Latin America is a region of the Americas. People do not completely agree which countries are in Latin America, but normally, it is the parts where Spanish and Portuguese are spoken (South America, Central America, and Mexico). Sometimes the Caribbean Islands are also included. Other people call all American countries where people speak Spanish, Portuguese, and French Latin America.
The words Latin America come from the use of languages that came from Latin. The Spanish, Portuguese, and French languages, spoken by many people in Latin America, are Romance languages. Romance languages are derived from Latin. Not all people in Latin America speak Romance languages, some Latin American people speak English like Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago or Belize. Suriname speaks Dutch and many countries have a large population that speaks Native American languages. Paraguay is the only country that has a native language as its official language, which is the Guarany language.
Most Latin Americans are Roman Catholic.
Demographics[change | change source]
Ethnic groups[change | change source]
The population of Latin America comprises various ethnic groups and races, making this continent the most diverse in the world today. The majority of Latin Americans are Mestizo (European-Native American); while some are dominated by Native Americans, others are dominated by people from Europe; and some others are Mulatto, Black, Zambo, and Asian. European/Whites are the largest single ethnic group, they and people of part-European makeup about as much as 80% of the Latin American population, possibly even more.
- Native American. The Native population in Latin America, came during the Lithic stage. They number in more than sixty million (by some experts). They makeup the majority only in Bolivia, Peru, and Guatemala. In Ecuador the Indeginous population is a large minority of about 1/4 of the population. Mexico's pure to almost pure Native American population is nearly 30% (with 9.8% to 15% being of pure blood), and is also one of the largest American Indian population in the Americas in terms of absolute numbers. Most of the remaining countries have Native American minorities.
- European. In the 1500s, large numbers of Iberian colonists came to what is now Latin America. Today, most White Latin Americans are of Spanish and Portuguese origin. The Iberians brought their language, religion, and culture to Latin America. Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Colombia contains the largest numbers of Whites in Latin America. Whites makeup the majorities of Uruguay, Argentina, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Chile. In Brazil, whites makeup over half of the population, 53.8%. Therefore with over 100 million people descendants of european whites, Brazil accounts for nearly two thirds of all the whites in the Latin America. The rest of the remaining countries have a White minority (small or large).
- African. Millions of African slaves were brought to the Americas from the early 1500s onward. The majority went to the Caribbean and Brazil. Among the Hispanic nations and Brazil, Haiti is the only country in Latin America with a Black or Mulatto majority of about 90-100%. Significant populations include Cuba (35%), Dominican Republic (25%), Puerto Rico (23%), Colombia (19%), and Venezuela (12%). The remaining countries have a Black minority (small or large), Panama has the largest Black population of Central America with about 14% of Panamanians being Black/Mulattoe.
- Asian. People of Asian descent number several millions in Latin America. The majority of Asian Latin Americans are of Japanese and Chinese heritage, and they mostly live in Peru and Brazil. The largest community of Japanese ethnicity living outside of Japan, resides in Brazil. There is also a growing Chinese population in Panama, as well as Costa Rica (though, Chinese Costa Ricans are a large minority). In the Dominican Republic, there is a place where large numbers of Japanese people came; most Japanese Dominicans live in towns such as Bonao and Santo Domingo (though in the Capital's mostly comprised with Chinese people). Asian Latin Americans are also found anywhere in the Caribbean and other Latin American countries.
- Arab or Middle Eastern. Arabs in Latin America are also many, but they are mostly found among the Hispanic-Caribbean regions. In Cuba and Puerto Rico, the Arab population are actually in-blood lines of the Canarians and Southern Spaniards that colonized them. In the Dominican Republic, the Arabs arrived sometime between the 19th and 20th century; they makeup about 5% of Dominicans (most are Morracians, Lebanese and East Indians). Arabs are also many in Peru and Venezuela.
- NOTE: Most of these ethnic groups can be found anywhere in Latin America; but since most Latin Americans are of mixed-race, many of these ethnic groups do not reach 100%.
The bottom chart is an accurate estimate, since all of these countries were tested for DNA genetics among the local people who have more than 3 generations in their home country of origin since the year 2000. So regardless of age, anyone who was born before or after will be tested, but will only count with their ancestors for 3 generations before the year 2000.
- Population estimates from DNA genetics of Latin American Countries:
Note: Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States.
Language[change | change source]
Spanish and Portuguese are the dominant languages of Latin America. Portuguese dominates Brazil. Spanish is the official language of most other Latin America mainland countries, and of Cuba, Puerto Rico (along with English), and the Dominican Republic.
African languages are also spoken by few in Latin America. The west African Yoruba language (known as Lucumi) is spoken among the people of predominant Yoruba ancestry; it is spoken in Cuba where it is a ritual language used by the Santeria prayers.
In several nations, Creole languages are also spoken, especially in the Caribbean. Palenquero is the Spanish-based Creole language spoken in Colombia by some 3,000 people, it is Spanish with many African influences and some Portuguese influence. Other creoles in mainland Latin America have the same roots, blending Spanish with either African or Indigenous languages or both, as Cuban Spanish does.
Economy[change | change source]
Poverty and inequality[change | change source]
Poverty continues to be one of the biggest challenges for Latin American countries. According to estimates, Latin America is the most unequal regions of the world.
According to a Country Studies Institute the poorest countries in the region (in 2011) were: Haiti, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Honduras. Undernourishment affects 72% of Haitians, 47% of Nicaraguans and Bolivians, and 32% of Hondurans.
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
- Colburn, Forrest D (2002). Latin America at the End of Politics. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691091811.
- Lizcano Fernández, Francisco (May–August 2005). "Composición Étnica de las Tres Áreas Culturales del Continente Americano al Comienzo del Siglo XXI" (in Spanish) (PDF). Convergencia (Mexico: Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, Centro de Investigación en Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades) 38: 185–232; table on p. 218. ISSN 1405-1435. http://convergencia.uaemex.mx/rev38/38pdf/LIZCANO.pdf.
Other websites[change | change source]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Latin America.|
- The Washington Post Interactive Map of Politics in Latin America
- Andean Community official webpage
- Council on Hemispheric Affairs
- Latin American Network Information Center
- Latin America Working Group
- Washington Office on Latin America
- Politics in Latin America
- Infolatam. Information and analysis of Latin America