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Saturday, 2 July 2011

Etymology and definitions

Etymology and definitions

The 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".[7] 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.[8] The term was first used in Paris in an 1856 conference by the Chilean politician Francisco Bilbao[9] and the same year by the Colombian writer José María Torres Caicedo in his poem "Two Americas.[10] 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.[11]
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.[12] By this definition, Latin America is coterminous with Iberoamerica ("Iberian America").

Pre-columbian history

Pre-columbian history

The Americas were thought to have been first inhabited by people crossing the Bering Land Bridge, now known as the Bering strait, from northeast Asia into Alaska well over 10,000 years ago. The earliest known settlement, however, was identified at Monte Verde, near Puerto Montt in Southern Chile. Its occupation dates to some 14,000 years ago and there is some disputed evidence of even earlier occupation. Over the course of millennia, people spread to all parts of the continents. By the first millennium AD/CE, South America’s vast rainforests, mountains, plains and coasts were the home of tens of millions of people. The earliest settlements in the Americas are of the Las Vegas Culture[19] from about 8000 BC and 4600 BC, a sedentary group from the coast of Ecuador, the forefathers of the more known Valdivia culture, of the same era. Some groups formed more permanent settlements such as the Chibchas (or "Muiscas" or "Muyscas") and the Tairona groups. These groups are in the circum Caribbean region. The Chibchas of Colombia, the Quechuas and Aymaras of Bolivia and Perú were the three indigenous groups that settled most permanently.
A view of Machu Picchu, a pre-Columbian Inca site in Peru. One of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
The region was home to many indigenous peoples and advanced civilizations, including the Aztecs, Toltecs, Caribs, Tupi, Maya, and Inca. The golden age of the Maya began about 250, with the last two great civilizations, the Aztecs and Incas, emerging into prominence later on in the early fourteenth century and mid-fifteenth centuries, respectively. The Aztec empire was ultimately the most powerful civilization known throughout the Americas, until its downfall in part by the Spanish invasion.

Education

Education

Despite significant progress, education coverage remains unequal in Latin America. The region has made great progress in educational coverage; almost all children attend primary school and access to secondary education has increased considerably. Most educational systems in the region have implemented various types of administrative and institutional reforms that have enabled reach for places and communities that had no access to education services in the early 90’s.
However, there are still 23 million children in the region between the ages of 4 and 17 outside of the formal education system. Estimates indicate that 30% of preschool age children (ages 4 –5) do not attend school, and for the most vulnerable populations, the poor and rural, - this calculation exceeds 40 percent. Among primary school age children (ages 6 to 12), coverage is almost universal; however there is still a need to incorporate 5 million children in the primary education system. These children live mostly in remote areas, are indigenous or Afro-descendants and live in extreme poverty.[64]
Among people between the ages of 13 and 17 years, only 80% are full time students in the education system; among those, among them only 66% advance to secondary school. These percentages are lower among vulnerable population groups: only 75% of the poorest youth between the ages of 13 and 17 years attend school. Tertiary education has the lowest coverage, with only 70% of people between the ages of 18 and 25 years outside of the education system. Currently, more than half of low income children or living in rural areas fail to complete nine years of education.[64]

Economy

Economy

Standard of living, consumption, and the environment

Computer factory in Guadalajara, Mexico.
According to Goldman Sachs' BRIC review of emerging economies, by 2050 the largest economies in the world will be as follows: China, United States, India, Brazil, and Mexico.[73] On a per capita basis most Latin American countries, including the largest ones (Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia), have per capita GDPs greater than that of China in 2009. As of 2010 Latin America included five nations classified as high-income countries: Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Mexico and Panama.[citation needed]
The following table lists all the countries in Latin America indicating a valuation of the country's GDP (Gross domestic product) based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP), GDP per capita also adjusted to the (PPP), a measurement of inequality through the Gini index (the higher the index the more unequal the income distribution is), the Human Development Index (HDI), the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), and the Quality-of-life index. GDP and PPP GDP statistics come from the International Monetary Fund with data as of 2006. Gini index, the Human Poverty Index HDI-1, the Human Development Index, and the number of internet users per capita come from the UN Development Program. The number of motor vehicles per capita come from the UNData base on-line. The EPI index comes from the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Quality-of-life index from The Economist Intelligence Unit. Green cells indicate the 1st rank in each category, while yellow indicate the last rank.
Summary of socio-economic performance indicators for Latin American countries
Country↓ GDP (PPP)[74]
(2010 estimates)

Billions
of USD
↓
GDP per
capita
(PPP)[75]
(2010 estimates)

