Latin America is a vast region that encompasses the entire continent of South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean islands. The countries in this region share a common history of conquest and colonization by the Spanish and Portuguese from the late 15th to the early 19th centuries, as well as their independence movements from Spain and Portugal. This article provides an alphabetically ordered list of countries in Latin America, as well as a brief overview of each country's history, culture, economy, and language. Mexico is the largest and most populous Spanish-speaking country in Latin America. With a population of around 129 million people and a total area of 1,943,950 m2, it is also the second largest country in Latin America.
Mexico is a federal state similar to the United States, with 31 states plus the capital city of 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. Mexico has become a mecca for tourists, many of whom flock to the country's tourist cities, including Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. In addition to tourism, Mexico's main economic activities include manufacturing and exporting oil and gas.
Unfortunately, Mexico also has one of the highest levels of socio-economic disparity among the 34 countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).The people of Mexico are a mixture of many cultures, including pre-Columbian indigenous people and descendants of Spanish settlers. Many Mexicans, especially in southern Mexico, still speak indigenous languages. There is a great division in the country between those with colonial heritage and those with indigenous heritage. In Central America, there are seven countries: Belize, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. 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 while Belize is the least populated with approximately 397,000 people. Unfortunately, Central America has earned a reputation for violence and poverty. The situation is particularly serious in what is known as the Northern Triangle of Central America which consists of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. In recent years an average of around 265,000 people per year have left this region to escape the seemingly endless cycle of violence and poverty. In the Caribbean there are 13 countries: Antigua & Barbuda; Bahamas; Barbados; Cuba; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Haiti; Jamaica; Saint Kitts & Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent & The Grenadines; Trinidad & Tobago. Haiti is the most populous country in the Caribbean with around 11.4 million people while Cuba is second with 11.3 million people.
Cuba is also the largest country in the Caribbean with an area of 106,440 square meters. Most Caribbean people speak Romance languages: Spanish is spoken in Cuba, Dominican Republic and United States Virgin Islands; French is spoken in Haiti as well as several French overseas territories in the Caribbean; English and Dutch are spoken in other Caribbean countries and territories. Another language known as Creole which is a mixture of European languages and languages of African descent is spoken throughout the Caribbean with several dialects. In economic terms, the Caribbean is best known for its tourism sector although not exclusively. The Bahamas has a strong financial services sector while Jamaica's economy relies heavily on remittances from Jamaicans living abroad. Cuba and Dominican Republic are still famous for their cigars. In South America there are 12 countries: Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil; Chile; Colombia; Ecuador; Guyana; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; Uruguay; Venezuela.
Spanish is the official language in all these countries except Brazil where Portuguese is spoken while French is spoken in French Guiana which is an overseas territory of France. English and Dutch are spoken in Guyana and Suriname respectively while English is spoken in Malvinas Islands which geographically form part of South America but are a British overseas territory. In addition to Spanish and Portuguese spoken by most South Americans millions also speak indigenous languages such as Quechua which is spoken by those of Inca descent. The Inca Empire which existed in parts of present-day Peru Bolivia and Chile was possibly the largest pre-Columbian civilization in South America known for building famous monuments such as Machu Picchu. Indigenous people continue to number millions in South America while rest of continent's population consists of Europeans Africans Asians or mixed descent making up total population nears 433 million people. Brazil is both largest and most populous country in both South America and Latin America as whole with population around 212 million people and total area 8 358 140 m2 making it ninth largest economy in world. In 19th century several Latin American countries sought immigrants from Europe and Asia resulting many Indians living today in Mexico Central America Andean countries (Ecuador Peru Bolivia). Companies gained influence over governments ruling elites these countries by dominating their economies paying bribes exploiting local workers. Latin Americans sensitive this point tourists using tropical helmets temperate cities such Lima Peru will find reservations. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on Latin American countries due to their already fragile economies lack access to healthcare resources high levels poverty inequality.