Latin America

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Latin America

Area 21,069,501 km²
Population 569 million[1]
Countries 21
Dependencies 10
GDP $3.33 Trillion (exchange rate)
$5.62 Trillion (purchasing power parity)
Languages Spanish, Portuguese, French, Quechua, Aymara, Nahuatl, Mayan languages, Guaraní, English, Haitian Creole, Papiamentu, Dutch, and many others
Time Zones UTC-2 (Brazil) to UTC-8 (Mexico)
Largest Urban Agglomerations[2][3] 1. Mexico City
2. São Paulo
3. Buenos Aires
4. Rio de Janeiro
5. Lima
6. Bogotá
7. Santiago
8. Belo Horizonte
9. Guadalajara
10. Porto Alegre

Latin America (Spanish: América Latina or Latinoamérica; Portuguese: América Latina; French: Amérique latine) is a region of the Americas where Romance languages (i.e., those derived from Latin) – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken.[4][5]


[edit] Definition

The distinction between Latin America and Anglo-America, and more generally the stress on European heritage (or Eurocentrism), is simply a convention by which Romance-language and English-speaking cultures are distinguished, currently being the predominant languages in the Americas. There are, of course, many places in the Americas (e.g. highland Ecuador, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Paraguay) where American Indian cultures and languages are predominant, as well as areas in which the influence of African cultures is strong (e.g. the Caribbean, including parts of Colombia and Venezuela, coastal Ecuador, and coastal Brazil).

U.S. influences shaped the cultures of Latin America, especially those of Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico as a U.S. territory. In addition, the U.S. held a territory in a swath of land in Panama over the 20-mile-long Panama Canal from 1903 (the canal opened to transoceanic freight traffic in 1914) to 1979 when the U.S. government agreed to give the territory back to Panama.

[edit] History

for a treatment of pre-Columbian civilizations and a general overview of the region's history.

A view of Machu Picchu, a pre-Columbian Inca site in Peru.

The Americas are thought to have been first inhabited by people crossing the Bering Land Bridge, now the Bering strait, from northeast Asia into Alaska more than 10,000 years ago. Over the course of millennia, people spread to all parts of the continents. By the first millennium AD/CE, 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[citation needed] from about 8000 BC and 4600 BC, a sedentary group from the coast of Ecuador, the forefathers of the more known Valdivia culture, of the same era. Some groups formed more permanent settlements such as the Chibchas (or "Muiscas" or "Muyscas") and the Tairona groups. The Chibchas of Colombia, the Quechuas of Peru, and the Aymaras of Bolivia were the three Indian groups that settled most permanently.

The region was home to many indigenous peoples and advanced civilizations, including the Aztecs, Toltecs, Caribs, Tupi, Maya, and Inca. The golden age of the Maya began about 250, with the last two great civilizations, the Aztecs and Incas, emerging into prominence later on in the early fourteenth century and mid-fifteenth centuries, respectively.

Archaelogical sites of Chichén-Itzá in Yucatán Mexico.

With the arrival of the Europeans following Christopher Columbus's voyages, the indigenous elites, such as the Incans and Aztecs, lost power to the Europeans. Hernán Cortés destroyed the Aztec elite's power with the help of local groups who disliked the Aztec elite, and Francisco Pizarro eliminated the Incan rule in Western South America. European powers, most notably 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 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, Europeans occupied large areas of North, Central and South America, extending all the way into the present southern United States. European culture and government was imposed, with the Roman Catholic Church becoming a major economic and political power, as well as the official religion of the region.

Diseases brought by the Europeans, such as smallpox and measles, wiped out a large proportion of the indigenous population, with epidemics of diseases reducing them sharply from their prior populations. 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 20%. 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 between the indigenous peoples and the European colonists was very common, and, by the end of the colonial period, people of mixed ancestry (mestizos) formed majorities in several colonies.

By the end of the eighteenth century, Spanish and Portuguese power waned as other European powers took their place, notably Britain and France. Resentment grew over the restrictions imposed by the Spanish government, as well as the dominance of native Spaniards (Iberian-born peninsulares) over the major institutions and the majority population, including the colonial-born Spaniards (criollos, Creoles). Napoleon's invasion of Spain in 1808 marked the turning point, compelling Creole elites to form juntas that advocated independence. Also, the newly independent Haiti, the second oldest nation in the New World 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 and José de San Martin, and by providing them with considerable munitions and troops.

Fighting soon broke out between the Juntas and the Spanish colonial authorities, with initial Creole victories, including Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in Mexico and Francisco de Miranda in Venezuela, crushed by the Spanish troops. Under the leadership of Simón Bolívar, José de San Martin and other Libertadores in South America, the independence movement regained strength, and by 1825, all Spanish Latin America, except for Puerto Rico and Cuba, gained independence from Spain. Brazil achieved independence with a constitutional monarchy established in 1822. During the same year in Mexico, a military officer, Agustín de Iturbide, led conservatives who created a constitutional monarchy, with Iturbide as emperor (followed by a republic, 1823).

