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Latin America

Latin America describes the American countries south of the United States, comprising all of South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Nations of this region where the English Language predominates (eg Jamaica, Belize, Guyana) are often excluded from this term. Most usually it only refers to the nations where the Spanish and Portuguese languages predominate.

A Latino is a person of Latin American heritage, or of the Latin-American culture.

Etymological note: Treating the term literally, one might expect the term to apply to cultures and regions in the Americas deriving from cultures speaking Romance languages (those descended from Latin). However, French-speaking areas of the Americas, such as Quebec and Acadia in Canada, as well as Haiti, are not considered part of Latin America. Yet this was the original intention of the term – "Latin America" was first proposed during the French occupation of Mexico (1862-1867), when Napoleon III supported Archduke Maximilian's pretensions to be emperor of Mexico. The French hoped that an inclusive notion of "Latin" America would support their cause. That Mexican citizens eventually expelled the French while retaining the term "Latino" is perhaps one of history's more charming ironies.

The alternative term Ibero-America is sometimes used to refer to the nations that were formerly colonies of Spain and Portugal, as these two countries are located on the peninsula of Iberia. The Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI) takes this defintion a step further, by including Spain and Portugal (often termed the Mother Countries of Latin America) among its member states, in addition to their Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking former colonies in America.

Latin American countries include: