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Latin America refers to the those countries in the western hemisphere where a Latin based language is spoken. This includes all of the countries on the South American continent, Central America and Mexico. Spanish is the primary language in all of these countries except Brazil, where Portuguese is spoken.
Relation with the USAEdit
Latin America has long had a troubled relationship with the United States because that country has tried to dominate many Latin American countries militarily, economically and politically. This trend started with the U.S. intervention that allowed a portion of the nation of Colombia to break off and declare independence because the U.S. wanted to build a canal there. It continued as the United States government backed up the United Fruit company when it controlled the politics and economies of small Central American countries, leading to the term "banana republic".
The United States has also been involved in overthrowing governments in Latin America that it felt were not sympathetic enough to American business. Thus, the United States was implicated in the overthrow and murder of the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende. The United States also played a part in coups in other countries such as Guatemala that were feared to be leaning towards a socialist government that might want to share some of the country's natural resources with its own people. The United States still forbids its own people from selling goods to Cuba, or even from visiting the country to see for themselves how evil that country's government is. Fifty years of refusing to talk to the Cuban government has led to nothing but stronger control of Fidel Castro and his brother over the reigns of government.
Latin America has traditionally been Roman Catholic but this is changing as Roman Catholics convert to Protestant groups or reject organised religion altogether. There are some adherents of traditional pre-Columbian beliefs and many people combine Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Brazilian and/or indigenous beliefs and sometimes practises with Christianity.