Latin America

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Latin America (political)

Latin America is a geocultural region consisting of countries on the continents of North America, South America , and some of the islands of the Caribbean, whose inhabitants mostly speak Romance languages (languages decended from Latin). Native American languages are also spoken. Strictly speaking the term Latin America could conceivably be applied to all regions of the Americas whose inhabitants speak either Spanish or Portuguese, or French, however all Romance speaking regions north of Mexico (ex/Quebec) are usually excluded.

Latin America is divided into 33 independent countries and 13 other political units. Brazil is by far the largest country in Latin America both in area and in population. It occupies more than 40 percent of the region's land area and has about a third of its people.

The United States, Anglophone Canada, Belize, Guyana, and several islands in the Caribbean, who have as their main language English and therefore do not belong to Latin America, may be grouped under the term Anglo-America. Suriname and the Dutch West Indies, where the official language is Dutch, also do not belong to Latin America. (On the Dutch West Indies the Latin creole Papiamento is much more spoken than Dutch.)

There are many languages historically and currently spoken in Latin America: Aymara, Creole/Patois, Guarani, Tupi, Tupinamba, Mapudungun, Mayan, Nahuatl, Portuguese, Quechua, Spanish, Sranan, and many others.

Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, and Romania are all considered Latin countries, which is where the term comes from. In general terms, roughly two thirds of Latin Americans speak Spanish and one third Portuguese, in accord with those countries' success in colonizing the Americas.

The primary religion throughout Latin America is Roman Catholicism, but one can also find practicioners belonging to Protestant, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Buddhist, Jewish, indigenous, and various Afro-Latin American traditions, such as Santería, Candomblé, and Macumba.

A large percentage of the people in Latin America are of mixed blood, the result of racial intermingling among European settlers, African slaves, and American natives. This mixture of backgrounds ("Mestizaje") has profoundly influenced religion, music, and politics, and given rise to a holistic description of those belonging to these mixed cultures: Latinos are those of Latin American heritage.

Etymological note: Treating the term literally, one might expect the term to apply to cultures and regions in the Americas deriving from cultures speaking Romance languages (those descended from Latin). However, French-speaking areas of the Americas, such as Quebec and Acadia in Canada, are not generally considered part of Latin America. Yet this was the original intention of the term. "Latin America" was first proposed during the French occupation of Mexico (1862-1867), when Napoleon III supported Archduke Maximilian's pretensions to be emperor of Mexico. The French hoped that an inclusive notion of "Latin" America would support their cause. Mexican citizens eventually expelled the French while retaining the term "Latino", in one of history's more charming ironies.

The alternative term Iberoamerica is sometimes used to refer to the nations that were formerly colonies of Spain and Portugal, as these two countries are located on the Iberian peninsula. The Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI) takes this defintion a step further, by including Spain and Portugal (often termed the Mother Countries of Latin America) among its member states, in addition to their Spanish and Portuguese speaking former colonies in America.


Countries of Latin America

Latin America, taking the term in its strict sense, is made up of the following countries:

History of Latin American countries

Main article: History of Latin America

Living standards

Below is a table showing the Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita at purchasing power parity (PPP) prices and the GDP (PPP) of each of the Latin American countries. This can be used as a rough gauge to the relative standards of living in the region. Data is from the year 2005.

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GNI per capita (PPP)
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Country GDP (PPP) per capita GDP (PPP)
international dollars millions of international dollars
Template:ARG 13,153 516,951
Template:CHI 11,537 186,733
Template:CRC 10,316 44,579
Template:MEX 10,090 1,064,889
Template:URU 9,619 32,885
Template:BRA 8,745 1,552,542
Template:PAN 7,327 22,706
Template:COL 7,303 336,808
Template:DOM 7,055 63,594
Template:VEN 5,801 153,331
Template:PER 5,594 164,110
Template:PAR 4,663 29,014
Template:SLV 4,525 31,171
Template:GUA 4,136 56,736
Template:ECU 4,010 56,779
Template:BOL 3,049 25,892
Template:CUB 3,000 33,920
Template:HON 2,793 20,549
Template:NIC 2,779 16,052
Template:HAI 1,614 14,118
Latin America 8,105 4,421,569

Sources: Data from table is from an April 2005 report by the IMF and graphics data is from data by the World Bank from 2003 [1] ( Data for Cuba is a 2004 estimate from the CIA World Factbook. GDP (PPP) per capita for Latin America was calculated using population data from List of countries by population

Other Places in America Where Latin-Decended Languages Are Spoken

The following non-independent territories in the Western Hemisphere also speak languages decended from Latin:

See also

External links

da:Latinamerika de:Lateinamerika es:América Latina eo:Latin-Ameriko fr:Amérique latine gl:América Latina it:America Latina minnan:Latin Bí-chiu nl:Latijns-Amerika ja:ラテンアメリカ no:Latin-Amerika pl:Ameryka Łacińska pt:América Latina ru:Латинская Америка simple:Latin America sv:Latinamerika th:ละตินอเมริกา zh:拉丁美洲


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