one of only a handful of Native American languages with over three million speakers. Aymara, along with Quechua and Spanish, is an official language of Peru and Bolivia...

, Quechua and Guaraní hold official status alongside Spanish. Guaraní
Guaraní language
Guaraní, specifically the primary variety known as Paraguayan Guaraní , is an indigenous language of South America that belongs to the Tupí–Guaraní subfamily of the Tupian languages. It is one of the official languages of Paraguay , where it is spoken by the majority of the population, and half of...

, along with Spanish, is an official language of Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

, and is spoken by a majority of the population (who are, for the most part, bilingual), and it is co-official with Spanish in the Argentine
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 province of Corrientes
Corrientes
Corrientes is the capital city of the province of Corrientes, Argentina, located on the eastern shore of the Paraná River, about from Buenos Aires and from Posadas, on National Route 12...

. In Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

, Spanish is the official language, but on the country's Caribbean coast English and indigenous languages such as Miskito
Miskito language
Miskito is a Misumalpan language spoken by the Miskito people in northeastern Nicaragua, especially in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region, and in eastern Honduras....

, Sumo
Sumo language
Sumo is the collective name for a group of Misumalpan languages spoken in Nicaragua and Honduras. Hale & Salamanca classifies the Sumu languages into a northern Mayangna, composed of the Twahka and Panamahka dialects, and southern Ulwa...

, and Rama
Rama language
Rama is one of the indigenous languages of the Chibchan family spoken by the Rama people on the island of Rama Cay and south of lake Bluefields on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. Other indigenous languages of this region include Miskito and Sumu . Rama is one of the northernmost languages of the...

 also hold official status. Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 recognizes all indigenous languages spoken within its territory as official, though fewer than 1% of its population are native speakers of these languages. Nahuatl
Nahuatl
Nahuatl is thought to mean "a good, clear sound" This language name has several spellings, among them náhuatl , Naoatl, Nauatl, Nahuatl, Nawatl. In a back formation from the name of the language, the ethnic group of Nahuatl speakers are called Nahua...

 is one of the 62 native languages spoken by indigenous people in Mexico, which are officially recognized by the government as "national languages" along with Spanish.

Other European languages spoken in Latin America include: English, by some groups in Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

, Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

, and Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, as well as in nearby countries that may or may not be considered Latin American, like Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

 and Guyana
Guyana
Guyana , officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and of the British...

 (English is used as a major foreign language in Latin American commerce and education); German, in southern Brazil, southern Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, Argentina, portions of northern Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, and Paraguay; Italian, in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

, and Venezuela; and Welsh, in southern Argentina.

In several nations, especially in the Caribbean region, creole languages are spoken. The most widely spoken creole language in Latin America and the Caribbean is Haitian Creole, the predominant language of Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

; it is derived primarily from French and certain West African tongues with some Amerindian and Spanish influences as well. Creole languages of mainland Latin America, similarly, are derived from European languages and various African tongues.

Religion




The vast majority of Latin Americans are Christians
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, mostly Roman Catholics
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

. About 70% of the Latin American population consider themselves Catholic. Membership in Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 denominations is increasing, particularly in northern Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

Migration


Due to economic, social and security developments that are affecting the region in recent decades, the focus is now the change from net immigration to net emigration
Emigration
Emigration is the act of leaving one's country or region to settle in another. It is the same as immigration but from the perspective of the country of origin. Human movement before the establishment of political boundaries or within one state is termed migration. There are many reasons why people...

. About 10 million Mexicans live in the United States. 28.3 million Americans listed their ancestry as Mexican as of 2006. According to the 2005 Colombian census or DANE, about 3,331,107 Colombians currently live abroad. The number of Brazilians living overseas is estimated at about 2 million people. An estimated 1.5 to two million Salvadorans reside in the United States. At least 1.5 million Ecuadorians have gone abroad, mainly to the United States and Spain. Approximately 1.5 million Dominicans live abroad, mostly in the United States. More than 1.3 million Cubans live abroad, most of them in the United States. It is estimated that over 800,000 Chileans live abroad, mainly in Argentina, Canada, United States and Spain. Other Chilean nationals may be located in countries like Costa Rica, Mexico and Sweden. An estimated 700,000 Bolivians were living in Argentina as of 2006 and another 33,000 in the United States. Central Americans living abroad in 2005 were 3,314,300, of which 1,128,701 were Salvadorans
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

, 685,713 were Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

ns, 683,520 were Nicaraguans, 414,955 were Hondurans
Hondurans
Hondurans are people inhabiting in, originating or having significant heritage from Honduras. Most Hondurans live in Honduras, although there is also a significant Honduran diaspora, particularly in the United States with smaller communities in other countries around the world...

, 215,240 were Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

nians, 127,061 were Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

ns and 59,110 were Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

ans.

For the period 2000–2005, Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, and Venezuela were the only countries with global positive migration rates, in terms of their yearly averages.

Education




Despite significant progress, education coverage remains unequal in Latin America. The region has made great progress in educational coverage; almost all children attend primary school and access to secondary education has increased considerably. Most educational systems in the region have implemented various types of administrative and institutional reforms that have enabled reach for places and communities that had no access to education services in the early 90's.

However, there are still 23 million children in the region between the ages of 4 and 17 outside of the formal education system. Estimates indicate that 30% of preschool age children (ages 4 –5) do not attend school, and for the most vulnerable populations, the poor and rural, - this calculation exceeds 40 percent. Among primary school age children (ages 6 to 12), coverage is almost universal; however there is still a need to incorporate 5 million children in the primary education system. These children live mostly in remote areas, are indigenous or Afro-descendants and live in extreme poverty.

Among people between the ages of 13 and 17 years, only 80% are full time students in the education system; among them only 66% advance to secondary school. These percentages are lower among vulnerable population groups: only 75% of the poorest youth between the ages of 13 and 17 years attend school. Tertiary education has the lowest coverage, with only 70% of people between the ages of 18 and 25 years outside of the education system. Currently, more than half of low income children or living in rural areas fail to complete nine years of education.

Crime and violence


Crime and violence prevention and public security are now important issues for governments and citizens in Latin America and the Caribbean region. In 2004, violence was the main cause of death in Brazil, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

, El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

. Homicide rates in Latin America are among the highest in the world. From the early 1980s through the mid-1990s, homicide rates increased by 50 percent. The major victims of such homicides are young men, 69 percent of whom are between the ages of 15 and 19 years old. Many analysts agree that the prison crisis will not be resolved until the gap between rich and poor is addressed. They say that growing social inequality
Social inequality
Social inequality refers to a situation in which individual groups in a society do not have equal social status. Areas of potential social inequality include voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, the extent of property rights and access to education, health care, quality housing and other...

 is fuelling crime in the region. But there is also no doubt that, on such an approach, Latin American countries still have a long way to go. Countries with the highest homicide rate per year per 100,000 inhabitants were: Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

 57.9, El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador or simply Salvador is the smallest and the most densely populated country in Central America. The country's capital city and largest city is San Salvador; Santa Ana and San Miguel are also important cultural and commercial centers in the country and in all of Central America...

 49.1, Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 48, Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

 59, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 33, Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

 30.8, Brazil 25.7, Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

 23.56, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 18.8, and Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 16.9. More than 500,000 people have been killed by firearms in Brazil between 1979 and 2003. Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 has the lowest crime rate in the western hemisphere. Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

 is often regarded as the safest large city in the Western Hemisphere. Countries with relatively low crime are Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay.

Standard of living, consumption, and the environment



According to Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is an American multinational bulge bracket investment banking and securities firm that engages in global investment banking, securities, investment management, and other financial services primarily with institutional clients...

' BRIC
BRIC
In economics, BRIC is a grouping acronym that refers to the countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, which are all deemed to be at a similar stage of newly advanced economic development...

 review of emerging economies, by 2050 the largest economies in the world will be as follows: China, United States, India, Brazil, and Mexico. On a per capita basis most Latin American countries, including the largest ones (Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia), have per capita GDPs greater than that of China in 2009. As of 2010 Latin America included five nations classified as high-income countries: Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

.

The following table lists all the countries in Latin America indicating a valuation of the country's GDP (Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

) based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

), GDP per capita also adjusted to the (PPP), a measurement of inequality through the Gini index (the higher the index the more unequal the income distribution is), the Human Development Index
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

 (HDI), the Environmental Performance Index
Environmental Performance Index
The Environmental Performance Index is a method of quantifying and numerically benchmarking the environmental performance of a country's policies. This index was developed from the Pilot Environmental Performance Index, first published in 2002, and designed to supplement the environmental targets...

 (EPI), and the Quality-of-life index
Quality-of-life index
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality-of-life index is based on a unique methodology that links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys to the objective determinants of quality of life across countries...

. GDP and PPP GDP statistics come from the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 with data as of 2006. Gini index, the Human Poverty Index
Human Poverty Index
The Human Poverty Index is an indication of the standard of living in a country, developed by the United Nations . For highly developed countries, the UN considers that it can better reflect the extent of deprivation compared to the Human Development Index....

 HDI-1, the Human Development Index
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

, and the number of internet users per capita come from the UN Development Program. The number of motor vehicles per capita come from the UNData base on-line. The EPI index comes from the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy
Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy
The Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy is a joint initiative between the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Yale Law School.-Mission:...

 and the Quality-of-life index
Quality-of-life index
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s quality-of-life index is based on a unique methodology that links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys to the objective determinants of quality of life across countries...

 from The Economist
The Economist
The Economist is an English-language weekly news and international affairs publication owned by The Economist Newspaper Ltd. and edited in offices in the City of Westminster, London, England. Continuous publication began under founder James Wilson in September 1843...

 Intelligence Unit. Green cells indicate the 1st rank in each category, while yellow indicate the last rank.
Summary of socio-economic performance indicators for Latin American countries
Country GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 (PPP
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

)
(2010 estimates)

Billions
of USD
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

GDP per
capita
(PPP)
(2010 estimates)

USD
Income
equality
(2000–2010)

Gini index
Poverty
Index
(2009)

HPI-1
Human Poverty Index
The Human Poverty Index is an indication of the standard of living in a country, developed by the United Nations . For highly developed countries, the UN considers that it can better reflect the extent of deprivation compared to the Human Development Index....

 %
Human
Develop.
(2011)

HDI
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

Envirnm.
Perform.
(2010)

EPI
Environmental Performance Index
The Environmental Performance Index is a method of quantifying and numerically benchmarking the environmental performance of a country's policies. This index was developed from the Pilot Environmental Performance Index, first published in 2002, and designed to supplement the environmental targets...

