Countries in America, where ‘Romance languages’ (Spanish, Portuguese, & to an extent, French) of ‘Latin’ descent, find predominance are known as Latin American. They include parts of North America (Mexico), Central and South America. This term was established in the 19th Century, owing to the influence of colonization by Latin-European countries in the American region.
It is interesting to see how the marks left by their colonizers have become the basis of their identity today. Latin-America, with its fair share of ups and downs, is known for diversity in culture and natural resources, popularity in sports, urbanization (80% of the population lives in cities), disparity in distribution of wealth and yet 7 of its countries found their way on Business Insider’s list of ‘Happiest Countries in the World’.
Below are some of the important countries which belong to the Latin American region –
- Capital : Buenos Aires
- It has the 3rd largest economy in Latin America. The main sectors include agriculture, automobile, petrochemicals, electronics, textiles, etc. As per Argentine Foreign Trade, the exports accounted to $56.75 billion in 2015. The 2016 World Bank Estimates stated that the GDP rate rose to 2.1% in 2015.- It is a member of WTO, G-20, Mercosur, OEI.
- It is a member of WTO, G-20, Mercosur, OEI.
- Capital : La Paz
- It has the 2nd largest Natural Gas reserves in South America which amounts to 50% of the country’s exports. The other major industries include mining, petroleum, tobacco, clothing, food and beverages. According to the US Geological Service, Bolivia possesses 50% – 70% of the world’s Lithium reserves.
- Capital : Brasilia
- It has the largest economy in South America, is the most populous country in this region as well as the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world. According to IMF, in 2015, Brazil was the world’s ninth largest economy by nominal GDP. It has a stable and diverse range of income-generating sectors including agriculture, mining, services, manufacturing. It is the world’s largest exporter of coffee. It also exports iron ore, transport equipment, automobile among other commodities.
- Brazil is an active member of world organizations like BRICS, G-20, CPLP, UN, Latin Union, etc.
- Capital : Santiago
- Foreign trade plays a major role in Chile’s economy and 60% of the government revenue comes from Copper exports. Apart from copper, it exports fruit, fish products, chemical, wine, paper and pulp, etc. According to a report by BBC, Chile is one of the most stable and prosperous nations of Latin America. 22 trade agreements have been signed between Chile and 60 other countries. It was the first South American country to join OECD.
- Capital : Bogota
- IMF states that Colombia has the 4th largest economy in Latin America. According to International Trade Centre, the country is rich in natural resources and that is reflected in its exports, which include mineral fuels, precious stones, oils, forest products, pulp and paper, coffee, cotton, sugar, petrochemicals, etc. Tourism and financial sector also form an integral part of the economy.
- Capital : Quito
- Currently a developing economy, Ecuador stabilized its economy from the banking crisis by adopting the US dollar in the year 2000. It depends primarily on petroleum resources, which make up 40% of its exports, followed by cut flowers, fruits, sugar, fish, coffee. Potential industries include power generation, mining, domestic production of raw materials, textiles, oil refinement.
- Capital : Georgetown
- The country is majorly agrarian and produces rice, sugar on a large scale. Apart from this, Guyana depends on mining, especially gold mining, timber production and minerals. The positive growth rate every year is mainly due to the gold production, however, fluctuation in gold prices could affect the economy drastically.
- Capital : Mexico City
- World Bank classifies Mexico as an upper-middle income country. It has the most number of World Heritage Sites in the Americas, due to its rich cultural background. Often predicted to be a superpower in the coming decades, it was the 1st Latin American country to join OECD. Owing to its participation in NAFTA, Mexico has been increasingly devoted to the manufacturing sector so much that it is the 6th largest electronics industry in the world and it accounts to 30% of its exports. As per WTO, Mexico has always been among the most visited countries. Oil exports played a major role in the 1980’s, and is exported even today, although not on the same scale.
- Capital : Panama City
- The dollar-based economy of Panama relies on the well-equipped service sector, which makes up three quarters of its GDP. Services include operating the Panama Canal, the Colon Free Trade Zone, logistics, banking and insurance, tourism. It exports fruit and nuts, fish, iron and steel waste, wood. It is the 2nd largest economy in Central America.
- Capital : Asuncion
- Agriculture and forestry dominate the small market economy. Soybean export has aided economic growth. The main industries include meat-packing, sugar processing, wood-manufacturing, edible oil, production of steel and consumer goods.
- Capital : Lima
- It is a social market economy where foreign trade plays a major role. It mainly exports copper, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, gold, zinc, textiles. It is the 6th largest producer of gold (USA Gold), 3rd largest producer of silver (Investing News) and copper (Statista) in the world.
- Capital : Montevideo
- According to UNPACS, it is one of the most liberal nations in the world and ranks 1st in Latin America for democracy, peace, lack of corruption. It is a free market economy with export-centred agricultural production. According to Trading Economics, 52% of the country’s exports depend upon meat shipments, vegetables, rice, dairy products. Uruguay needs to diversify its industries to keep up with the country’s growth.
- Capital : Caracas
- A state-controlled economy, Venezuela has been growing at an average rate of 0.75% due to oil exports. Trading Economics states that oil accounts for 96% of the country’s exports and makes up 12% of its GDP. Fluctuation in oil prices causes direct damage to Venezuela’s economy. In order to maintain balance, it also exports petroleum, bauxite, aluminium, chemicals, minerals and other agricultural products.
India is an active trade partner of various Latin-American countries, with sectors like pharmaceuticals, automobile, oil, energy, technology on the forefront. Although dominated by a few major languages, it is essential to know the difference between Spanish spoken in Spain and in Latin America. When it comes to communication, it is crucial to use Brazilian Portuguese Translation Services, owing to the differences between Portuguese spoken in Europe and Brazil.