[edit] Demographics

[edit] Racial groups

The population of Latin America is a composite of ancestries, ethnic groups, and races, making the region one of the most – if not the most – diverse in the world. The specific composition varies from country to country: Some have a predominance of a mixed population; in others, Amerindians are a majority; some are dominated by inhabitants of European ancestry; and some countries' populations are primarily of African descent. Most or all Latin American countries have Asian minorities. Europeans are the largest single group, and they and people of part-European ancestry combine for approximately 80% of the population.[1] In addition to the following groups, Latin America also has millions of triracial people of African, Amerindian, and European ancestry. Most are found in Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil, with a much smaller presence in a number of other countries.

[edit] Amerindians

Amerindians make up the majority of the population in Bolivia and Peru.

The aboriginal population of Latin America, the Amerindians, experienced tremendous population decline, particularly in the early decades of colonization. They have since recovered in numbers, surpassing sixty million, though they compose a majority in only two countries: Bolivia and Peru. In both Ecuador and Guatemala, Amerindians are large minorities comprising two–fifths of the population, while the next largest minority is in Mexico, with more than one–sixth the population. Most of the remaining countries have Amerindian minorities, in every case making up one–tenth or less of the population. In many countries, people of mixed Amerindian and European ancestry make up the majority of the population (see Mestizo).

[edit] Asians

Film maker Tizuka Yamasaki, one of over a million Japanese-Brazilians.

People of Asian descent number several million in Latin America. The first Asians to settle in the region were Filipino, as a result of Spain's trade involving Asia and the Americas. The majority of Asian Latin Americans are of Japanese or Chinese ancestry and reside mainly in Brazil and Peru. Brazil is home to 1.49 million people of Asian descent,[7][8] which includes the largest ethnic Japanese community outside of Japan itself, numbering 1.5 million. Peru, with 1.47 million people of Asian descent,[9][10] has one of the largest Chinese communities in the world, with nearly 1 million Peruvians being of Chinese ancestry. The Japanese community also maintains a strong presence in Peru, and a past President and a number of politicians are of Japanese descent in Peru.[11] Indians, Koreans, and Vietnamese are also among the largest ethnic Asian communities in the region. In the Panama Canal zone there is also a Chinese minority, who are mostly the descendants of migrant workers who built the Panama Canal.

[edit] Blacks or Africans

A significant percentage of Latin Americans are of African ancestry.

Millions of African slaves were brought to Latin America from the sixteenth century onward, the majority of whom were sent to the Caribbean region and Brazil. Today, people identified as black compose a majority in Haiti, significant minorities in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Belize, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Honduras, Panama and Puerto Rico, and small minorities in Guatemala, and Peru.

[edit] Mestizos

A representation of a Mestizo, in a Pintura de Castas during the Spanish colonial period of the Americas.

Intermixing between Europeans and Amerindians began early and was extensive. The resulting people, known as mestizos, make up the majority of the population in half of the countries of Latin America: Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, and Venezuela. Additionally, mestizos compose large minorities in nearly all the other mainland countries.

[edit] Mulattoes

Salsa dancers of Mulatto heritage, Camagüey, Cuba.

Mulattoes are biracial descendants of mixed European and African ancestry, mostly descended from Spanish or Portuguese settlers on one side and African slaves on the other during the colonial period. The vast majority of mulattoes are found in Brazil, and mulattoes form the majority in the Dominican Republic. Cuba and Colombia are the other countries with large numbers of mulattoes.[1] There is also a small presence of mulattoes in other Latin American countries.[1]

[edit] Whites or Europeans

Vicente Fox, A Latin American of European descent.

Beginning in the late fifteenth century, large numbers of Iberian colonists settled in what became Latin America — Portuguese in Brazil and Spaniards elsewhere in the region — and at present most white Latin Americans are of Spanish or Portuguese origin. Iberians brought the Spanish and Portuguese languages, the Catholic faith, and many Iberian traditions. In absolute numbers, Brazil has the largest population of whites in Latin America, followed by Argentina and Mexico (see White Latin American).

Millions of Europeans have immigrated to Latin America since most countries gained independence in the 1810s and 1820s, with most of the immigration occurring in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the bulk of the immigrants settling in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Chile.[12][13][14] Italians formed the largest group of immigrants, and next were Spaniards and Portuguese.[15] Many others arrived, such as Germans, Greeks, Poles, Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, Irish, and Welsh.