Real GDP
growth
(2010)
%
Emissions
per
capita
(2008)
ton CO2
632.223 15,603 48.8 3.7 0.797 (VH) 61.0 7.5 4.4
47.796 4,584 57.2 11.6 0.663 (M) 44.3 4.0 1.3
2,181.677 11,289 55.0 8.7 0.718 (H) 63.4 7.5 1.9
257.546 14,982 52.0 3.2 bgcolor=#ccffcc> 0.805 (VH) 73.3 5.0 4.4
429.866 9,445 58.5 7.6 0.710 (H) 76.8 4.7 1.4
51.130 10,732 48.9 4.6 0.744 (H) 86.4 3.8 1.5
111.1 9,700 4.7 0.776 (H) 78.1 1.4 2.7
85.391 8,648 48.4 9.1 0.689 (M) 68.4 5.5 2.0
113.825 7,952 54.4 7.9 0.720 (H) 69.3 2.9 1.9
43.640 7,442 46.9 14.6 0.674 (M) 69.1 1.0 1.0
69.958 4,871 53.7 19.7 0.574 (M) 54.0 2.4 0.8
11.056 1,122 59.5 31.5 0.454 (L) 39.5 -8.5 0.2
33.537 4,405 55.3 13.7 0.625 (M) 49.9 2.4 1.1
1,549.671 14,266 69.3 31.9 0.437 (L) 17.3 -5.0 3.8
17.269 2,970 52.3 17.0 0.589 (M) 57.1 3.0 0.7
43.725 12,398 54.9 6.7 0.768 (H) 71.4 6.2 1.9
31.469 4,915 53.2 10.5 0.665 (M) 63.5 9.0 0.6
274.276 9,281 50.5 10.2 0.725 (H) 69.3 8.3 1.2
48.140 14,342 47.1 3.0 0.783 (H) 59.1 8.5 2.3
346.973 11,889 43.4 6.6 0.735 (H) 62.9 -1.3 5.2
Total 6,270.231 11,119 10.1 76.2 4 2.3

Notes: (H) High human development; (M) Medium human development; (L) Low human development

Poverty and Inequality


Poverty continues to be one of the region's main challenges; according to the ECLAC, Latin America is the most unequal region in the world. Inequality is undermining the region's economic potential and the well-being of its population, since it increases poverty and reduces the impact of economic development on poverty reduction.
Inequality in Latin America has deep historical roots that have been difficult to eradicate since the differences between initial endowments and opportunitites among social groups have constrained the poorest's social mobility, thus making poverty to be transmitted from generation to generation, becoming a vicious cycle. High inequality is rooted in exclusionary institutions that have been perpetuated ever since colonial times and that have survived different political and economic regimes. Inequality has been reproduced and transmitted through generations because Latin American political systems allow a differentiated access on the influence that social groups have in the decision making process, and it responds in different ways to the least favored groups that have less political representation and capacity of pressure. Recent economic liberalisation also plays a role as not everyone is equally capable
Equity (economics)
Equity is the concept or idea of fairness in economics, particularly as to taxation or welfare economics. More specifically it may refer to equal life chances regardless of identity, to provide all citizens with a basic minimum of income/goods/services or to increase funds and commitment for...

 of taking advantage of its benefits. Differences in opportunities and endowments tend to be based on race, ethnicity, rurality and gender
Gender inequality
Gender inequality refers to disparity between individuals due to gender. Gender is constructed both socially through social interactions as well as biologically through chromosomes, brain structure, and hormonal differences. Gender systems are often dichotomous and hierarchical; binary gender...

. Those differences have a strong impact on the distribution of income, capital and political standing.

According to a study by the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

,the richest decile of the population of Latin America earn 48% of the total income, while the poorest 10% of the population earn only 1.6% of the income. In contrast, in developed countries, the top decile receives 29% of the total income, while the bottom decile earns 2.5%. The countries with the highest inequality in the region (as measured with the Gini index in the UN Development Report) in 2007 were Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 (59.5), Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 (58.5), Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

 (58.2), Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

 (55.3), Brazil (55.0), and Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 (54.9), while the countries with the lowest inequality in the region were Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 (43.4), Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

 (46.4) and Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica , officially the Republic of Costa Rica is a multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east....

 (47.2).

According to the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 the poorest countries in the region were (as of 2008): Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

, Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

, Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

 and Honduras
Honduras
Honduras is a republic in Central America. It was previously known as Spanish Honduras to differentiate it from British Honduras, which became the modern-day state of Belize...

. Undernourishment affects to 47% of Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

ans, 27% of Nicaraguans, 23% of Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

ns and 22% of Hondurans
Hondurans
Hondurans are people inhabiting in, originating or having significant heritage from Honduras. Most Hondurans live in Honduras, although there is also a significant Honduran diaspora, particularly in the United States with smaller communities in other countries around the world...

.

Many countries in Latin America have responded to high levels of poverty by implementing new, or altering old, social assistance programs such as conditional cash transfers. These include Mexico's , Brazil's Bolsa Escola and Bolsa Familia
Bolsa Família
Bolsa Família is a social welfare program of the Brazilian government, part of the Fome Zero network of federal assistance programs. Bolsa Família provides financial aid to poor Brazilian families; if they have children, families must ensure that the infants attend school and are vaccinated...

, and Chile's Chile Solidario. In general, these programs provide money to poor families under the condition that those transfers are used as an investment on their children's human capital, such as regular school attendance and basic preventive health care. The purpose of these programs is to address the inter-generational transmission of poverty and to foster social inclusion by explicitly targeting the poor, focusing on children, delivering transfers to women, and changing social accountability relationships between beneficiaries, service providers and governments. These programs have helped to increase school enrollment and attendance and they also have shown improvements in children's health conditions. Most of these transfer schemes are now benefiting around 110 million people in the region and are considered relatively cheap, costing around 0.5% of their GDP.

Trade blocs


The major trade blocs (or agreements) in the region are the Union of South American Nations, composed of the integrated Mercosur
Mercosur
Mercosur or Mercosul is an economic and political agreement among Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Founded in 1991 by the Treaty of Asunción, which was later amended and updated by the 1994 Treaty of Ouro Preto. Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people,...

 and Andean Community of Nations
Andean Community of Nations
The Andean Community is a customs union comprising the South American countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The trade bloc was called the Andean Pact until 1996 and came into existence with the signing of the Cartagena Agreement in 1969...

 (CAN). Minor blocs or trade agreements are the G3 Free Trade Agreement
G3 Free Trade Agreement
The G-3 is a free trade agreement between Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela that came into effect on January 1, 1995, which created an extended market of 149 million consumers with a combined GDP of US$486.5 billion. The agreement states a ten percent tariff reduction over ten years for the trade...

, the Dominican Republic – Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) and the Caribbean Community
Caribbean Community
The Caribbean Community is an organisation of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies. CARICOM's main purposes are to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, to ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared, and to coordinate foreign policy...

 (CARICOM). However, major reconfigurations are taking place along opposing approaches to integration and trade; Venezuela has officially withdrawn from both the CAN and G3 and it has been formally admitted into the Mercosur (pending ratification from the Paraguayan legislature). The president-elect of Ecuador has manifested his intentions of following the same path. This bloc nominally opposes any Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States, although Uruguay has manifested its intention otherwise. On the other hand, Mexico is a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement
North American Free Trade Agreement
The North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA is an agreement signed by the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994. It superseded the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement...

 (NAFTA). Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 has already signed an FTA with Canada, and along with Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 are the only two South American nations that have an FTA with the United States. Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

's government is currently awaiting its ratification by the U.S. Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

.

Metropolitan economies


The following table provides estimated GDP figures for the largest metropolitan area
Metropolitan area
The term metropolitan area refers to a region consisting of a densely populated urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories, sharing industry, infrastructure, and housing. A metropolitan area usually encompasses multiple jurisdictions and municipalities: neighborhoods, townships,...

s in Latin America in 2008.
Rank Metropolitan
area
Country GDP (PPP)
Billions of USD
Metro. pop.
in 2006
Millions
GDP (PPP)
per capita
USD
1 Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

 
390 19.24 20,300
2 São Paulo
São Paulo
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and South America, and the world's seventh largest city by population. The metropolis is anchor to the São Paulo metropolitan area, ranked as the second-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas and among...

 
388 18.61 20,800
3 Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

 
362 13.52 28,000
4 Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

 
201 11.62 17,300
5 Santiago
Santiago, Chile
Santiago , also known as Santiago de Chile, is the capital and largest city of Chile, and the center of its largest conurbation . It is located in the country's central valley, at an elevation of above mean sea level...

 
120 5.70 21,100
6 Bogotá
Bogotá
Bogotá, Distrito Capital , from 1991 to 2000 called Santa Fé de Bogotá, is the capital, and largest city, of Colombia. It is also designated by the national constitution as the capital of the department of Cundinamarca, even though the city of Bogotá now comprises an independent Capital district...

 
112 7.80 15,800
7 Brasilia
Brasília
Brasília is the capital city of Brazil. The name is commonly spelled Brasilia in English. The city and its District are located in the Central-West region of the country, along a plateau known as Planalto Central. It has a population of about 2,557,000 as of the 2008 IBGE estimate, making it the...

 
110 3.48 31,600
8 Lima
Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

 
109 8.35 13,100
9 Monterrey
Monterrey
Monterrey , is the capital city of the northeastern state of Nuevo León in the country of Mexico. The city is anchor to the third-largest metropolitan area in Mexico and is ranked as the ninth-largest city in the nation. Monterrey serves as a commercial center in the north of the country and is the...

 
102 3.58 28,500
10 Guadalajara
Guadalajara
Guadalajara may refer to:In Mexico:*Guadalajara, Jalisco, the capital of the state of Jalisco and second largest city in Mexico**Guadalajara Metropolitan Area*University of Guadalajara, a public university in Guadalajara, Jalisco...

 
81 3.95 20,500

Note: The GDP data are for 2008 while the population data are for 2006. The GDP per capita figures were obtained by dividing these two sets of data, so the results may not accurately reflect the GDP per capita for 2008.