USD↓
Income
equality[76]
(2000–2010)

Gini index↓
Poverty
Index[77]
(2009)

HPI-1 %↓
Human
Develop.[78]
(2010)

HDI↓
Envirnm.
Perform.[79]
(2010)

EPI↓
Real GDP
growth[80]
(2010)
%
↓
Emissions
per
capita[81]
(2008)
ton CO2↓
 Argentina 632.223 15,603 48.8 3.7 0.775 (H) 61.0 7.5 4.4
 Bolivia 47.796 4,584 57.2 11.6 0.643 (M) 44.3 4.0 1.3
 Brazil 2,181.677 11,289 55.0 8.7 0.699 (H) 63.4 7.5 1.9
 Chile 257.546 14,982 52.0 3.2 0.783 (H) 73.3 5.0 4.4
 Colombia 429.866 9,445 58.5 7.6 0.689 (H) 76.8 4.7 1.4
 Costa Rica 51.130 10,732 48.9 4.6 0.725 (H) 86.4 3.8 1.5
 Cuba 111.1[82] 9,700[82] N/A 4.7 N/A 78.1 1.4[82] 2.7
 Dominican Republic 85.391 8,648 48.4 9.1 0.663 (M) 68.4 5.5 2.0
 Ecuador 113.825 7,952 54.4 7.9 0.695 (H) 69.3 2.9 1.9
 El Salvador 43.640 7,442 46.9 14.6 0.659 (M) 69.1 1.0 1.0
 Guatemala 69.958 4,871 53.7 19.7 0.560 (M) 54.0 2.4 0.8
 Haiti 11.056 1,122 59.5 31.5 0.404 (L) 39.5 -8.5 0.2
 Honduras 33.537 4,405 55.3 13.7 0.604 (M) 49.9 2.4 1.1
 Mexico 1,549.671 14,266 51.6 5.9 0.750 (H) 67.3 5.0 3.8
 Nicaragua 17.269 2,970 52.3 17.0 0.565 (M) 57.1 3.0 0.7
 Panama 43.725 12,398 54.9 6.7 0.755 (H) 71.4 6.2 1.9
 Paraguay 31.469 4,915 53.2 10.5 0.640 (M) 63.5 9.0 0.6
 Peru 274.276 9,281 50.5 10.2 0.723 (H) 69.3 8.3 1.2
 Uruguay 48.140 14,342 47.1 3.0 0.765 (H) 59.1 8.5 2.3
 Venezuela 346.973 11,889 43.4 6.6 0.696 (H) 62.9 -1.3 5.2
Total 6,270.231 11,119
10.1
76.2 4 2.3
Notes: (H) High human development; (M) Medium human development; (L) Low human development

Inequality

Inequality

Slums on the outskirts of a wealthy urban area in São Paulo, Brazil: an example of poverty common in Latin America.
Poverty continues to be one of the region's main challenges; according to the ECLAC, Latin America is the most unequal region in the world.[83] Inequality is undermining the region's economic potential and the well-being of its population, since it increases poverty and reduces the impact of economic development on poverty reduction.[84] Inequality in Latin America has deep historical roots that have been difficult to eradicate since the differences between initial endowments and opportunitites among social groups have constrained the poorest's social mobility, thus making poverty to be transmitted from generation to generation, becoming a vicious cycle. High inequality is rooted in exclusionary institutions that have been perpetuated ever since colonial times and that have survived different political and economic regimes. Inequality has been reproduced and transmitted through generations because Latin American political systems allow a differentiated access on the influence that social groups have in the decision making process, and it responds in different ways to the least favored groups that have less political representation and capacity of pressure.[85] Recent economic liberalisation also plays a role as not everyone is equally capable of taking advantage of its benefits.[86] Differences in opportunities and endowments tend to be based on race, ethnicity, rurality and gender. Those differences have a strong impact on the distribution of income, capital and political standing.
According to a study by the World Bank,the richest decile of the population of Latin America earn[87] 48% of the total income, while the poorest 10% of the population earn only 1.6% of the income. In contrast, in developed countries, the top decile receives 29% of the total income, while the bottom decile earns 2.5%. The countries with the highest inequality in the region (as measured with the Gini index in the UN Development Report[76]) in 2007 were Haiti (59.5), Colombia (58.5), Bolivia (58.2), Honduras (55.3), Brazil (55.0), and Panama (54.9), while the countries with the lowest inequality in the region were Venezuela (43.4), Uruguay (46.4) and Costa Rica (47.2).
According to the World Bank the poorest countries in the region were (as of 2008):[88] Haiti, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Honduras. Undernourishment affects to 47% of Haitians, 27% of Nicaraguans, 23% of Bolivians and 22% of Hondurans.[89]
Many countries in Latin America have responded to high levels of poverty by implementing new, or altering old, social assistance programs such as conditional cash transfers. These include Mexico's Progresa Oportunidades, Brazil's Bolsa Escola and Bolsa Familia, and Chile's Chile Solidario.[90] In general, these programs provide money to poor families under the condition that those transfers are used as an investment on their children's human capital, such as regular school attendance and basic preventive health care. The purpose of these programs is to address the inter-generational transmission of poverty and to foster social inclusion by explicitly targeting the poor, focusing on children, delivering transfers to women, and changing social accountability relationships between beneficiaries, service providers and governments.[91] These programs have helped to increase school enrollment and attendance and they also have shown improvements in children's health conditions.[92] Most of these transfer schemes are now benefiting around 110 million people in the region and are considered relatively cheap, costing around 0.5% of their GDP.[93]