Latin American countries attracted European immigrants to work in agriculture, commerce and industry. Many Latin American governments encouraged immigrants from Europe to 'civilize' the region.[16] Despite their different origins, these immigrants integrated in the local societies and most of their descendants only speak Spanish or, in Brazil, Portuguese. For example, people of Italian descent make up half of Argentina's and Uruguay's populations, but only relatively small percentages of them are able to speak Italian. However, in Venezuela, where the population of Italian descent makes up about 400,000, about 1.5% of the total,[17] there is still a tendency of the communities to preserve the language, as do Germans and Portuguese. Also there are some communities of Germans and In Brazil, which has the biggest population of Italians outside of Italy[18][19] (São Paulo city alone has more Italians than Rome, the most populous Italian city),[20][21] Italians in the country's predominantly white south still preserve their languages.

Immigration from the Middle East took place also since the 19th century and consisted largely of Christians of Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian origin. Some countries have populations of Iranian and Pashtun descent (see Pashtun diaspora). Middle Easterners have generally assimilated into the European-descended population.

Garinagu (Zambos) celebrating in Guatemala.

[edit] Zambos

Slaves often ran away (cimarrones) and were taken in by Amerindian villagers. Intermixing between Africans and Amerindians produced descendants known as Zambos or (in Central America) Garinagu. This was especially prevalent in Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil.

[edit] Racial distribution

The following table shows the different racial groups and their percentages for all Latin American countries and territories.[22] For some countries, like Chile and Costa Rica, the white and mestizo percentages are combined in some sources.[1]

Country Population White Mestizo Mulatto Amerindian Black Mixed Other1
Argentina 40,301,927 86.4% 6.5% 3.4% 0.4%
Aruba 100,018 80.0% 20.0%
Belize 2 311,500 4.3% 33.8% 24.9% 10.6% 0.3% 6.1% 20.0%
Bolivia 9,119,152 10.0% 28.0% 62.0%
Brazil3 190,010,647 53.7% 7.4% 42.3% 0.8%
Chile4 16,800,000 22–52.7% 42.7% 4.6%
Colombia 44,379,598 20.0% 47.3% 23.0% 2.0% 6.0% 1.0%
Costa Rica 4,133,884 82.0% 15.0% 3.0% 1.0%
Cuba 11,177,743 65.1% 24.8% 10.1%
Dominican Republic 9,365,818 17.0% 69.5% 11.8% 1.7%
Ecuador 13,755,680 10.6% 42.0% 40.8% 5.0% 1.6%
El Salvador 6,948,073 1.6% 88.3% 9.1% 1.0%
French Guiana 199,509 8.0% 37.9% 8.0% 37.1% 9.0%
Guadeloupe 452,776 2.0% 76.7% 10.0% 10.0% 1.3%
Guatemala 12,728,111 5.0% 54.4% 40.5% 0.1%
Guyana 858,863 2.0% 9.4% 30.2% 16.7% 43.5%
Haiti 8,706,497 94.2% 5.4% 0.4%
Honduras 7,483,763 2.3% 86.6% 5.5% 4.3% 1.3%
Martinique 436,131 3.0% 93.4% 3.6%
Mexico 108,700,891 16.5% 64.3% 18.0% 0.5% 0.7%
Netherlands Antilles 223,652 5.3% 81.1% 13.6%
Nicaragua 5,675,356 14.0% 63.1% 4.0% 8.0% 5.0% 5.9%
Panama 3,309,679 17.0% 70 % 14.0% 6.7% 11.0% 5.0% 12.6%
Paraguay 6,669,086 9.3% 85.6% 1.8% 1.0% 2.3%
Peru 28,674,757 12.0% 31.9% 52.4% 3.7%
Puerto Rico 3,944,259 74.3% 10.0% 15.0% 0.7%
Saint Martin 33,102 100.0%
Saint Pierre and Miquelon 7,036 100.0%
Uruguay 3,460,607 87.4% 3% 8.4% 0.4%
Venezuela4 26,023,528 21.0% 2.0% 10.0% 67.0%
Total 562,461,667 34.8% 27.5% 17.4% 10.1% 5.4% 3.4% 1.4%
  • 1 May include one or more of the previous groups.
  • 2 "Other" includes census answer of Spanish which does not specify race; "mixed" includes the Garifuna (mixed Amerindian/black).[23]
  • 3According to data from PNAD 2007. The survey uses the term "Pardos", which includes Mullato and Mestizo. [24]
  • 4Various figures exist for the white population of Chile: 22%,[22] 30%–35%,[25] and 52.7%.[26] The white and mestizo percentages (the latter group said to be predominantly white and estimated to make up 65% of Chile's population)[25] are sometimes combined, so that Chile's population is classified as 95% white and mestizo in some sources.[1] The Amerindian population was 4.6% in the 2002 census.[27]
  • 5Venezuela 2005 census includes both mulatto and mestizo in "mixed"[28]

[edit] Language

Romance languages in Latin America: Green-Spanish; Orange-Portuguese; Blue-French

Spanish is the predominant language in the majority of Latin American countries. Portuguese is spoken primarily in Brazil, the most populous country in the region. French is spoken in some countries of the Caribbean, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and French Guiana and Haiti. Dutch is the official language of some Caribbean islands and in Suriname on the continent; however, as Dutch is a Germanic language, these territories are not considered part of Latin America.