Tourism



Income from tourism is key to the economy of several Latin American countries. Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 receives the largest number of international tourists, with 22.3 million visitors in 2010, followed by Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, with 5.2 million in 2010; Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, with 5.1 million; Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, with 4.1 million;, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, with 3.6 million and Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 with 2.7 million. Places such as Cancún
Cancún
Cancún is a city of international tourism development certified by the UNWTO . Located on the northeast coast of Quintana Roo in southern Mexico, more than 1,700 km from Mexico City, the Project began operations in 1974 as Integrally Planned Center, a pioneer of FONATUR Cancún is a city of...

, Galápagos Islands
Galápagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part.The Galápagos Islands and its surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a...

, Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian 15th-century Inca site located above sea level. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is northwest of Cusco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for...

, Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the Municipality of Tinúm, Yucatán state, present-day Mexico....

, Cartagena de Indias
Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena de Indias , is a large Caribbean beach resort city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region and capital of Bolívar Department...

, Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas , commonly called Cabo, is a city at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, in the municipality of Los Cabos in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. As of the 2010 census, the population was 68,463 people...

, Acapulco
Acapulco
Acapulco is a city, municipality and major sea port in the state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast of Mexico, southwest from Mexico City. Acapulco is located on a deep, semi-circular bay and has been a port since the early colonial period of Mexico’s history...

, Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

, Salvador, Margarita Island, São Paulo
São Paulo
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and South America, and the world's seventh largest city by population. The metropolis is anchor to the São Paulo metropolitan area, ranked as the second-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas and among...

, Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni
Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt flat at . It is located in the Potosí and Oruro departments in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes, and is elevated above the mean sea level. The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes...

, Punta del Este
Punta del Este
Punta del Este is a resort town on the Atlantic Coast in the Maldonado Department of southeastern Uruguay. It is located on the intersection of Route 10 with Route 39, directly southeast of the department capital Maldonado and about east of Montevideo...

, Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo, known officially as Santo Domingo de Guzmán, is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic. Its metropolitan population was 2,084,852 in 2003, and estimated at 3,294,385 in 2010. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, at the mouth of the Ozama River...

, Labadee
Labadee
Labadee is a port located on the northern coast of Haiti. It is a private resort leased to Royal Caribbean International. Royal Caribbean International has contributed the largest proportion of tourist revenue to Haiti since 1986, employing 300 locals, allowing another 200 to sell their wares on...

, San Juan
San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan , officially Municipio de la Ciudad Capital San Juan Bautista , is the capital and most populous municipality in Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 395,326 making it the 46th-largest city under the jurisdiction of...

, La Habana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

, Panama City
Panama City
Panama is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Panama. It has a population of 880,691, with a total metro population of 1,272,672, and it is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, in the province of the same name. The city is the political and administrative center of the...

, Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls, Iguassu Falls, or Iguaçu Falls are waterfalls of the Iguazu River located on the border of the Brazilian State of Paraná and the Argentine Province of Misiones. The falls divide the river into the upper and lower Iguazu. The Iguazu River originates near the city of Curitiba. It flows...

, Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican balneario resort city situated on the Pacific Ocean's Bahía de Banderas.The 2010 census reported Puerto Vallarta's population as 255,725 making it the sixth-largest city in the state of Jalisco...

, Poás Volcano National Park
Poás Volcano National Park
Poás Volcano National Park, in Spanish , is a National Park that covers an area of approximately ; the summit is . One of the attractive features about Poás is that you can get all the way to the edge of the crater...

, Punta Cana
Punta Cana
Punta Cana is part of the newly created Punta Cana-Bávaro-Veron-Macao municipal district in La Altagracia, the easternmost province of the Dominican Republic. The area is best known for its beaches and balnearios, which face both the Caribbean and Atlantic, and it has been a popular tourist...

, Viña del Mar
Viña del Mar
Viña del Mar , is a city and commune on central Chile's Pacific coast. Its long stretches of white sandy beaches are a major attraction for national and international tourists. The city is Chile's main tourist attraction. Known as "La Ciudad Jardín" , Viña del Mar is a Chilean Municipality located...

, Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

, Quito
Quito
San Francisco de Quito, most often called Quito , is the capital city of Ecuador in northwestern South America. It is located in north-central Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes mountains...

, Bogotá
Bogotá
Bogotá, Distrito Capital , from 1991 to 2000 called Santa Fé de Bogotá, is the capital, and largest city, of Colombia. It is also designated by the national constitution as the capital of the department of Cundinamarca, even though the city of Bogotá now comprises an independent Capital district...

, Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

, Lima
Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima...

, Maceió
Maceió
Maceió is the capital and the largest city of the coastal state Alagoas, Brazil. The name "maceió" is of Indian origin, and designates the natural spontaneously courses of water which flow out of the soil...

, Florianópolis
Florianópolis
-Climate:Florianópolis experiences a warm humid subtropical climate, falling just short of a true tropical climate. The seasons of the year are distinct, with a well-defined summer and winter, and characteristic weather for autumn and spring. Frost is infrequent, but occurs occasionally in the winter...

, Cuzco and Patagonia
Patagonia
Patagonia is a region located in Argentina and Chile, integrating the southernmost section of the Andes mountains to the southwest towards the Pacific ocean and from the east of the cordillera to the valleys it follows south through Colorado River towards Carmen de Patagones in the Atlantic Ocean...

 are popular among international visitors in the region.
Performance indicators for international tourism in Latin America
Country International
tourist
arrivals
2010
x1000
International
tourism
receipts
2010
Millions of USD
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

Receipts per
arrival (2)/(1)
2010
(USD/Tourist)
Receipts
per capita
2009
USD
Revenues as %
of exports
goods and
services
2003
Tourism
revenues
as %
GDP 
2003
% Direct &
indirect
employment
in tourism
2005
World
Ranking
Tourism
Compet.
TTCI
Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report was first published in 2007 by the World Economic Forum. The 2007 report covered 124 major and emerging economies. The 2008 report covered 130 countries,, the 2009 report expanded to 133 countries, and the 2011 report to 139 countries...


2011
Index
value
TTCI
Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report was first published in 2007 by the World Economic Forum. The 2007 report covered 124 major and emerging economies. The 2008 report covered 130 countries,, the 2009 report expanded to 133 countries, and the 2011 report to 139 countries...


2011
5,288 4,930 932 120 7.4 1.8 9.1 60 4.20
671* 279* 415 28 9.4 2.2 7.6 117 3.35
5,161 5,919 1,146 29 3.2 0.5 7.0 52 4.36
2,766 1,636 591 98 5.3 1.9 6.8 57 4.27
2,385 2,083 873 47 6.6 1.4 5.9 77 3.94
2,100 2,111 1,005 496 17.5 8.1 13.3 44 4.43
2,507 2,080* 829* 181*
4,125 4,240 1,027 439 36.2 18.8 19.8 72 3.99
1,047 781 745 53 6.3 1.5 7.4 87 3.79
1,150 390 339 54 12.9 3.4 6.8 96 3.68
1,219 1,378 1,130 103 16.0 2.6 6.0 86 3.82
* 19.4 3.2 4.7
896 650 725 82 13.5 5.0 8.5 88 3.79
22,395 11,872 530 106 5.7 1.6 14.2 43 4.43
1,011 309 305 52 15.5 3.7 5.6 100 3.56
1,317 1,676 1,272 498 10.6 6.3 12.9 56 4.30
465 217 466 31 4.2 1.3 6.4 123 3.26
2,299 2,274 989 76 9.0 1.6 7.6 69 4.04
2,352 1,496 636 428 14.2 3.6 10.7 58 4.24
615* 618 1,004 23 1.3 0.4 8.1 106 3.46

  • Note (1): Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba, marked with * do not have all statistical data available for 2010. Data shown is for 2009
  • Note (3): Green shadow denotes the country with the best indicator. Yellow shadow denotes the country with the lowest performance for that indicator.

Culture


Latin American culture is a mixture of many cultural expressions worldwide. It is the product of many diverse influences:
  • Indigenous
    Indigenous peoples of the Americas
    The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

     cultures of the people who inhabited the continent prior to the arrival of the Europeans. Ancient and very advanced civilizations developed their own political, social and religious systems. The Maya
    Maya civilization
    The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

    , the Aztec
    Aztec
    The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.Aztec is the...

    s and the Incas
    Inca civilization
    The Andean civilizations made up a loose patchwork of different cultures that developed from the highlands of Colombia to the Atacama Desert. The Andean civilizations are mainly based on the cultures of Ancient Peru and some others such as Tiahuanaco. The Inca Empire was the last sovereign...

     are examples of these.
  • Western civilization
    Western culture
    Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

    , in particular the culture of Europe
    Culture of Europe
    The culture of Europe might better be described as a series of overlapping cultures. Whether it is a question of North as opposed to South; West as opposed to East; Orthodoxism as opposed to Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism as opposed to Secularism; many have claimed to identify cultural...

    , was brought mainly by the colonial powers—the Spanish
    Spanish people
    The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

    , Portuguese
    Portuguese people
    The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

     and French
    French people
    The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

    —between the 16th and 19th centuries. The most enduring European colonial influence is language and Roman Catholicism. More recently, additional cultural influences came from the United States and Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, due to the growing influence of the former on the world stage and immigration from the latter. The influence of the United States is particularly strong in northern Latin America, especially Puerto Rico, which is a United States territory. In addition, the United States held the twenty-mile-long Panama Canal Zone
    Panama Canal Zone
    The Panama Canal Zone was a unorganized U.S. territory located within the Republic of Panama, consisting of the Panama Canal and an area generally extending 5 miles on each side of the centerline, but excluding Panama City and Colón, which otherwise would have been partly within the limits of...

     in Panama from 1903 (the Panama Canal
    Panama Canal
    The Panama Canal is a ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. Built from 1904 to 1914, the canal has seen annual traffic rise from about 1,000 ships early on to 14,702 vessels measuring a total of 309.6...

     opened to transoceanic freight traffic in 1914) to 1999, when the Torrijos-Carter Treaties
    Torrijos-Carter Treaties
    The Torrijos–Carter Treaties are two treaties signed by the United States and Panama in Washington, D.C., on September 7, 1977, which abrogated the Hay-Bunau Varilla Treaty of 1903...

     restored Panamanian control of the Canal Zone. South America experienced waves of immigration of Europeans, especially Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese and Germans. With the end of colonialism, French culture
    Culture of France
    The culture of France and of the French people has been shaped by geography, by profound historical events, and by foreign and internal forces and groups. France, and in particular Paris, has played an important role as a center of high culture and of decorative arts since the seventeenth...

     was also able to exert a direct influence in Latin America, especially in the realms of high culture
    High culture
    High culture is a term, now used in a number of different ways in academic discourse, whose most common meaning is the set of cultural products, mainly in the arts, held in the highest esteem by a culture...

