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History of Latin America

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Short Documentary: Experience Latin American culture, rich history and friendly faces on an Intrepid Travel adventure

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images-1A 17th-century map of the Americas

Latin America refers to countries in the Americas where Romance (Latin-derived) languages are spoken. This definition, however, is not meant to include Canada, in spite of its large French-speaking population.

Latin American countries generally lie south of the United States. By extension, some writers and commentators, particularly in the United States, apply the term to the whole region south of the United States, including the non-Romance-speaking countries such as SurinameJamaica, and Guyana, due to similar economic, political and social histories and present-day conditions.

Before the arrival of Europeans in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the region was home to many indigenous peoples, many of which had advanced civilizations, most notably, the AztecInca and Maya. By the end of the sixteenth century large areas of what would become Latin America were colonized by European settlers, primarily from SpainPortugal and to a lesser extent, France and the Netherlands (in Brazil).

In the early nineteenth century most of the region attained its independence, giving rise to new countries, although a few, small colonies remain.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Latin_America#History_by_country

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