Other European languages spoken in Latin America include: English, by some groups in Argentina, Belize, Nicaragua, Panama, and Puerto Rico; German, in southern Brazil, southern Chile, Argentina, and German-speaking villages in northern Venezuela and Paraguay; Italian, in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela; and Welsh, in southern Argentina.

Most widely spoken Pre-contact languages distribution area in Latin America, at the beginning of 21st century: Quechua, Guarani, Aymara, Nahuatl, Mayan languages, Mapuche

In several nations, especially in the Caribbean region, creole languages are spoken. The most widely spoken creole language in the Caribbean and Latin America in general is Haitian Creole, the predominant language of Haiti; 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. Native American languages are widely spoken in Peru, Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay, and to a lesser degree, in Mexico, Ecuador, and Chile. In absolute numbers, Mexico contains the largest population of indigenous-language speakers of any country in the Americas, surpassing those of the Amerindian-majority countries of Guatemala, Bolivia and the Amerindian-plurality country of Peru. In Latin American countries not named above, the population of speakers of indigenous languages is small or non-existent.

In Peru, Quechua is an official language, alongside Spanish and any other indigenous language in the areas where they predominate. In Ecuador, 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, Aymara, Quechua and Guaraní hold official status alongside Spanish. Guarani is, along with Spanish, an official language of Paraguay, 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 province of Corrientes. In Nicaragua, Spanish is the official language, but on the country's Caribbean coast English and indigenous languages such as Miskito, Sumo, and Rama also hold official status. Colombia recognizes all indigenous languages spoken within its territory as official, though fewer than 1% of its population are native speakers of these. Nahuatl 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.

[edit] Religion

Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) atop Corcovado mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The vast majority of Latin Americans are Christians, mostly Roman Catholics.[29] Membership in other denominations, like Protestantism, is increasing, particularly in countries such as Guatemala, Brazil, and Puerto Rico.[citation needed]

Indigenous creeds and rituals are still practiced in countries with large percentages of Amerindians, such as Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru. Various Afro-Latin American traditions such as Santería, Candomblé, Umbanda, Macumba, and tribal-voodoo religions are also practiced, mainly in Cuba, Brazil, and Haiti.

Brazil has an active quasi-socialist Roman Catholic movement known as Liberation Theology, and Brazil is also the country with more practitioners in the world of Allan Kardec's Spiritism. Practitioners of the Jewish, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Buddhist, Islamic, Hindu, and Bahá'í denominations and religions exist.

[edit] Emigration

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. About 10 million Mexicans live in the United States.[30] 28.3 million Americans listed their ancestry as Mexican as of 2006.[31] According to the 2005 Colombian census or DANE, about 3,331,107 Colombians currently live abroad.[32] The number of Brazilians living overseas is estimated at about 2 million people.[33] An estimated 1.5 to two million Salvadorans reside in the United States.[34] At least 1.5 million Ecuadorians have gone abroad, mainly to the United States and Spain.[35]. Approximately 1.5 million Dominicans live abroad, mostly in the US.[36] More than 1.3 million Cubans live abroad, most of them in the US.[37] It is estimated that over 800,000 Chileans live abroad, mainly in Argentina.[38] An estimated 700,000 Bolivians were living in Argentina as of 2006.[39]

Remittances to Mexico rose from $6.6 billion to $24 billion between 2000 and 2006, but stabilized in 2007. Much of the reported increase between 2000 and 2006 may reflect better accounting, but the slowdown in 2007 may reflect tougher U.S. border and interior enforcement.[citation needed]

[edit] Economy

[edit] Inequality and poverty

Torre Latinoamericana, Latin America's first skyscraper

Inequality and poverty continue to be the region's main challenges; according to the ECLAC Latin America is the most unequal region in the world.[40] Moreover, according to the World Bank, nearly 25% of the population lives on less than 2 USD a day. The countries with the highest inequality in the region (as measured with the Gini index in the UN Development Report[41]) in 2006 were Bolivia (60.1), Haiti (59.2), Colombia (58.6), Paraguay (58.4), Brazil (57.0) and Panama (56.1), while the countries with the lowest inequality in the region were Nicaragua (43.1), Uruguay (44.9) and Mexico (46.1). One aspect of inequality and poverty in Latin America is unequal access to basic infrastructure. For example, access to water and sanitation in Latin America and the quality of these services remain low.