    , science and medicine. This can be seen in any expression of the region's artistic traditions, including painting, literature and music, and in the realms of science and politics.
  • African cultures
    Culture of Africa
    The culture of Africa encompasses and includes all cultures within the continent of Africa. There is a political or racial split between North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, which is in turn divided into a great number of ethnic cultures...

    , whose presence derives from a long history of New World slavery
    Atlantic slave trade
    The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

    . Peoples of African descent have influenced the ethno-scapes of Latin America and the Caribbean. This is manifested for instance in dance and religion, especially in countries like Belize
    Belize
    Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

    , Brazil, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Haiti, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Cuba.

Art



Beyond the rich tradition of indigenous art, the development of Latin American visual art owed much to the influence of Spanish, Portuguese and French Baroque painting, which in turn often followed the trends of the Italian Masters. In general, this artistic Eurocentrism began to fade in the early twentieth century, as Latin-Americans began to acknowledge the uniqueness of their condition and started to follow their own path.

From the early twentieth century, the art of Latin America was greatly inspired by the Constructivist Movement. The Constructivist Movement was founded in Russia around 1913 by Vladimir Tatlin
Vladimir Tatlin
Vladimir Yevgrafovich Tatlin was a Russian and Soviet painter and architect. With Kazimir Malevich he was one of the two most important figures in the Russian avant-garde art movement of the 1920s, and he later became the most important artist in the Constructivist movement...

. The Movement quickly spread from Russia to Europe and then into Latin America. Joaquín Torres García
Joaquín Torres García
Joaquín Torres García , was a Uruguayan plastic artist and art theorist, also known as the founder of Constructive Universalism...

 and Manuel Rendón have been credited with bringing the Constructivist Movement into Latin America from Europe.

An important artistic movement generated in Latin America is muralism represented by Diego Rivera
Diego Rivera
Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez was a prominent Mexican painter born in Guanajuato, Guanajuato, an active communist, and husband of Frida Kahlo . His large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Movement in...

, David Alfaro Siqueiros
David Alfaro Siqueiros
José David Alfaro Siqueiros was a social realist painter, known for his large murals in fresco that helped establish the Mexican Mural Renaissance, together with works by Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, and also a member of the Mexican Communist Party who participated in an...

, José Clemente Orozco
José Clemente Orozco
José Clemente Orozco was a Mexican social realist painter, who specialized in bold murals that established the Mexican Mural Renaissance together with murals by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and others...

 and Rufino Tamayo
Rufino Tamayo
Rufino Tamayo was a Mexican painter of Zapotec heritage, born in Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico. Tamayo was active in the mid-20th century in Mexico and New York, painting figurative abstraction with surrealist influences....

 in Mexico and Santiago Martinez Delgado
Santiago Martínez Delgado
Santiago Martínez Delgado was a Colombian painter, sculptor, art historian and writer. He established a reputation as a prominent muralist during the 1940s and is also known for his watercolors, oil paintings, illustrations and woodcarvings....

 and Pedro Nel Gómez
Pedro Nel Gómez
Pedro Nel Gómez was a Colombian engineer, architect, painter, and sculptor. He started the Colombian Muralist Movement with Santiago Martinez Delgado, strongly influenced by the Mexican movement. With the fresco mural technique, Pedro Nel Gómez created 2,200 square meters of murals in public...

 in Colombia. Some of the most impressive Muralista works can be found in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

Painter Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo de Rivera was a Mexican painter, born in Coyoacán, and perhaps best known for her self-portraits....

, one of the most famous Mexican artists, painted about her own life and the Mexican culture in a style combining Realism
Realism (arts)
Realism in the visual arts and literature refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person objective reality, without embellishment or interpretation...

, Symbolism
Symbolism (arts)
Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century art movement of French, Russian and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. In literature, the style had its beginnings with the publication Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire...

 and Surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

. Kahlo's work commands the highest selling price of all Latin American paintings.

Colombian sculptor and painter Fernando Botero
Fernando Botero
Fernando Botero Angulo is a Colombian figurative artist. His works feature a figurative style, called by some "Boterismo", which gives them an unmistakable identity...

 is also widely known by his works which, on first examination, are noted for their exaggerated proportions and the corpulence of the human and animal figures.

Film



Latin American film is both rich and diverse. Historically, the main centers of production have been Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba.

Latin American film flourished after sound was introduced in cinema, which added a linguistic barrier to the export of Hollywood film south of the border. The 1950s and 1960s saw a movement towards Third Cinema
Third Cinema
Third Cinema is a Latin American film movement that started in the 1960s-70s which decries neocolonialism, the capitalist system, and the Hollywood model of cinema as mere entertainment to make money...

, led by the Argentine filmmakers Fernando Solanas
Fernando Solanas
Fernando Ezequiel 'Pino' Solanas is an Argentine film director, screenwriter and politician....

 and Octavio Getino
Octavio Getino
Octavio Getino is an Argentine film director who is best known for co-founding, along with Fernando Solanas, the Grupo Cine Liberación and the school of Third Cinema....

. More recently, a new style of directing and stories filmed has been tagged as "New Latin American Cinema."

Mexican cinema started out in the silent era from 1896–1929 and flourished in the Golden Era
Golden age of the cinema of Mexico
The Golden Age of Mexican cinema is a period between 1936 and 1969 where the quality and economic success of the cinema of Mexico reached its peak....

 of the 1940s. It boasted a huge industry comparable to Hollywood at the time with stars such as María Félix
María Félix
María Félix was a Mexican film actress and one of the icons of the golden era of the Cinema of Mexico and also one of the myths of the Spanish language Cinema for her life style and personality...

, Dolores del Río
Dolores del Río
Dolores del Río was a Mexican film actress. She was a star of Hollywood films during the silent era and in the Golden Age of Hollywood...

, and Pedro Infante
Pedro Infante
José Pedro Infante Cruz , better known as Pedro Infante, is the most famous actor and singer of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema and is an idol of the Latinamerican people, together with Jorge Negrete and Javier Solís, who were styled the Tres Gallos Mexicanos . He was born in Mazatlán, Sinaloa,...

. In the 1970s, Mexico was the location for many cult horror and action movies. More recently, films such as Amores Perros
Amores perros
Amores perros is a 2000 neorealist Mexican film, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Amores Perros is the first movie in Iñárritu's trilogy of death, and was followed by 21 Grams and Babel. It is a triptych; an anthology film, sometimes referred to as the "Mexican Pulp Fiction," containing...

 (2000) and Y tu mamá también
Y tu mamá también
Y tu mamá también is a 2001 Mexican comedy-drama film directed by Alfonso Cuarón, and co-written by Cuarón and his brother Carlos. The film is a coming-of-age story about two teenage boys taking a road trip with a woman in her late twenties; it stars Mexican actors Diego Luna and Gael García...

 (2001) enjoyed box office and critical acclaim and propelled Alfonso Cuarón
Alfonso Cuarón
Alfonso Cuarón Orozco is a Mexican film director, screenwriter and film producer, best known for his films Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Y tu mamá también, and A Little Princess.- Early life :...

 and Alejandro González Iñarritu
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Alejandro González Iñárritu is a Mexican film director.González Iñárritu is the first Mexican director to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and by the DGA of America for Best Director. He is also the first and only Mexican born director to have won the Prix de la mise en scene...

 to the front rank of Hollywood directors. Alejandro González Iñárritu directed in (2006) Babel and Alfonso Cuarón directed (Children of Men
Children of Men
Children of Men is a 2006 science fiction film loosely adapted from P. D. James's 1992 novel The Children of Men, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. In 2027, two decades of human infertility have left society on the brink of collapse. Illegal immigrants seek sanctuary in England, where the last...

 in (2006), and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a 2004 fantasy film directed by Alfonso Cuarón and based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. It is the third instalment in the Harry Potter film series, written by Steve Kloves and produced by Chris Columbus, David Heyman and Mark Radcliffe...

 in (2004)). Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro is a Mexican director, producer, screenwriter, novelist and designer. He is mostly known for his acclaimed films, Blade II, Pan's Labyrinth and the Hellboy film franchise. He is a frequent collaborator with Ron Perlman, Federico Luppi and Doug Jones...

 close friend and also a front rank Hollywood director in Hollywood and Spain, directed Pan's Labyrinth
Pan's Labyrinth
Pan's Labyrinth is a 2006 Spanish Spanish-language dark fantasy film, written and directed by Mexican film-maker Guillermo del Toro. It was produced and distributed by the Mexican film company Esperanto Films...

 (2006) and produce El Orfanato
The Orphanage (film)
The Orphanage is a 2007 Spanish-Mexican horror film and the debut feature of Spanish filmmaker J.A. Bayona. The film stars Belén Rueda as Laura, Fernando Cayo as her husband, Carlos, and Roger Príncep as their adopted son Simón. The plot centers on Laura, who returns to her childhood home, an...

 (2007). Carlos Carrera
Carlos Carrera
Carlos Carrera is a Mexican film director and screenwriter. He directed El crimen del Padre Amaro , which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film....

 (The Crime of Father Amaro), and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga
Guillermo Arriaga
Guillermo Arriaga Jordán is a Mexican author, screenwriter, director and producer. Self-defined as “a hunter who works as a writer,” he authored Amores Perros, received a BAFTA Best Screenplay nomination for 21 Grams, and received the 2005 Cannes Best Screenplay Award for The Three Burials of...

 are also some of the most known present-day Mexican film makers. Rudo y Cursi
Rudo y Cursi
Rudo y Cursi is a 2008 Mexican film starring Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal and Guillermo Francella. It is directed by Carlos Cuarón and produced by Cha Cha Cha Films...

 released in December (2008) in Mexico directed by Carlos Cuarón
Carlos Cuarón
Carlos José Cuarón Orozco is a Mexican screenwriter, film producer and film director. He is the brother of Alfonso Cuarón.- Biography :Carlos Cuarón was born in Mexico City and studied English literature at UNAM...

.

