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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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Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (April 16, 1971 – March 31, 1995), known simply as Selena, was a Mexican American singer-songwriter. She was named the "top Latin artist of the '90s" and "Best selling Latin artist of the decade" by Billboard, for her fourteen top-ten singles in the Top Latin Songs chart, including seven number-one hits. The singer also had the most successful singles of 1994 and 1995, "Amor Prohibido" and "No Me Queda Más". She was called "The Queen of Tejano music" and the Mexican equivalent of Madonna. Selena released her first album, Selena y Los Dinos, at the age of twelve. She won Female Vocalist of the Year at the 1987 Tejano Music Awards and landed a recording contract with EMI a few years later. Her fame grew throughout the early 1990s, especially in Spanish-speaking countries. Selena was murdered at the age of 23 by Yolanda Saldívar, the president of her fan club. On April 12, 1995, two weeks after her death, George W. Bush, governor of Texas at the time, declared her birthday "Selena Day" in Texas. Warner Bros. produced Selena, a film based on her life starring Jennifer Lopez, in 1997. Selena's life was also the basis of the musical Selena Forever starring Veronica Vazquez as Selena. In June 2006, Selena was commemorated with a museum and a bronze life-sized statue (Mirador de la Flor in Corpus Christi, Texas), which are visited by hundreds of fans each week. She has sold over 21 million albums worldwide.


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A gaucho from Argentina, circa 1868
Credit: Library of Congress

Portrait of an Argentine gaucho, a term commonly used to describe residents of the South American pampas, chacos, or Patagonian grasslands, found principally in parts of Argentina, Uruguay, Southern Chile, and Southern Brazil.

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