[edit] Crime and Violence

Crime and violence prevention and public security have become key social issues of concern to public policy makers and citizens in the Latin American and Caribbean region. In Latin America, violence is now among the five main causes of death and is the principal cause of death in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico. Homicide rates in Latin America are among the highest of any region in the world. From the early 1980s through the mid-1990s, intentional homicide rates in Latin America 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.[42] 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 is fuelling crime in the region. But there is also no doubt that, on such an approach, Latin American countries have still a long way to go.[43] Countries with the highest homicide rate per year per 100,000 inhabitants were; El Salvador 55.3, Honduras 49.9, Venezuela 48, Guatemala 45.2, Colombia 37, Belize 30.8, Brazil 25.7, and Mexico 25. [44]

[edit] Trade blocs

The major trade blocs (or agreements) in the region are the Union of South American Nations, composed of the integrated Mercosur and Andean Community of Nations (CAN). Minor blocs or trade agreements are the G3, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and the Caribbean Community (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 Brazilian and Paraguayan legislatures). 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 (NAFTA). Chile has already signed an FTA with Canada, and along with Peru are the only two South American nations that have and FTA with the United States. Colombia's government is currently awaiting its ratification by the US Senate.

[edit] Standard of living, consumption, and the environment

View of Caracas in 1839; once a beautiful, colonial city of red-tiled roofs, the city is now a jungle of skyscrapers.

According to Goldman Sachs BRIMC review of emerging economies, by 2050 the largest economies in the world will be as follows: China, USA, India, Japan, Brazil, and Mexico; Two of the top five economies in the world being from Latin America. [45]

The following table lists all the countries in Latin America indicating a valuation of the country's GDP (Gross domestic product) based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP), 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 (HDI), the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), and the Quality-of-life index. GDP and PPP GDP statistics come from the International Monetary Fund with data as of 2006. Gini index, the Human Poverty Index HDI-1, the Human Development Index, 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 and the Quality-of-life index from The Economist Intelligence Unit. Green cells indicate the 1st rank in each category, while yellow indicate the last rank.

Country GDP valuation based on

Billions USD
GDP per


Gini index

HPI-1 %


of life[50]


ton CO2
 Argentina 570.526 14,354 51.3 4.1 0.860 (H) 81.8 6.469 8.7 3.7
 Bolivia 43.446 4,332 60.1 13.6 0.723 (M) 64.7 5.492 4.6 0.8
 Brazil 1,975.904 10,298 57.0 9.7 0.807 (H) 82.7 6.470 5.4 1.8
 Chile 246.482 14,688 54.9 3.7 0.874 (H) 83.4 6.789 5.1 3.9
 Colombia 402.458 8,336 58.6 7.9 0.787 (M) 88.3 6.176 7.7 1.2
 Costa Rica 48.918 10,832 49.8 4.4 0.847 (H) 90.5 6.624 7.3 1.5
 Cuba[53] N/A N/A N/A 4.7 0.855 (H) 80.7 N/A N/A 2.3
 Dominican Republic 76.194 8,558 51.6 10.5 0.768 (M) 83.0 5.630 8.5 2.2
 Ecuador 104.669 7,518 53.6 8.7 0.807 (H) 84.4 6.272 2.5 2.2
 El Salvador 43.885 6,052 52.4 15.1 0.747 (M) 77.2 6.164 4.7 0.9
 Guatemala 66.839 4,899 55.1 22.5 0.696 (M) 76.7 5.321 5.7 1.0
 Haiti 11.681 1,292 59.2 59.2 0.521 (M) 60.7 4.090 3.2 0.2
 Honduras 32.670 4,085 53.8 16.5 0.714 (M) 75.4 5.250 6.3 1.1
 Mexico 1,550.257 14,581 46.1 6.8 0.842 (H) 79.8 6.766 3.2 5.2
 Nicaragua 16.751 2,704 43.1 17.9 0.710 (M) 73.4 5.663 3.8 0.7
 Panama 38.305 11,255 56.1 8.0 0.832 (H) 83.1 6.361 11.5 1.8
 Paraguay 29.336 4,767 58.4 8.8 0.752 (M) 77.7 5.756 6.8 0.7
 Peru 244.693 8,584 52.0 11.6 0.788 (M) 78.1 6.216 8.9 1.1
 Uruguay 40.663 12,707 44.9 3.5 0.859 (H) 82.3 6.368 7.4 1.6
 Venezuela 362.772 12,933 48.2 8.8 0.826 (H) 80.0 6.089 8.4 6.6

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

[edit] Largest economic cities

The following table provides GDP figures for the largest Latin American cities and their surrounding urban areas in 2005. GDP figures are estimated and expressed in USD, using purchasing power parity exchange rates:[54][55]