Argentine cinema
Cinema of Argentina
The cinema of Argentina has a tradition dating back to the late nineteenth century, and continues to play a role in the culture of Argentina....

 has also been prominenent since the first half of the 20th century and today averages over 60 full-length titles yearly. The industry suffered during the 1976–1983 military dictatorship; but re-emerged to produce the Academy Award
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

 winner The Official Story
The Official Story
The Official Story is a 1985 Argentine drama film directed by Luis Puenzo, and written by Puenzo and Aída Bortnik. It stars Norma Aleandro, Héctor Alterio, and Chunchuna Villafañe, among others. In the United Kingdom, it was released as The Official Version.The film is about an upper middle class...

 in 1985. A wave of imported U.S. films again damaged the industry in the early 1990s, though it soon recovered, thriving even during the Argentine economic crisis
Argentine economic crisis (1999-2002)
The Argentine economic crisis was a financial situation, tied to poilitical unrest, that affected Argentina's economy during the late 1990s and early 2000s...

 around 2001. Many Argentine movies produced during recent years have been internationally acclaimed, including Nueve reinas
Nueve reinas
Nine Queens is an Argentine crime drama film written and directed by Fabián Bielinsky. The picture features Gastón Pauls, Ricardo Darín, Leticia Brédice, and Tomás Fonzi, among others.The film was nominated for 28 awards and won 21 of them....

 (2000), El abrazo partido
El abrazo partido
Lost Embrace is an Argentine, French, Italian, and Spanish comedy drama film, directed by Daniel Burman and written by Burman and Marcelo Birmajer...

 (2004), El otro (2007) and the 2010 Foreign Language Academy Award
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

 winner El secreto de sus ojos
El secreto de sus ojos
The Secret in Their Eyes is a 2009 Argentine crime thriller, directed by Juan José Campanella, based on Eduardo Sacheri's novel La Pregunta de Sus Ojos...

.

In Brazil
Cinema of Brazil
Brazilian cinema was introduced early in the 20th century but took some time to consolidate itself as a popular form of entertainment. The film industry of Brazil has gone through periods of ups and downs, a reflection of its dependency on State funding and incentives.- Early days :A couple of...

, the Cinema Novo
Cinema Novo
Cinema Novo was practised by Brazilian filmmakers in the 1950s and 1960s. In Portugal, Novo Cinema flourished after the 1960s, where it lasted, inspired by Italian Neo-Realism and the French movement of the New wave, the direct cinema techniques, and by the ideals the Carnation Revolution up to...

 movement created a particular way of making movies with critical and intellectual screenplays, a clearer photography related to the light of the outdoors in a tropical landscape, and a political message. The modern Brazilian film industry has become more profitable inside the country, and some of its productions have received prizes and recognition in Europe and the United States, with movies such as Central do Brasil
Central do Brasil (film)
Central Station is a 1998 Brazilian/French drama film set in Brazil. It tells the story of a young boy's friendship with a jaded middle-aged woman. The film was adapted by Marcos Bernstein and João Emanuel Carneiro from a story by Walter Salles and it was directed by the latter. It features...

 (1999), Cidade de Deus (2002) and Tropa de Elite
Tropa de Elite
The Elite Squad is a 2007 Brazilian film directed by José Padilha. The film is a semi-fictional account of the BOPE , the Special Police Operations Battalion of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police. It is the second feature film and first fiction film of Padilha, who had previously directed the...

 (2007).

Cuban cinema
Cinema of Cuba
Cinema arrived in Cuba at the beginning of the 20th century. Before the Cuban Revolution of 1959, about 80 full-length films were produced in Cuba. Most of these films were melodramas...

 has enjoyed much official support since the Cuban revolution and important film-makers include Tomás Gutiérrez Alea
Tomás Gutiérrez Alea
Tomás Gutiérrez Alea was a Cuban filmmaker. He wrote and directed more than 20 features, documentaries, and short films, which are known for his sharp insight into post-Revolutionary Cuba, and possess a delicate balance between dedication to the revolution and criticism of the social, economic,...

.

It is also worth noting that many Latin Americans have achieved significant success within Hollywood, for instance Carmen Miranda
Carmen Miranda
Carmen Miranda, GCIH was a Portuguese-born Brazilian samba singer, Broadway actress and Hollywood film star popular in the 1940s and 1950s. She was, by some accounts, the highest-earning woman in the United States and noted for her signature fruit hat outfit she wore in the 1943 movie The Gang's...

 (Portuguese-Brazilian), Salma Hayek
Salma Hayek
Salma Valgarma Hayek Jiménez de Pinault is a Mexican film actress, director and producer. She received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role as Frida Kahlo in the film Frida.-Early life:...

 (Mexican), and Benicio del Toro
Benicio del Toro
Benicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sánchez is a Puerto Rican and Spanish actor and film producer. He won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a BAFTA Award for his role as Javier Rodríguez in Traffic . He is also known for his roles as Fred Fenster in The Usual...

 (Puerto Rican), while Mexican Americans such as Robert Rodriguez
Robert Rodriguez
Robert Anthony Rodríguez is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor and musician. He shoots and produces many of his films in his native Texas and Mexico. He has directed such films as Desperado, From Dusk till Dawn, The Faculty, Spy Kids, Sin City, Planet...

 have also made their mark.

Literature



Pre-Columbian cultures were primarily oral, though the Aztecs and Mayans, for instance, produced elaborate codices
Aztec codices
Aztec codices are books written by pre-Columbian and colonial-era Aztecs. These codices provide some of the best primary sources for Aztec culture....

. Oral accounts of mythological and religious beliefs were also sometimes recorded after the arrival of European colonizers, as was the case with the Popol Vuh
Popol Vuh
Popol Vuh is a corpus of mytho-historical narratives of the Post Classic Quiché kingdom in Guatemala's western highlands. The title translates as "Book of the Community," "Book of Counsel," or more literally as "Book of the People."...

. Moreover, a tradition of oral narrative survives to this day, for instance among the Quechua
Quechua languages
Quechua is a Native South American language family and dialect cluster spoken primarily in the Andes of South America, derived from an original common ancestor language, Proto-Quechua. It is the most widely spoken language family of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, with a total of probably...

-speaking population of Peru and the Quiché (K'iche') of Guatemala.

From the very moment of Europe's "discovery" of the continent, early explorers and conquistadores produced written accounts and crónicas of their experience—such as Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

's letters or Bernal Díaz del Castillo
Bernal Díaz del Castillo
Bernal Díaz del Castillo was a conquistador, who wrote an eyewitness account of the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards for Hernán Cortés, himself serving as a rodelero under Cortés.-Early life:...

's description of the conquest of Mexico. During the colonial period, written culture was often in the hands of the church, within which context Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz wrote memorable poetry and philosophical essays. Towards the end of the 18th Century and the beginning of the 19th, a distinctive criollo
Criollo (people)
The Criollo class ranked below that of the Iberian Peninsulares, the high-born permanent residence colonists born in Spain. But Criollos were higher status/rank than all other castes—people of mixed descent, Amerindians, and enslaved Africans...

 literary tradition emerged, including the first novels such as Lizardi's El Periquillo Sarniento
El Periquillo Sarniento
The Mangy Parrot: The Life and Times of Periquillo Sarniento Written by himself for his Children by Mexican author José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi, is generally considered the first novel written and published in Latin America. El Periquillo was written in 1816, though due to government...

 (1816).


The 19th century was a period of "foundational fictions" (in critic Doris Sommer's words), novels in the Romantic
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 or Naturalist
Naturalism (literature)
Naturalism was a literary movement taking place from the 1880s to 1940s that used detailed realism to suggest that social conditions, heredity, and environment had inescapable force in shaping human character...

 traditions that attempted to establish a sense of national identity, and which often focussed on the indigenous question or the dichotomy of "civilization or barbarism" (for which see, say, Domingo Sarmiento
Domingo Faustino Sarmiento
Domingo Faustino Sarmiento was an Argentine activist, intellectual, writer, statesman and the seventh President of Argentina. His writing spanned a wide range of genres and topics, from journalism to autobiography, to political philosophy and history...

's Facundo
Facundo
Facundo: Civilization and Barbarism is a book written in 1845 by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, a writer and journalist who became the seventh president of Argentina...

 (1845), Juan León Mera
Juan León Mera
Juan León Mera Martínez was an Ecuadorian poet, novelist, journalist, critic, politician and satirist....

's Cumandá (1879), or Euclides da Cunha
Euclides da Cunha
Euclides da Cunha was a Brazilian writer, sociologist and engineer. His most important work is Os Sertões , a non-fictional account of the military expeditions promoted by the Brazilian government against the rebellious village of Canudos, known as the War of Canudos...

's Os Sertões
Os Sertões
Os Sertões is a book written by the Brazilian author Euclides da Cunha, widely considered one of the greatest achievements of Brazilian and even World literature...

 (1902)). The 19th century also witnessed the realist work of Machado de Assis, who made use of surreal devices of metaphor and playful narrative construction, much admired by critic Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom is an American writer and literary critic, and is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. He is known for his defense of 19th-century Romantic poets, his unique and controversial theories of poetic influence, and his prodigious literary output, particularly for a literary...

.

At the turn of the 20th century, modernismo
Modernismo
Modernismo is Spanish for modernism, however the term Modernism also indicates a more specific art movement:* Modernismo refers to a Spanish-American literary movement, best exemplified by Rubén Darío...

 emerged, a poetic movement whose founding text was Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío
Rubén Darío
Félix Rubén García Sarmiento , known as Rubén Darío, was a Nicaraguan poet who initiated the Spanish-American literary movement known as modernismo that flourished at the end of the 19th century...

's Azul (1888). This was the first Latin American literary movement to influence literary culture outside of the region, and was also the first truly Latin American literature, in that national differences were no longer so much at issue. José Martí
José Martí
José Julián Martí Pérez was a Cuban national hero and an important figure in Latin American literature. In his short life he was a poet, an essayist, a journalist, a revolutionary philosopher, a translator, a professor, a publisher, and a political theorist. He was also a part of the Cuban...

, for instance, though a Cuban patriot, also lived in Mexico and the U.S. and wrote for journals in Argentina and elsewhere.

However, what really put Latin American literature on the global map was no doubt the literary boom
Latin American Boom
The Latin American Boom was a literary movement of the 1960s and 1970s when the work of a group of relatively young Latin American novelists became widely circulated in Europe and throughout the world...

 of the 1960s and 1970s, distinguished by daring and experimental novels (such as Julio Cortázar
Julio Cortázar
Julio Cortázar, born Jules Florencio Cortázar, was an Argentine writer. Cortázar, known as one of the founders of the Latin American Boom, influenced an entire generation of Spanish speaking readers and writers in the Americas and Europe.-Early life:Cortázar's parents, Julio José Cortázar and...