Tourism

Tourism

Income from tourism is key to the economy of several Latin American countries.[96] Mexico receives the largest number of international tourists, with 21.5 million visitors in 2009, followed by Brazil, with 4.8 million; Argentina, with 4.3 million; Dominican Republic, with 4.0 million;, Puerto Rico, with 3.5 million and Chile with 2.8 million.[97] Places such as Cancun, Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza, Cartagena de Indias, Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Margarita Island, São Paulo, Salar de Uyuni, Punta del Este, Santo Domingo, Labadee, San Juan, La Habana, Panama City, Iguazu Falls, Puerto Vallarta, Poás Volcano National Park, Punta Cana, Viña del Mar, Mexico City, Quito, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Lima, Maceió, Florianópolis, Cuzco and Patagonia are popular among international visitors in the region.[citation needed]
Performance indicators for international tourism in Latin America
Country↓ International
tourist
arrivals
2009[97]
Millions of USD↓
International
tourism
receipts
2009[97]
Millions of USD↓
Receipts per
arrival (2)/(1)
2009
(USD/Tourist)↓
Receipts
per capita
2009[97][98]
USD↓
Revenues as %
of exports
goods and
services[96]
2003↓
Tourism
revenues
as %
GDP[96]
2003↓
 % Direct &
indirect
employment
in tourism[96]
2005
↓
World
Ranking
Tourism
Compet.[99]
TTCI
2011↓
Index
value
TTCI[99]
2011↓
 Argentina 4,329 3,916 905 96 7.4 1.8 9.1 60 4.20
 Bolivia 671 279 416 29 9.4 2.2 7.6 117 3.35
 Brazil 4,802 5,305 1,105 27 3.2 0.5 7.0 52 4.36
 Chile 2,750 1,568 570 94 5.3 1.9 6.8 57 4.27
 Colombia N/A 1,999 N/A 44 6.6 1.4 5.9 77 3.94
 Costa Rica 1,923 2,075 1,079 488 17.5 8.1 13.3 44 4.43
 Cuba 2,405 2,080 865 181 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
 Dominican Republic 3,992 4,065 1,018 421 36.2 18.8 19.8 72 3.99
 Ecuador 968 663 685 45 6.3 1.5 7.4 87 3.79
 El Salvador 1,091 319 292 44 12.9 3.4 6.8 96 3.68
 Guatemala 1,392 820 589 61 16.0 2.6 6.0 86 3.82
 Haiti* N/A N/A N/A 12* 19.4 3.2 4.7 N/A N/A
 Honduras 870 611 702 78 13.5 5.0 8.5 88 3.79
 Mexico 21,454 11,275 526 101 5.7 1.6 14.2 43 4.43
 Nicaragua 932 346 371 59 15.5 3.7 5.6 100 3.56
 Panama 1,200 1,483 1,236 441 10.6 6.3 12.9 56 4.30
 Paraguay 439 112 255 16 4.2 1.3 6.4 123 3.26
 Peru 2,140 2,046 956 69 9.0 1.6 7.6 69 4.04
 Uruguay 2,055 1,311 638 375 14.2 3.6 10.7 58 4.24
 Venezuela N/A 788 N/A 29 1.3 0.4 8.1 106 3.46
  • Note (1): Haiti, marked with * do not have all statistical data available for 2009 or 2011. Data shown is for reference purposes only (2003 for Haiti).[100]
  • Note (2): Green shadow denotes the country with the best indicator. Yellow shadow denotes the country with the lowest performance for that indic