Rank Metropolitan area Country GDP (Billions PPP) Population (Millions) GDP Per Capita (Thousands PPP)
1 Mexico City  Mexico 315 19.4 $16,237
2 Buenos Aires  Argentina 245 12.6 $19,444
3 São Paulo  Brazil 225 18.3 $12,295
4 Rio de Janeiro  Brazil 141 11.5 $12,260
5 Santiago  Chile 91 7.0 $13,000
6 Bogota  Colombia 86 7.8 $11,025
7 Monterrey  Mexico 78 3.9 $20,000
8 Lima  Peru 67 8.5 $7,882
9 Belo Horizonte  Brazil 65 5.6 $11,607
10 Guadalajara  Mexico 60 4.1 $14,634

[edit] Tourism

Income from tourism aids development in Latin America. Mexico receives the largest number of tourists, with 21.4 million visitors in 2007, followed by Brazil, with 5.0 million; Argentina, with 4.6 million; Dominican Republic, with 4.0 million; and Puerto Rico, with 3.7 million.[56]

Places such as Machu Pichu, Cartagena de Indias, Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco, Rio de Janeiro, Margarita Island, Cancún, São Paulo, Punta del Este, Santo Domingo, Labadee, San Juan, La Habana, Panama City, Iguazu Falls, Puerto Vallarta, Poás Volcano National Park, Punta Cana, Viña del Mar, Mexico City, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima, and Patagonia are among the most visited places in the region.[citation needed]

[edit] Culture

The mosaic of Latin American cultural expressions is the product of many diverse influences:

  • Native cultures of the peoples that inhabited the continents prior to the arrival of the Europeans.
  • European cultures, brought mainly by the Spanish, the Portuguese and the French. 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. The most enduring European colonial influence was language. Italian influence has been important as well.
  • African cultures, whose presence derives from a long history of New World slavery. Peoples of African descent have influenced the ethno-scapes of Latin America and the Caribbean. This is manifest for instance in dance and religion, especially in countries such as Belize, Brazil, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Haiti, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Cuba.

[edit] Literature

Colombian writer García Márquez signing a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude in Havana, Cuba.

Pre-Columbian cultures were primarily oral, though the Aztecs and Mayans, for instance, produced elaborate codices. 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. Moreover, a tradition of oral narrative survives to this day, for instance among the Quechua-speaking population of Peru and the Quiché 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's letters or Bernal Díaz del Castillo'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 literary tradition emerged, including the first novels such as Lizardi's El Periquillo Sarniento (1816).

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, interviewed in 1971.

The 19th Century was a period of "foundational fictions" (in critic Doris Sommer's words), novels in the Romantic or Naturalist 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's Facundo (1845), Juan León Mera's Cumandá (1879), or Euclides da Cunha's Os Sertões (1902)).

At the turn of the 20th century, modernismo emerged, a poetic movement whose founding text was Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío'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, for instance, though a Cuban patriot, also lived in Mexico and the U.S. and wrote for journals in Argentina and elsewhere.

Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes

However, what really put Latin American literature on the global map was no doubt the literary boom of the 1960s and 1970s, distinguished by daring and experimental novels (such as Julio Cortázar's Rayuela (1963)) that were frequently published in Spain and quickly translated into English. The Boom's defining novel was Gabriel García Márquez's Cien años de soledad (1967), which led to the association of Latin American literature with magic realism, though other important writers of the period such as the Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa and Carlos Fuentes do not fit so easily within this framework. Arguably, the Boom's culmination was Augusto Roa Bastos's monumental Yo, el supremo (1974). In the wake of the Boom, influential precursors such as Juan Rulfo, Alejo Carpentier, and above all Jorge Luis Borges were also rediscovered.

Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges.

Contemporary literature in the region is vibrant and varied, ranging from the best-selling Paulo Coelho and Isabel Allende to the more avant-garde and critically acclaimed work of writers such as Diamela Eltit, Ricardo Piglia, or Roberto Bolaño. There has also been considerable attention paid to the genre of testimonio, texts produced in collaboration with subaltern subjects such as Rigoberta Menchú. Finally, a new breed of chroniclers is represented by the more journalistic Carlos Monsiváis and Pedro Lemebel.

The region boasts five Nobel Prizewinners: in addition to the two Chilean poets Gabriela Mistral (1945) and Pablo Neruda (1971), there is also the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez (1982), the Guatemalan novelist Miguel Ángel Asturias (1967), and the Mexican poet and essayist Octavio Paz (1990).

[edit] Art

Palace of Fine Arts, built in the early 20th century in Mexico City.

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. The Movement quickly spread from Russia to Europe and then into Latin America. Joaquin Torres Garcia and Manuel Rendón have been credited with bringing the Constructivist Movement into Latin America from Europe.

Presencia de América Latina (Presence of Latin America), by Mexican muralist Jorge González Camarena. Located in the lobby of the Casa del Arte, University of Concepción in Concepción, Chile.