's Rayuela (1963)) that were frequently published in Spain and quickly translated into English. The Boom's defining novel was Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez is a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist, known affectionately as Gabo throughout Latin America. He is considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in...

's Cien años de soledad
One Hundred Years of Solitude
One Hundred Years of Solitude , by Gabriel García Márquez, is a novel which tells the multi-generational story of the Buendía family, whose patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, founds the town of Macondo, the metaphoric Colombia...

 (1967), which led to the association of Latin American literature with magic realism
Magic realism
Magic realism or magical realism is an aesthetic style or genre of fiction in which magical elements blend with the real world. The story explains these magical elements as real occurrences, presented in a straightforward manner that places the "real" and the "fantastic" in the same stream of...

, though other important writers of the period such as the Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa
Mario Vargas Llosa
Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, 1st Marquis of Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian-Spanish writer, politician, journalist, essayist, and Nobel Prize laureate. Vargas Llosa is one of Latin America's most significant novelists and essayists, and one of the leading authors of his generation...

 and Carlos Fuentes
Carlos Fuentes
Carlos Fuentes Macías is a Mexican writer and one of the best-known living novelists and essayists in the Spanish-speaking world. He has influenced contemporary Latin American literature, and his works have been widely translated into English and other languages.-Biography:Fuentes was born in...

 do not fit so easily within this framework. Arguably, the Boom's culmination was Augusto Roa Bastos
Augusto Roa Bastos
Augusto Roa Bastos, was a noted Paraguayan novelist and short story writer, and one of the most important Latin American writers of the 20th century. As a teenager he fought in the Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia, and he later worked as a journalist, screenwriter and professor...

's monumental Yo, el supremo (1974). In the wake of the Boom, influential precursors such as Juan Rulfo
Juan Rulfo
Juan Rulfo was a Mexican author and photographer. One of Latin America's most esteemed authors, Rulfo's reputation rests on two slim books, the novel Pedro Páramo , and El Llano en llamas...

, Alejo Carpentier
Alejo Carpentier
Alejo Carpentier y Valmont was a Cuban novelist, essayist, and musicologist who greatly influenced Latin American literature during its famous "boom" period. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Carpentier grew up in Havana, Cuba; and despite his European birthplace, Carpentier strongly self-identified...

, and above all Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

 were also rediscovered.

Contemporary literature in the region is vibrant and varied, ranging from the best-selling Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist.-Biography:Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He attended a Jesuit school. As a teenager, Coelho wanted to become a writer. Upon telling his mother this, she responded with "My dear, your father is an engineer. He's a logical,...

 and Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende Llona is a Chilean writer with American citizenship. Allende, whose works sometimes contain aspects of the "magic realist" tradition, is famous for novels such as The House of the Spirits and City of the Beasts , which have been commercially successful...

 to the more avant-garde and critically acclaimed work of writers such as Diamela Eltit
Diamela Eltit
Diamela Eltit is a writer and a Spanish professor from Chile. She currently holds a teaching appointment at New York University, where she teaches creative writing....

, Giannina Braschi
Giannina Braschi
Giannina Braschi is a Puerto Rican writer. She is credited with writing the first Spanglish novel YO-YO BOING! and the poetry trilogy Empire of Dreams , which chronicles the Latin American immigrant's experiences in the United States...

, Ricardo Piglia
Ricardo Piglia
Ricardo Piglia is one of the foremost contemporary Argentine writers, known for his fiction, including several collections of short stories; the novels Artificial Respiration , The Absent City , Burnt Money ; and criticism including Criticism and Fiction , Brief Forms and...

, or Roberto Bolaño
Roberto Bolaño
Roberto Bolaño Ávalos was a Chilean novelist and poet. In 1999 he won the Rómulo Gallegos Prize for his novel Los detectives salvajes , and in 2008 he was posthumously awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction for his novel 2666, which was described by board member Marcela Valdes...

. There has also been considerable attention paid to the genre of testimonio, texts produced in collaboration with subaltern subjects such as Rigoberta Menchú
Rigoberta Menchú
Rigoberta Menchú Tum is an indigenous Guatemalan, of the K'iche' ethnic group. Menchú has dedicated her life to publicizing the plight of Guatemala's indigenous peoples during and after the Guatemalan Civil War , and to promoting indigenous rights in the country...

. Finally, a new breed of chroniclers is represented by the more journalistic Carlos Monsiváis
Carlos Monsiváis
Carlos Monsiváis Aceves was a Mexican writer, critic, political activist, and journalist. of French decent He also wrote political opinion columns in leading newspapers and was considered to be an opinion leader within the country's progressive sectors. His generation of writers includes Elena...

 and Pedro Lemebel.

The region boasts six Nobel Prize winners
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

: in addition to the two Chilean poets Gabriela Mistral
Gabriela Mistral
Gabriela Mistral was the pseudonym of Lucila de María del Perpetuo Socorro Godoy Alcayaga, a Chilean poet, educator, diplomat, and feminist who was the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1945...

 (1945) and Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean poet, diplomat and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He chose his pen name after Czech poet Jan Neruda....

 (1971), there is also the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel García Márquez
Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez is a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist, known affectionately as Gabo throughout Latin America. He is considered one of the most significant authors of the 20th century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in...

 (1982), the Guatemalan novelist Miguel Ángel Asturias
Miguel Ángel Asturias
Miguel Ángel Asturias Rosales was a Nobel Prize–winning Guatemalan poet, novelist, playwright, journalist and diplomat...

 (1967), the Mexican poet and essayist Octavio Paz
Octavio Paz
Octavio Paz Lozano was a Mexican writer, poet, and diplomat, and the winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize for Literature.-Early life and writings:...

 (1990), and the Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa
Mario Vargas Llosa
Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, 1st Marquis of Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian-Spanish writer, politician, journalist, essayist, and Nobel Prize laureate. Vargas Llosa is one of Latin America's most significant novelists and essayists, and one of the leading authors of his generation...

 (2010).

Music and dance


Latin America has produced many successful worldwide artists in terms of recorded global music sales. The most successful have been Roberto Carlos
Roberto Carlos (singer)
Roberto Carlos Braga is a Grammy Award-winning Brazilian singer and composer, who has achieved a great deal of success and recognition in his 50 year career, also known as King of Latin Music....

 (Brazil) who has sold over 100 million records, Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana
Carlos Augusto Alves Santana is a Mexican rock guitarist. Santana became famous in the late 1960s and early 1970s with his band, Santana, which pioneered rock, salsa and jazz fusion...

 (Mexico) with over 75 million, Luis Miguel
Luis Miguel
Luis Miguel Gallego Basteri is a Mexican singer. He is widely known only by the name Luis Miguel and is often referred to as "El Sol de México"...

 (Mexico), Shakira
Shakira
Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll , known professionally as Shakira , is a Colombian singer who emerged in the music scene of Colombia and Latin America in the early 1990s...

 (Colombia) and Vicente Fernández
Vicente Fernández
Vicente Fernández Gómez is a Mexican singer, producer and actor. Known as Chente or El rey de la canción ranchera throughout the Latin world, Vicente Fernández, who started his career singing for tips on the street, has become a cultural icon, recording more than 50 albums and contributing to...

 (Mexico) with over 50 million records sold worldwide. One of the main characteristics of Latin American music is its diversity, from the lively rhythms of Central America and the Caribbean to the more austere sounds of the Andes and the Southern Cone
Southern Cone
Southern Cone is a geographic region composed of the southernmost areas of South America, south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Although geographically this includes part of Southern and Southeast of Brazil, in terms of political geography the Southern cone has traditionally comprised Argentina,...

. Another feature of Latin American music is its original blending of the variety of styles that arrived in The Americas and became influential, from the early Spanish and European Baroque to the different beats of the African rhythms.

Caribbean Hispanic music, such as merengue, bachata, salsa
Salsa music
Salsa music is a genre of music, generally defined as a modern style of playing Cuban Son, Son Montuno, and Guaracha with touches from other genres of music...

, and more recently reggaeton
Reggaeton
Reggaeton is a form of Puerto Rican and Latin American urban and Caribbean music. After its mainstream exposure in 2004, it spread to North American, European and Asian audiences. Reggaeton originated in Puerto Rico but is also has roots from Reggae en Español from Panama and Puerto Rico and...

, from such countries as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico,Trinidad, Cuba, and Panama has been strongly influenced by African rhythms and melodies. Haiti's compas is a genre of music that draws influence and is thus similar to its Caribbean Hispanic counterparts, with an element of jazz and modern sound as well.

Another well-known Latin American musical genre includes the Argentine
Argentine tango
Argentine tango is a musical genre of simple quadruple metre and binary musical form, and the social dance that accompanies it. Its lyrics and music are marked by nostalgia, expressed through melodic instruments including the bandoneon. Originated at the ending of the 19th century in the suburbs of...

 and Uruguayan
Uruguayan tango
Uruguayan tango is a form of dance that originated in the neighborhoods of Montevideo, Uruguay towards the beginnings of the 20th century a few years later than Argentine tango...

 tango
Tango music
Tango is a style of ballroom dance music in 2/4 or 4/4 time that originated among European immigrant populations of Argentina and Uruguay . It is traditionally played by a sextet, known as the orquesta típica, which includes two violins, piano, double bass, and two bandoneons...

, as well as the distinct nuevo tango
Nuevo tango
Tango Nuevo - either a form of music in which new elements are incorporated into traditional Argentine tango, or an evolution of tango dance that began to develop in the 1980s...

, a fusion of tango, acoustic
Acoustic music
Acoustic music comprises music that solely or primarily uses instruments which produce sound through entirely acoustic means, as opposed to electric or electronic means...

 and electronic music
Electronic music
Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments and electronic music technology in its production. In general a distinction can be made between sound produced using electromechanical means and that produced using electronic technology. Examples of electromechanical sound...

 popularized by bandoneón
Bandoneón
The bandoneón is a type of concertina particularly popular in Argentina and Uruguay. It plays an essential role in the orquesta típica, the tango orchestra...

 virtuoso Ástor Piazzolla
Ástor Piazzolla
Ástor Pantaleón Piazzolla was an Argentine tango composer and bandoneón player. His oeuvre revolutionized the traditional tango into a new style termed nuevo tango, incorporating elements from jazz and classical music...

