Latin America, the Spanish and
Portuguese, and few French-speaking parts of South and
Central America, including Mexico and parts of the
Caribbean. The name is because these three languages are
developed by Latin (so-called Romanian languages) as opposed
to the Germanic language English spoken in North America
(see Anglo-America). The concept of Latin America is more
related to the area's history and cultural history than to
its geography, and this article addresses in particular
cultural history topics. Other topics are covered in South
America, Central America and the Caribbean as well as in
individual countries as listed by
Latin America's native Native American population is
nearly extinct in many places, but especially in northern
Central America and in several of the Andean states, Native
Americans still make up a large proportion of the
The history of Latin America began when Christoffer
Columbus, in his attempt to reach India by sailing west in
1492, reached the Caribbean. Over the next few decades, the
Spaniards established themselves on several Caribbean
islands; the first true colony, Santo Domingo, was founded
on Hispaniola in 1496.
Ca. 90% of Latin America's population belongs to the
Roman Catholic Church. In practice, there are many places
where there are mixtures of the original forms of belief,
such as shamanism, and Christianity.
After the Latin American countries that were Spanish
colonies during the first decades of the 1800s. had become
independent, instead of the obsolete legal system of the
Spaniards, they chose to introduce the French statutes.
Visual arts and architecture
European colonization in the 1500-t. was expressed in an
extensive church and monastic building, performed by
convened architects and artists with a background in Spanish
and Portuguese traditions.
With the colonization of South and Central America by the
Spaniards and the Portuguese, a rich chronicle literature
emerged describing the nature and people of the new world.
In the beginning, they were European chronicles, many
soldiers and clergy, later also about Native Americans who
had learned the colonial language.
During the colonial period, real theater life began to
develop in Latin America, but not until the 1900s. The
theater took itself seriously as a cultural institution in
the explosively growing big cities.
Music and dance
Latin American music is very much a mixture of different
forms of music. The indigenous music is hardly found in its
original form, but has in many places influenced the folk
The relatively large concentration of European immigrants
in Latin America in the 1800s characterized the continent's
early films; for example, the first Argentine film, La
bandera argentina (1897, The Argentine Flag),
was recorded by a Frenchman, and the first feature film,
El fusilamento de Dorrego (1908, The Execution of
Dorrego), by the Italian Mario Gallo (1878-1945)...
Read more about movies in Latin America.
The cuisines of Latin America are mixed kitchens with
many common features, which derive from the continent's past
under Spanish and Portuguese rule. The mix with Native
American, African and other European cuisines has created a
rich gastronomic mix culture.