Etymology and definitionsThe idea that a part of the Americas has a cultural affinity with the Romance cultures as a whole can be traced back to the 1830s, in particular in the writing of the French Saint-Simonian Michel Chevalier, who postulated that this part of the Americas were inhabited by people of a "Latin race", and that it could, therefore, ally itself with "Latin Europe" in a struggle with "Teutonic Europe", "Anglo-Saxon America" and "Slavic Europe". The idea was later taken up by Latin American intellectuals and political leaders of the mid- and late-nineteenth century, who no longer looked to Spain or Portugal as cultural models, but rather to France. The term was first used in Paris in an 1856 conference by the Chilean politician Francisco Bilbao and the same year by the Colombian writer José María Torres Caicedo in his poem "Two Americas. The term Latin America was supported by the French Empire of Napoleon III during the French invasion of Mexico, as a way to include France among countries with influence in America and to exclude Anglophone countries, and played a role in his campaign to imply cultural kinship of the region with France, transform France into a cultural and political leader of the area, and install Maximilian of Habsburg as emperor of the Second Mexican Empire.
In contemporary usage:
- In one sense, Latin America refers to territories in the Americas where the Spanish or Portuguese languages prevail: Mexico, most of Central and South America, and in the Caribbean, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico — in summary, Hispanic America and Brazil. Latin America is, therefore, defined as all those parts of the Americas that were once part of the Spanish and Portuguese Empires. By this definition, Latin America is coterminous with Iberoamerica ("Iberian America").