. Samba
Samba
Samba is a Brazilian dance and musical genre originating in Bahia and with its roots in Brazil and Africa via the West African slave trade and African religious traditions. It is recognized around the world as a symbol of Brazil and the Brazilian Carnival...

, North American jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, European classical music and choro
Choro
Choro , traditionally called chorinho , is a Brazilian popular music instrumental style. Its origins are in 19th century Rio de Janeiro. In spite of the name, the style often has a fast and happy rhythm, characterized by virtuosity, improvisation, subtile modulations and full of syncopation and...

 combined to form bossa nova
Bossa nova
Bossa nova is a style of Brazilian music. Bossa nova acquired a large following in the 1960s, initially consisting of young musicians and college students...

 in Brazil, popularized by guitar
Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

rist João Gilberto
João Gilberto
João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira, known as João Gilberto , is a Brazilian singer and guitarist. His seminal recordings, including many songs by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, established the new musical genre of Bossa nova in the late 1950s.-Biography:From an early age, music...

 and pianist
Jazz piano
Jazz piano is a collective term for the techniques pianists use when playing jazz. The piano has been an integral part of the jazz idiom since its inception, in both solo and ensemble settings. Its role is multifaceted due largely to the instrument's combined melodic and harmonic capabilities...

 Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antônio Carlos Jobim
Antônio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim , also known as Tom Jobim , was a Brazilian songwriter, composer, arranger, singer, and pianist/guitarist. He was a primary force behind the creation of the bossa nova style, and his songs have been performed by many singers and instrumentalists within...

.

Other influential Latin American sounds include the Antillean soca
Soca music
Soca is a style of music from Trinidad and Tobago. Soca is a musical development of traditional Trinidadian calypso, through loans from the 1960s onwards from predominantly black popular music....

 and calypso
Calypso music
Calypso is a style of Afro-Caribbean music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago from African and European roots. The roots of the genre lay in the arrival of enslaved Africans, who, not being allowed to speak with each other, communicated through song...

, the Honduras (Garifuna) punta
Punta
Punta is a Garifuna music and dance style performed at celebrations and festive occasions. Contemporary punta, including Belizean punta rock, arose in the last thirty years of the twentieth century in Belize, Honduras and Guatemala. It also has a following in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Southern Mexico...

, the Colombian cumbia
Cumbia
Cumbia is a music genre popular across Latin America. The cumbia originated in the Caribbean coast of Colombia, where it is associated with an eponymous dance and has since spread as far as Mexico and Argentina...

 and vallenato
Vallenato
Vallenato, along with cumbia, is currently a popular folk music of Colombia. It primarily comes from the Colombia's Caribbean region. Vallenato literally means "born in the valley". The valley influencing this name is located between the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serranía de Perijá in...

, the Chilean cueca
Cueca
Cueca is a family of musical styles and associated dances from Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina. In Chile, the cueca holds the status of national dance, where it was officially selected on September 18, 1979.- Origins :...

, the Ecuadorian boleros, and rockoleras, the Mexican ranchera
Ranchera
Ranchera is a genre of the traditional music of Mexico originally sung by only one performer with a guitar. It dates to the years of the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century. It later became closely associated with the mariachi groups which evolved in Jalisco. Ranchera today is also played...

, the Nicaraguan palo de Mayo
Palo de Mayo
Palo de Mayo is a type of Afro-Caribbean dance with sensual movements that forms part of the culture of several communities in the RAAS region in Nicaragua, as well as Belize, the Bay Islands of Honduras and Bocas del Toro in Panama. It is also the name given to the month long May Day festival...

, the Peruvian marinera
Marinera
Marinera is a coastal dance of Peru, generally called the "National Dance of Peru." Marinera is a graceful and romantic couple's dance that uses handkerchiefs as props. The dance is an elegant and stylized reenactment of a courtship, and it shows a blend of the different cultures of Peru...

 and tondero
Tondero
Tondero is a dance and guitar rhythm from the Peruvian north coast .-Geographical origin of tondero and cumananas:The Tondero is a Peruvian dance and rhythm born in the north coast adjacent to the eastern valleys of the Sierra or “yungas” of Piura, Sechura and Lambayeque...

, the Uruguayan candombe
Candombe
Candombe is a musical genre that has its roots in the African Bantu, and is proper of Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil .Uruguayan Candombe is the most practiced and spread internationally and has been recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity...

, the French Antillean zouk
Zouk
Zouk is a style of rhythmic music originating from the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe & Martinique. Zouk means "party" or "festival" in the local Antillean Creole of French, although the word originally referred to, and is still used to refer to, a popular dance, based on the Polish dance, the...

 (derived from Haitian compas) and the various styles of music from pre-Columbian traditions that are widespread in the Andean region.


The classical composer Heitor Villa-Lobos
Heitor Villa-Lobos
Heitor Villa-Lobos was a Brazilian composer, described as "the single most significant creative figure in 20th-century Brazilian art music". Villa-Lobos has become the best-known and most significant Latin American composer to date. He wrote numerous orchestral, chamber, instrumental and vocal works...

 (1887–1959) worked on the recording of native musical traditions within his homeland of Brazil. The traditions of his homeland heavily influenced his classical works. Also notable is the recent work of the Cuban Leo Brouwer
Leo Brouwer
Juan Leovigildo Brouwer Mezquida is a Cuban composer, conductor and guitarist. He is the grandson of Cuban composer Ernestina Lecuona Casado.-Biography:...

 and guitar work of the Venezuelan Antonio Lauro
Antonio Lauro
Antonio Lauro was a Venezuelan musician, considered to be one of the foremost South American composers for the Guitar in the 20th century.- Biography :Antonio Lauro was born in Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela...

 and the Paraguayan Agustín Barrios
Agustín Barrios
Agustín Pío Barrios , an eminent Paraguayan guitarist and composer, was born in the department of Misiones, Paraguay and died in San Salvador, El Salvador...

. Latin America has also produced world-class classical performers such as the Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau
Claudio Arrau
Claudio Arrau León was a Chilean pianist known for his interpretations of a vast repertoire spanning from the baroque to 20th-century composers, especially Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms and Debussy...

, Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire
Nelson Freire
Nelson Freire is a Brazilian classical pianist.Freire began playing the piano when he was three years old. He replayed from memory pieces his older sister had just performed. His teachers in Brazil were Nise Obino and Lucia Branco, former students of a pupil of Liszt. For his first public recital,...

 and the Argentine pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim, KBE is an Argentinian-Israeli pianist and conductor. He has served as music director of several major symphonic and operatic orchestras and made numerous recordings....

.

Arguably, the main contribution to music entered through folklore, where the true soul of the Latin American and Caribbean countries is expressed. Musicians such as Yma Súmac
Yma Súmac
Yma Sumac was a noted Peruvian soprano. In the 1950s, she was one of the most famous proponents of exotica music. She became an international success based on her extreme vocal range, which was said to be "well over four octaves" and was sometimes claimed to span even five octaves at her peak.Yma...

, Chabuca Granda
Chabuca Granda
María Isabel Granda Larco , better known as Chabuca Granda, was a Peruvian singer and composer. She created and interpreted a vast number of Criollo waltzes with Afro-Peruvian rhythms...

, Atahualpa Yupanqui
Atahualpa Yupanqui
Atahualpa Yupanqui was an Argentine singer, songwriter, guitarist, and writer. He is considered the most important Argentine folk musician of the 20th century....

, Violeta Parra
Violeta Parra
Violeta del Carmen Parra Sandoval was a notable Chilean composer, songwriter, folklorist, ethnomusicologist and visual artist...

, Víctor Jara
Víctor Jara
Víctor Lidio Jara Martínez was a Chilean teacher, theatre director, poet, singer-songwriter, political activist and member of the Communist Party of Chile...

, Mercedes Sosa
Mercedes Sosa
Haydée Mercedes Sosa, known as La Negra, was an Argentine singer who was popular throughout South America and some countries outside the continent. With her roots in Argentine folk music, Sosa became one of the preeminent exponents of nueva canción. She gave voice to songs written by both...

, Jorge Negrete
Jorge Negrete
Jorge Alberto Negrete Moreno is considered one of the most popular Mexican singers and actors of all time....

, Luiz Gonzaga
Luiz Gonzaga
Luiz Gonzaga do Nascimento was a very prominent Brazilian folk singer, songwriter, musician and poet. Born in the countryside of Pernambuco , he is considered to be responsible for the promotion of northeastern music throughout the rest of the country...

, Caetano Veloso
Caetano Veloso
Caetano Emanuel Viana Teles Veloso , better known as Caetano Veloso, is a Brazilian composer, singer, guitarist, writer, and political activist. Veloso first became known for his participation in the Brazilian musical movement Tropicalismo which encompassed theatre, poetry and music in the 1960s,...

, Susana Baca
Susana Baca
Susana Esther Baca de la Colina is a prominent Peruvian singer-songwriter; two-times Latin Grammy Award winner. She has been a key figure in the revival of Afro-Peruvian music within Peru....

, Chavela Vargas
Chavela Vargas
Isabel Vargas Lizano is a Costa Rican-born Mexican singer. She is especially known for her rendition of Mexican rancheras genre - a folkloric musical genre widely popular in Mexico - but she is also recognized for her contribution to other popular Latin American song genres...

, Simon Diaz
Simón Díaz
Simón Narciso Díaz Márquez is a singer and Grammy Award winning composer of Venezuelan music.- Career :Díaz has endeavored to recover the folklore and musical traditions of the llanos, the Venezuelan plains...

, Julio Jaramillo
Julio Jaramillo
Julio Alfredo Jaramillo Laurido was a notable Ecuadorian "Pasillo" performer. Jaramillo performed throughout Latin America where he achieved fame performing and recording boleros, valses, pasillos, tangos and rancheras. He recorded more than 4,000 songs in total.He recorded his most famous song...

, Toto la Momposina
Totó la Momposina
Sonia Bazanta Vides, better known as Totó la Momposina, is a Colombian singer of traditional mixed indigenous Colombian and Afro-Latin music. She was born in the northern Colombian town of Talaigua Nuevo near Mompox in the Bolívar Department...

 as well as musical ensembles such as Inti Illimani and Los Kjarkas
Los Kjarkas
Los Kjarkas is a Bolivian band from the Capinota Province in the department of Cochabamba, one of the most popular Andean pop bands in the country's history...

 are magnificent examples of the heights that this soul can reach.

