Latin American Civilization


Latin American Civilization

  • Latin America is an area in the Americas that uses romantic languages, especially Spanish, Portuguese, and French.
  • It is estimated to have an area of approximately 21,069,500 km², which is approximately 3.9% of the Earth surface or 14.1% of its land area.
  • Its population in 2010 is estimated at over 590 million.
  • The combined GDP is 516 trillion US dollars (627 trillion in purchasing power parity).
  • Latin America can be divided into several sub-regions geographically, populational, politically and culturally.
  • The main geographical subregions are North America, Central America and the Caribbean, and South America, and the latter contain more political and geographical divisions and can be divided on linguistic bases into Spanish America and Portuguese America.


History before Columbus

  • The first inhabitants of the Americas are believed to be people who crossed the Bering Strait from northeast Asia to Alaska more than 10,000 years ago.
  • The oldest known settlement, identified at Monte Verde, near Puerto Monte, south of Chile.
  • The oldest civilization in the Americas is the civilization of “Las Vegas” from about 8,000 to 4,600 years BC.
  • Some groups have formed more permanent settlements such as the Shibsha and the Tiruna, and these groups are located in the circle around the Caribbean.
  • The Shibsha are from Colombia, Kutchwa and Aymara from Bolivia and Peru, the three indigenous groups that have settled almost permanently.
  • The region was home to many indigenous peoples and developed civilizations, including the Aztec, Toltec, Caribe, Toppi, Mayan and Inca.
  • The Golden Age of the Maya began almost in 250 AD with two other great civilizations, the Aztec and the Inca, which began to appear in the early 14th and mid-15th centuries.
  • The Aztec civilization was the most powerful civilization known throughout the Americas, until its fall in the Spanish invasion.

European Colonialism

  • European colonization of America began in the late 15th century after the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492.
  • The Spanish, Portuguese, British, French and Dutch empires invaded the continent, colonized some areas and enslaved the people.
  • The European powers of the Spanish and Portuguese colonized that region, which had not been colonized before, and were divided into areas under Spanish and Portuguese rule separated by borders drawn in 1493 in the Treaty of Tordesillas, which gave Spain all areas in the west and Portugal all areas in the east.
  • By the end of the 16th century, France joined Spain and Portugal, occupying large areas in the north, central and southern America.
  • European culture and customs were introduced, and the Roman Catholic Church became a great economic and political force, becoming the only official religion of the Americas during this period is Catholicism.
  • A large part of the indigenous people has been wiped out by epidemics and diseases brought by Europeans such as smallpox and measles.
  • Many of the survivors were forced to work on European farms and mines. The intermingling of the races between the indigenous peoples and the European colonists was very common, with the majority of people formed of mixed origin (Mestizo) in several colonies by the end of the colonial period.

Independence (1804-1825)

  • Haiti is among the first Latin American countries to have gained independence in 1804. Haiti’s independence has helped the idea of independence in Spanish America.
  • The majority of the population in Latin America became increasingly resentful because of the restrictions imposed by the Spanish Government, as well as the dominance of the indigenous Spaniards (from the Iberian Peninsula) over major social and political institutions.
  • The Napoleonic invasion of Spain in 1808 was a turning point that forced the elite of the Creole to form military councils calling for independence.
  • Rapid fighting broke out between the military councils and Spanish colonial authorities, and Spanish royal forces crushed these early moves in 1812.
  • The independence movement regained its power under the leadership of the new generation of leaders, and in 1825 all regions of Hispanic America gained independence from Spain, with the exception of Puerto Rico and Cuba.
  • Brazil achieved its independence with the constitutional monarchy established in 1822. In the same year in Mexico, the military officer Agostín de Iturbide led the coalition of conservatives and liberals who created the constitutional monarchy with Iturbide as emperor, becoming the first Mexican empire. But did not last long, and was followed by its establishment as a republic in 1823


  • Spanish and Portuguese are the predominant languages in Latin America, and Portuguese is spoken only in Brazil, the largest and most populous country in the region.
  • Spanish is the official language of most of the remaining countries in Latin America, as well as in Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
  • French is spoken in Haiti and French overseas administrations such as Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, also spoken by some Panamanians of African descent.
  • Dutch is the official language of Suriname, Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles.
  • The indigenous languages of the Americas or the Red Indians are widely used in Peru, Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay and, to a lesser extent, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, and Chile. In those countries that have not been mentioned, the indigenous population is very few or nonexistent.
  • In Peru, Quechua is the official language alongside Spanish and other indigenous languages.
  • In Ecuador, Quechua is the language recognized by indigenous people under the country’s constitution, but only by some groups.
  • In Bolivia, the Aymara, Quechua, and Guaraní are considered official alongside Spanish.
  • In Paraguay, the official language is “Guarani” alongside Spanish, spoken by the majority of the population, and also officially shared with the Spanish language in the territory of the “Corrientes” Argentine.
  • In Nicaragua, Spanish is the official language, but on the country’s Caribbean coast English and indigenous languages such as “Miskito”, “Sumo” and “Rama” are also official.
  • Colombia recognizes all indigenous languages officially used in its territory, although less than 1% of its population speaks in those languages.
  • In Mexico “Nahuatl” is one of the 62 indigenous languages spoken by indigenous people, which are officially recognized by the government as “national languages” alongside Spanish.
  • Some European languages are used in Latin America, such as:
    • English, used by some groups in Argentina, Nicaragua, Panama and Puerto Rico, as well as in neighboring countries that are or may not be considered Latin American, such as Pleuguiana.
    • German used in southern Brazil, southern Chile, Argentina, parts of northern Venezuela and Paraguay.
    • Italian, used in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela.
    • Welsh, used in southern Argentina.
  • Creole languages are used in many countries, especially in the Caribbean, and the most common Creole language in Latin America and the Caribbean is Haitian Creole, the dominant language in Haiti.


  • The vast majority of Latino Americans are Christians, mostly Roman Catholics. Almost 71% of Latin Americans consider themselves Catholics.
  • Membership in the Protestant community is increasing, especially in Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, and Puerto Rico.


  • The development of the visual art of Latin America is due to the influence of Spanish, Portuguese and French, which in turn is often followed by the attitudes of Italian professors.
  • This European technical outlook began to fade in the early 20th century, and Latin Americans began to recognize their uniqueness and began to follow their path.
  • From the early 20th century, Latin America was heavily inspired by the Constructional Movement.
  • The construction movement (wall art) was founded in Russia almost in 1913 by Vladimir Tatlin, and spread rapidly from Russia to Europe and then to Latin America.
  • Some of the most impressive (wall art) works were found in Mexico, Columbia, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.
  • The painter Frida Kahlo, one of the most famous Mexican artists, her paintings combined realism, symbolism, and surrealism, and her works are the most expensive in sales of paintings throughout Latin America.
  • The Colombian painter Fernando Botero is widely known for his work, which has seen the exaggeration of human and animal figures.



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