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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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Buenos Aires
Credit: Luis Argerich

Skyline of the City of Buenos Aires, capital and largest city in Argentina, and the most visited city in South America. This picture shows specifically the district of Puerto Madero.

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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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Guna woman selling Molas in Panama City
Credit: Leuo

The mola or molas, forms part of the traditional outfit of a Kuna woman, two mola panels being incorporated as front and back panels in a blouse. The full costume traditionally includes a patterned wrapped skirt (saburet), a red and yellow headscarf (musue), arm and leg beads (wini), a gold nose ring (olasu) and earrings in addition to the mola blouse (dulemor).

In Dulegaya, the Kuna's native language, "mola" means "shirt" or "clothing". The mola originated with the tradition of Kuna women painting their bodies with geometrical designs, using available natural colors; in later years these same designs were woven in cotton, and later still, sewn using cloth bought from the European settlers of Panamá.

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