An important artistic movement generated in Latin America is Muralismo represented by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco and Rufino Tamayo in Mexico and Santiago Martinez Delgado and Pedro Nel Gómez in Colombia. Some of the most impressive Muralista works can be found in Mexico, Colombia, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

Mexican painter Frida Kahlo is one of the most known and famous Latin American artists.[citation needed] She painted about her own life and the Mexican culture in a style combining Realism, Symbolism and Surrealism. Kahlo's work commands the highest selling price of all Latin American paintings.[57]

Colombian sculptor and painter Fernando Botero 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.

[edit] Music and dance

Colombians dancing "La Pollera" in the Carnival of Barranquilla,the second largest in the world after Brazilian Carnival

Latin America has produced many successful worldwide artists in terms of recorded global music sales. The most successful have been Roberto Carlos who has sold over 100 million records, Carlos Santana with over 75 million, Luis Miguel, Shakira and Vicente Fernandez with over 50 million records sold worldwide. [58]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. 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, and more recently reggaeton, from such countries as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, 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.[59][60]

Another well-known Latin American musical genre includes the Argentine and Uruguayan tango, as well as the distinct nuevo tango, a fusion of tango, acoustic and electronic music popularized by bandoneón virtuoso Ástor Piazzolla. Equally renown, the samba, North American jazz, European classical music and choro combined to form bossa nova in Brazil, popularized by guitarrist João Gilberto and pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Other influential Latin American sounds include the Antillean Soca and Calypso, the Central American (Garifuna) Punta, the Colombian cumbia and vallenato, the Chilean Cueca, the Ecuadorian Boleros, and Rockoleras, the Mexican ranchera, the Nicaraguan Palo de Mayo, the Peruvian Marinera and Tondero, the Uruguayan Candombe, the French Antillean Zouk (Derived from Haitian Compas) and the various styles of music from Pre-Columbian traditions that are widespread in the Andean region.

A couple dances Argentine Tango.

The classical composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (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.[61] Also notable is the recent work of the Cuban Leo Brouwer and guitar work of the Venezuelan Antonio Lauro and the Paraguayan Agustín Barrios. Latin America has also produced world-class classical performers such as the Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau, Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire and the Argentine pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim.

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, Chabuca Granda, Atahualpa Yupanqui, Violeta Parra, Victor Jara, Mercedes Sosa, Jorge Negrete, Luiz Gonzaga, Caetano Veloso, Susana Baca, Chavela Vargas, Simon Diaz, Julio Jaramillo, Toto la Momposina as well as musical ensembles such as Inti Illimani and Los Kjarkas are magnificent examples of the heights that this soul can reach.

Latin pop, including many forms of rock, is popular in Latin America today (see Spanish language rock and roll).[62]

More recently, Reggaeton, which blends Jamaican reggae and dancehall with Latin America genres such as bomba and plena, as well as that of hip hop, 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, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico.[63]

[edit] Film

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

Latin American cinema flourished after the introduction of sound, 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, led by the Argentine filmmakers Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino. More recently, a new style of directing and stories filmed has been tagged as "New Latin American Cinema."

Argentine cinema has 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 winner The Official Story 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 around 2001. Many Argentine movies produced during recent years have been internationally acclaimed, including Nueve reinas (2000), El abrazo partido (2004) and El otro (2007).

In Brazil, the Cinema Novo 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 (1999), Cidade de Deus (2003) and Tropa de Elite (2007).

Cuban cinema has enjoyed much official support since the Cuban revolution and important film-makers include Tomás Gutiérrez Alea.

Mexican cinema in the Golden Era of the 1940s boasted a huge industry comparable to Hollywood at the time. Stars included María Félix, Dolores del Rio and Pedro Infante. In the 1970s Mexico was the location for many cult horror and action movies. More recently, films such as Amores Perros (2000) and Y tu mamá también (2001) enjoyed box office and critical acclaim and propelled Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñarritu to the front rank of Hollywood directors. Alejandro González Iñárritu directed in (2006) Babel and Alfonso Cuarón directed (Children of Men in (2006), and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in (2004)). Guillermo del Toro close friend and also a front rank Hollywood director in Hollywood and Spain, directed Pan's Labyrinth (2006) and produce El Orfanato (2007). Carlos Carrera (The Crime of Father Amaro), and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga are also some of the most known present-day Mexican film makers. Rudo y Cursi released in December (2008) in Mexico directed by Carlos Cuarón.

