Latin America is generally understood to consist of the entire continent of South America in addition to Mexico, Central America, and the islands of the Caribbean whose inhabitants speak a Romance language.

Latin America is a group of countries and dependencies in the Americas where Romance languages are predominant. The term originated in 19th century France as Amérique latine to consider French-speaking territories in the Americas (Haiti, French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Saint Barthélemy) along with the larger group of countries where Spanish and Portuguese languages prevailed. It is therefore broader than the terms Ibero-America or Hispanic America—though it usually excludes French Canada and modern French Louisiana.

Latin America consists of nineteen sovereign states and several territories and dependencies which cover an area that stretches from the northern border of Mexico to the southern tip of South America, including the Caribbean. It has an area of approximately 19,197,000 km2 (7,412,000 sq mi), almost 13% of the Earth's land surface area. As of 2015, its population was estimated at more than 626 million and in 2014, Latin America had a combined nominal GDP of 5,573,397 million USD and a GDP PPP of 7,531,585 million USD. The term "Latin America" was first used in 1861 in La revue des races Latines, a magazine "dedicated to the cause of Pan-Latinism".

The peoples of this large area shared the experience of conquest and colonization by the Spaniards and Portuguese from the late 15th through the 18th century as well as movements of independence from Spain and Portugal in the early 19th century. Even since independence, many of the various nations have experienced similar trends, and they have some awareness of a common heritage. However, there are also enormous differences between them. Not only do the people live in a large number of independent units, but the geography and climate of their countries vary immensely. The inhabitants’ social and cultural characteristics differ according to the constitution of the occupants before the Iberian conquest, the timing and nature of European occupation, and their varying material endowments and economic roles.

Since the Spanish and Portuguese element looms so large in the history of the region, it is sometimes proposed that Iberoamerica would be a better term than Latin America. Latin seems to suggest an equal importance of the French and Italian contributions, which is far from being the case. Nevertheless, usage has fastened on Latin America, and it is retained here.

Latin America consists of the following countries:
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana French Guyana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Uruguay, Venezuela

References

History of Latin America
Wikipedia Entry

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