Latin America has a long and complex history, beginning with the European discovery of the New World in the 1500s. Countries such as Spain, France and Portugal colonized the region, decimating native populations and participating in the African slave trade to meet their demand for free labor. By 1898, all Latin American countries had become independent nations. Today, there are 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the United Nations.
Mexico is the largest and most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world, with a total population of approximately 129 million people and a total area of 1,943,950 m2. Km. Mexico is a federal state similar to the United States, with 31 states plus the capital, Mexico City. Mexico has a rich history and culture, including ancient civilizations such as those of the Aztecs and the Maya. The ruins of ancient sites such as Chichén Itzá, Palenque and Teotihuacán are popular tourist attractions today.
In addition to tourism, Mexico's main economic activities include manufacturing and exporting oil and gas. Unfortunately, Mexico has the second highest degree of socio-economic disparity among the 34 countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In Central America there are seven countries: Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. All but one of these countries, Belize, have Spanish as their official language.
Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America, with a population of around 17.9 million people. Unfortunately, Central America has earned a reputation for violence and poverty, particularly in what is known as the Northern Triangle of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras). In the Caribbean there are 13 countries: Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico (United States), Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines , Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and Bahamas. The most populous country in the Caribbean is Haiti with 11.4 million people.
Most Caribbean people speak Romance languages: Spanish in Cuba, Dominican Republic and United States; French in Haiti; English and Dutch in other countries. Another language known as Creole is spoken throughout the Caribbean. The Caribbean economy is mainly based on tourism but also on financial services (Bahamas) or remittances from abroad (Jamaica). In South America there are 12 countries: Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador , Bolivia , Chile , Paraguay , Uruguay , Guyana and Suriname.
Spanish is the official language in all these countries except Brazil (Portuguese), Guyana (English) and Suriname (Dutch). In addition to these languages millions of people in South America also speak indigenous languages such as Quechua (spoken by those of Inca descent). South America has a population of more than 433 million people; Brazil is the largest country with 212 million inhabitants. Brazil also has the largest economy in both South America and Latin America.
Latin America is an incredibly diverse region with a rich history that continues to shape its present day culture. From ancient civilizations to modern day economies Latin America has something for everyone.