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Portal:Latin America

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Latin America was a name coined by "Emperor of Mexico" Maximilian I in an effort to gain legitimacy, since his patron, Napoleon III, spoke French, a Latinate tongue like Spanish and Portuguese. Maximilian did not last, but the coinage of "Latin America" is one of the most successful of all time. Latin America is traditionally defined as the regions of the Americas where Spanish, the language of Spain, and Portuguese, the language of Portugal, were spoken -- in other words, every part of the Western Hemisphere, with the exception of Suriname and a few small islands that speak Dutch, that was not Anglo America. (English is a Germanic language.) Therefore, virtually all of the Western Hemisphere except the United States, Canada, and the non-Hispanophone countries of the Caribbean and South America have tended to come under the heading of Latin America. Other areas where languages derived from Latin, such as Papiamento and Creole, predominate are sometimes included and sometimes excluded from Latin America, depending on the speaker.

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Iguazú Falls
Credit: Martin St-Amant

Panorama of the Iguazú Falls, in the Brazilian side. Walkways allow close views of the falls from both Brazil and Argentina. The falls, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, are located on the border of the Brazilian State of Paraná and the Argentine Province of Misiones.

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The Republic of Peru is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Peruvian territory was home to the Norte Chico civilization, one of the oldest in the world, and to the Inca Empire, the largest state in Pre-Columbian America. The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century and established a Viceroyalty, which included most of its South American colonies. After achieving independence in 1821, Peru has undergone periods of political unrest and fiscal crisis as well as periods of stability and economic upswing. Peru is a representative democratic republic divided into 25 regions. Its geography varies from the arid plains of the Pacific coast to the peaks of the Andes mountains and the tropical forests of the Amazon Basin. It is a developing country with a high Human Development Index score and a poverty level around 36%. Its main economic activities include agriculture, fishing, mining, and manufacturing of products such as textiles. The Peruvian population, estimated at 29.5 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Europeans, Africans, and Asians. The main spoken language is Spanish, although a significant number of Peruvians speak Quechua or other native languages. This mixture of cultural traditions has resulted in a wide diversity of expressions in fields such as art, cuisine, literature, and music.


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Huayna Picchu towers above the ruins of Machu Picchu
Credit: Martin St-Amant

Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel situated on a mountain ridge 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. It is located in the Cusco Region, Urubamba Province, Machupicchu District in Peru, above the Sacred Valley, which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows.

Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often mistakenly referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas" (a title more accurately applied to Vilcabamba), it is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization. The Incas built the estate around 1450 but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was not known to the Spanish during the colonial period and remained unknown to the outside world until American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to international attention in 1911.

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