Latin pop
Latin pop
Latin pop generally refers to pop music that has what may be perceived a Latin American influence...

, including many forms of rock, is popular in Latin America today (see Spanish language rock and roll).

More recently, Reggaeton
Reggaeton
Reggaeton is a form of Puerto Rican and Latin American urban and Caribbean music. After its mainstream exposure in 2004, it spread to North American, European and Asian audiences. Reggaeton originated in Puerto Rico but is also has roots from Reggae en Español from Panama and Puerto Rico and...

, which blends Jamaican reggae and dancehall with Latin America genres such as bomba
Bomba
Bomba is one of the traditional musical styles of Puerto Rico. it is a largely African-derived music. The rhythm and beat are played by a set of floor drums, cuá and a maraca. Dance is an integral part of the music: the dancers move their bodies to every beat of the drum, making bomba a very...

 and plena
Plena
Plena is a folkloric genre native to Puerto Rico. Its creation was influenced by African and Spanish music.-History:The music is generally folkloric. The music's beat and rhythm are usually played using hand drums called panderetas, but also known as panderos or pleneras. The music is accompanied...

, as well as that of hip hop
Hip hop
Hip hop is a form of musical expression and artistic culture that originated in African-American and Latino communities during the 1970s in New York City, specifically the Bronx. DJ Afrika Bambaataa outlined the four pillars of hip hop culture: MCing, DJing, breaking and graffiti writing...

, is becoming more popular, in spite of the controversy surrounding its lyrics, dance steps (Perreo) and music videos. It has become very popular among populations with a "migrant culture" influence – both Latino populations in the U.S., such as southern Florida and New York City, and parts of Latin America where migration to the U.S. is common, such as Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Mexico.

See also


  • Hispanic America
    Hispanic America
    Hispanic America or Spanish America is the region comprising the American countries inhabited by Spanish-speaking populations.These countries have significant commonalities with each other and with Spain, whose colonies they formerly were...

  • Hispanic
    Hispanic
    Hispanic is a term that originally denoted a relationship to Hispania, which is to say the Iberian Peninsula: Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain. During the Modern Era, Hispanic sometimes takes on a more limited meaning, particularly in the United States, where the term means a person of ...

  • Portuguese America
  • Ibero-America
    Ibero-America
    Ibero-America is a term used since the second half of the 19th century to refer collectively to the countries in the Americas that were formerly colonies of Spain or Portugal. Spain and Portugal are themselves included in some definitions, such as that of the Ibero-American Summit and the...

  • Anglo-America
    Anglo-America
    Anglo-America is a region in the Americas in which English is a main language, or one which has significant British historical, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural links...

  • Latin Union
    Latin Union
    The Latin Union is an international organization of nations that use Romance languages, with the aim of protecting, projecting, and promoting the common cultural heritage and unifying identities of the Latin, and Latin-influenced, world. It was created in 1954 in Madrid, Spain, and has existed as a...

     (Latin Europe
    Latin Europe
    Latin Europe is a loose term for the region of Europe with an especially strong Latin cultural heritage inherited from the Roman Empire.-Application:...

    , Romance-speaking African countries
    Romance-speaking African countries
    Romance-speaking Africa consists of the countries and territories in Africa whose official or main languages are Romance ones, and countries which have significant populations that speak Romance languages...

    )
  • Southern Cone
    Southern Cone
    Southern Cone is a geographic region composed of the southernmost areas of South America, south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Although geographically this includes part of Southern and Southeast of Brazil, in terms of political geography the Southern cone has traditionally comprised Argentina,...

  • Latin Americans
    Latin Americans
    Latin Americans are the citizens of the Latin American countries and dependencies. Latin American countries are multi-ethnic, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds. As a result, some Latin Americans don't take their nationality as an ethnicity, but identify themselves with...

     (Amerindians, Criollo
    Criollo people
    The Criollo class ranked below that of the Iberian Peninsulares, the high-born permanent residence colonists born in Spain. But Criollos were higher status/rank than all other castes—people of mixed descent, Amerindians, and enslaved Africans...

    , Afro-Latin American
    Afro-Latin American
    An Afro-Latin American is a Latin American person of at least partial Black African ancestry; the term may also refer to historical or cultural elements in Latin America thought to emanate from this community...

    , Asian Latin American, Mestizos, Mulatto
    Mulatto
    Mulatto denotes a person with one white parent and one black parent, or more broadly, a person of mixed black and white ancestry. Contemporary usage of the term varies greatly, and the broader sense of the term makes its application rather subjective, as not all people of mixed white and black...

    , White Latin American
    White Latin American
    White Latin Americans are the people of Latin America who are white in the racial classification systems used in individual Latin American countries. Persons who are classified as White in one Latin American country may be classified differently in another country...

    , Zambo
    Zambo
    Zambo or Cafuzo are racial terms used in the Spanish and Portuguese Empires and occasionally today to identify individuals in the Americas who are of mixed African and Amerindian ancestry...

    )
  • Diaspora (Latin American Australian
    Latin American Australian
    Latin American Australian refers to Australian persons who were born in Latin America irrespective of their ancestral backgrounds, and their descendants...

    , Latin American British, Latin American Canadian, Hispanic and Latino Americans
    Hispanic and Latino Americans
    Hispanic or Latino Americans are Americans with origins in the Hispanic countries of Latin America or in Spain, and in general all persons in the United States who self-identify as Hispanic or Latino.1990 Census of Population and Housing: A self-designated classification for people whose origins...

    , Hispanic
    Hispanic
    Hispanic is a term that originally denoted a relationship to Hispania, which is to say the Iberian Peninsula: Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain. During the Modern Era, Hispanic sometimes takes on a more limited meaning, particularly in the United States, where the term means a person of ...

    , Latino
    Latino
    The demonyms Latino and Latina , are defined in English language dictionaries as:* "a person of Latin-American descent."* "A Latin American."* "A person of Hispanic, especially Latin-American, descent, often one living in the United States."...

    )
  • List of Latin Americans (List of Latin American artists, List of Latin American writers)
  • Latin American culture
    Latin American culture
    Latin American culture is the formal or informal expression of the peoples of Latin America, and includes both high culture and popular culture as well as religion and other customary practices....

  • Latin American studies
    Latin American Studies
    Latin American studies is an academic discipline dealing with the study of Latin America and Latin Americans.-Definition:Latin American studies critically examines the history, culture, politics, and experiences of Latin Americans in Latin America and often also elsewhere .Latin American studies...

  • Agroecology in Latin America
    Agroecology in Latin America
    Because of the ideological differences between industrial or mechanized agriculture and agroecology, its application has thus far been relatively limited in the U.S. . Latin America's experiences with North American Green Revolution, agricultural techniques have opened space for agroecologists...

  • Crime and Violence in Latin America
    Crime and Violence in Latin America
    Crime and violence are affecting the lives of millions of people in Latin America. Social inequality is considered one of the major causes of violence in Latin America, where the state fails to prevent crime and organized crime takes over State control in areas where the State is unable to assist...

  • List of Latin American subnational entities by Human Development Index
  • Latin America and the League of Nations
    Latin America and the League of Nations
    Nine Latin American nations became charter members of the League of Nations when it was founded in 1919. The number grew to fifteen states by the time the first League Assembly met in 1920 and later, several others joined in the decade that followed...



Latin American integration
Latin American integration
The integration of Latin America has a history going back to Spanish American and Brazilian independence, when there was discussion of creating a regional state or confederation of Latin American nations to protect the area's newly won autonomy...

  • Americas (terminology)
    Americas (terminology)
    The Americas, also known as America, are the lands of the western hemisphere, composed of numerous entities and regions variably defined by geography, politics, and culture....

      - Use of the word American
    Use of the word American
    The meaning of the word American in the English language varies, according to the historical, geographical, and political context in which it is used. It is derived from America, a term originally denoting all of the New World...

    • Pan-Americanism
      Pan-Americanism
      -History:The struggle for independence after 1810 by the Latin American nations evoked a sense of unity, especially in South America where, under Simón Bolívar in the north and José de San Martín in the south, there were cooperative efforts. Francisco Morazán briefly headed a Federal Republic of...

    • Free Trade Area of the Americas
      Free Trade Area of the Americas
      The Free Trade Area of the Americas , , ) was a proposed agreement to eliminate or reduce the trade barriers among all countries in the Americas but Cuba. In the last round of negotiations, trade ministers from 34 countries met in Miami, United States, in November 2003 to discuss the proposal...

    • Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas
      Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas
      The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America is an international cooperation organization based on the idea of social, political, and economic integration between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean...

    • United States-Latin American relations
      United States-Latin American relations
      During the Cold War era, the United States feared the spread of communism and, in some cases, overthrew democratically elected governments perceived at the time as becoming left-wing or unfriendly to U.S. interests. Examples include the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état, the 1973 Chilean coup d'état and...

  • Caribbean
    • Association of Caribbean States
      Association of Caribbean States
      The Association of Caribbean States was formed with the aim of promoting consultation, cooperation, and concerted action among all the countries of the Caribbean. It comprises twenty-five member states and four associate members...

    • Caribbean Community
      Caribbean Community
      The Caribbean Community is an organisation of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies. CARICOM's main purposes are to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, to ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared, and to coordinate foreign policy...

    • Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
      Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
      The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States , created in 1981, is an inter-governmental organisation dedicated to economic harmonisation and integration, protection of human and legal rights, and the encouragement of good governance between countries and dependencies in the Eastern Caribbean...

  • Central America
    Central America
    Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

    • Central American Integration System
      Central American Integration System
      Central American Integration System is the economic, cultural and political organization of Central American states since February 1, 1993. It was on December 13, 1991, however, when all the countries of the ODECA signed the Protocol of Tegucigalpa which extended the earlier cooperation in search...

  • North America
    • North American Free Trade Agreement
      North American Free Trade Agreement
      The North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA is an agreement signed by the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994. It superseded the Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement...

  • South America
    • South America Life Quality Rankings
    • South America Life Quality Rankings - Economy and Finance
    • South America Life Quality Rankings - Law and Justice
    • Union of South American Nations
    • Andean Community
    • Mercosur
      Mercosur
      Mercosur or Mercosul is an economic and political agreement among Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Founded in 1991 by the Treaty of Asunción, which was later amended and updated by the 1994 Treaty of Ouro Preto. Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people,...


External links