It is also worth noting that many Latin Americans have achieved significant success within Hollywood, for instance Carmen Miranda and Salma Hayek, while Mexican Americans such as Robert Rodriguez have also made their mark.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes and references

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  2. ^ "2007 UN report on urban agglomerations.". 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Colburn, Forrest D (2002). Latin America at the End of Politics. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691091811.,M1. 
  5. ^ "Latin America." The New Oxford Dictionary of English. Pearsall, J., ed. 2001. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; p. 1040: "The parts of the American continent where Spanish or Portuguese is the main national language (i.e. Mexico and, in effect, the whole of Central and South America including many of the Caribbean islands)."
  6. ^ Chasteen, John Charles (2001). Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America. W. W. Norton. page156. ISBN 0393976130. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ MOFA: Japan-Brazil Relations
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ MOFA: Japan-Brazil Relations
  12. ^ Social Identity Marta Fierro Social Psychologist.
  13. ^ massive immigration of European Argentina Uruguay Chile Brazil
  14. ^ Latinoamerica.
  15. ^ "South America :: Postindependence overseas immigrants". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 2008-02-10. 
  16. ^ As políticas públicas de imigração européia não-portuguesa para o Brasil – de Pombal à República
  17. ^ italianos.
  18. ^ italplanet
  19. ^ Gli italiani in Brasile
  20. ^ Especiais - Agência Brasil
  21. ^ Biggest Cities Italy
  22. ^ a b "World". 
  23. ^ "Belize 2000 Housing and Population Census". Belize Central Statistical Office. 2000. Retrieved on 2008-09-09. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ a b "5.2.6. Estructura racial". La Universidad de Chile. Retrieved on 2007-08-26. 
  26. ^ "Composición Étnica de las Tres Áreas Culturales del Continente Americano al Comienzo del Siglo XXI" (PDF). 110.,M1. 
  27. ^ Pueblos Indígenas en Chile - Censo 2002 - Instituto Nacional de Estadística INE
  28. ^ Oficinas Comerciales
  29. ^ "CIA - The World Factbook -- Field Listing - Religions". Retrieved on 2009-03-17. 
  30. ^ Watching Over Greater Mexico: Mexican Migration Policy and Governance of Mexicanos Abroad
  31. ^ "Detailed Tables - American FactFinder. B03001. Hispanic or Latino origin by specific origin". 2006 American Community Survey. Retrieved on 2007-12-15. 
  32. ^
  33. ^ Brasileiros no Exterior — Portal da Câmara dos Deputados
  34. ^ Country Overview: El Salvador, United States Agency for International Development
  35. ^ Chavistas in Quito,, January 7, 2008
  36. ^ Dominican Republic: Remittances for Development
  37. ^ Cubans Abroad,
  38. ^ Chile: Moving Towards a Migration Policy, Migration Information Source
  39. ^ Migration News
  40. ^ La región sigue siendo la más desigual del mundo, según Cepal América Economía
  41. ^ a b Human Development Report, UNDP
  42. ^ World Bank Group - 404 error
  43. ^ BBC NEWS | Americas | Latin America: Crisis behind bars
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  46. ^ a b International Monetary Fund [2]
  47. ^ UNDP Human Development Report 2007/2008. "Table 3: Human poverty index: developing countries" (PDF). Retrieved on 2008-03-20.  page 238-240
  48. ^ UNDP Human Development Report 2007/2008. "Table 1: Human Development Index" (PDF). Retrieved on 2008-03-20.  page 229-232
  49. ^ Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy / Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University. "Environmental Performance Index 2008". Retrieved on 2008-03-13. 
  50. ^ The Economist Pocket World in Figures 2008. "Quality-of-life index The World in 2005" (PDF). Retrieved on 2008-03-13. 
  51. ^ UNDP Human Development Report 2007/2008. "Table 13: economic higher". Retrieved on 2008-03-20.  page 273-276
  52. ^ UNDP Human Development Report 2007/2008. "Table 24: Carbon dioxide emissions and stocks" (PDF). Retrieved on 2008-03-23.  page 310-313
  53. ^ The IMF does not report statistics for Cuba. Data from the CIA World Factbook is used
  54. ^ PriceWaterhouseCoopers, "UK Economic Outlook, March 2007", page 5. ""Table 1.2 – Top 30 urban agglomeration GDP rankings in 2005 and illustrative projections to 2020 (using UN definitions and population estimates)"" (PDF). Retrieved on 2007-03-09. 
  55. ^ 150 Richest Cities in the World, 2005
  56. ^ UNTWO (June 2008). "UNTWO World Tourism Barometer, Vol.5 No.2" (PDF). Retrieved on 2008-10-15. 
  57. ^ "Frida Kahlo " Roots " Sets $5.6 Million Record at Sotheby's". Art Knowledge News.$5.6_Million_Record-at-Sothebys.html. Retrieved on 2007-09-23. 
  58. ^
  59. ^ Dr. Christopher Washburne. "Clave: The African Roots of Salsa". University of Salsa. Retrieved on 2006-05-23. 
  60. ^ "Guide to Latin Music". Caravan Music. Retrieved on 2006-05-23. 
  61. ^ "Heitor Villa-Lobos". Leadership Medica. Retrieved on 2006-05-23. 
  62. ^ The Baltimore Sun. "Latin music returns to America with wave of new pop starlets". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved on 2006-05-23. 
  63. ^ "Daddy Yankee leads the reggaeton charge". Associated Press. Retrieved on 2006-05-23. 

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