It is strange because the phrase “Latin America” has different connotations for different people. For some when they hear the words “Latin America,” they think of only Central America, South America seeming to be a different distinct entity that does not correlate within their brains. Not to mention the Caribbean as being a whole other topic.
Although this should have been addressed at the inception of this blog, it went unrealized the vagueness and miss understanding of what the words “Latin America” mean. There are four main sub-regions within Latin America: North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.
Terminology of Latin America, region of Romance Languages:
Latin America: Hispanic America + Brasil + Haiti (founded as a French Colony)
Hispanic America: the nineteen countries that speak Spanish within Latin America, originally colonized by fleets from Spain.
- North America: Mexico
- Central America: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama
- Carribean: Cuba, Dominican Republic + Puerto Rico
- South America: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia (Andean Countries), Paraguay, Argentina, Urugauy, and Chile (Countries in the Southern Cone)
Ibero-America: Hispanic America + Brasil
Then there is Ibero-America, which is a term referencing to the region that originated from the Iberian Peninsula. Ibero-America’s significance stems from the Portuguese and Spanish who dominated and took over that region, with the odd exception of Suriname in the Northern part of the continent, which is predominantly a Dutch speaking country.
In the Western Hemisphere the Spanish, Portuguese and French colonies originally established are what now comprise Latin America.The region is about twice the size of the total area of the United States, about 21 million kilometers, extending almost 6,000 miles north to south. About 80 percent of the Latin America region is situated in the tropical or subtropical zone.
Within Mexico, there is the Mexican Plateau in the Sierra Madre Mountain range. The topography in Central America is complicated, comprised of plains, valleys, and mountains.
As known, the Caribbean has an amazing climate and is based off of Las Antillas, the mountain range which created the islands. About 35 percent of the region is mountainous. The beaches are also magnificent and bring in the most tourism to the region.
In South America, on the west coast the great Andes Mountains extend from Venezuela all the way to the bottom of the continent creating the border between Chile and Argentina. Not to mention the area of Patagonia, a glacier range shared between Argentina and Chile that is a part of the Andes Mountains. There is the Amazon Region in the north central area of South America and Pampas, great plains within Argentina.
There are also great arid regions on the other western side of the Andes as most of the pacific coast is more arid. There is the Atacama Desert which is the driest non-polar desert in the world which is situated in Chile and parts of southern Peru, Bolivia, and the North Eastern corner of Argentina.
As far as ethnic composition, there is not a specific race within the region, only a “racial rainbow.” The main races are: indigenous, white, and black. The more Caucasian races dominate in countries like, Argentina, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and more than 50 percent of the population in Brasil.
In countries like Bolivia and Guatemala, the indigenous population accounts for more than 50 percent of the population. Peru and Ecuador have around 40 percent of their population being indigenous.
The population of people of African descent is the largest in only one region, and that region is Haiti. However the mulato population is a big part of The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Cuba as well.
In general, racial mixing is very common, since the arrival of the conquistadors and when mass amounts of immigration to the region began to occur through history.
For example, many Germans migrated to Argentina and Brasil in the 1900’s, Chinese to Cuba and Peru, Japanese all over Brasil and people of Syrian and Lebanese descent to Chile, Colombia, and the Caribbean.
Latin America is greatly held together as one entity by its language origins and cultures. Most Latin American countries became independent one after the other within the 1800’s. Since then they have all faced similar development issues in striving to fix inequality and poverty within the countries, while pursuing economic advancement. Often the people and the physical environment have suffered from the movement to free trade and the mass production/harvest of goods from the region.
However, most regions in Latin America, especially in the sub-region of South America, have hit a pinnacle point in which they are no longer subject to the market and other countries. As seen, Latin America is extremely diverse physically and demographically; these factors have begun to work in a way that is creating a new strength and social identity for most of the countries.
Latin America has all the resources; it just needs the right leadership and partnerships to stimulate a system of sustainable development.