Latin America refers to the portion of the Americas in which the dominant languages are "Romance" languages (so-called because they are derived from Latin, the language of ancient Rome) such as Spanish, Portuguese, and French. In practice, Latin America encompasses the southern portion of North America and nearly all of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean, for a total of 20 countries and 14 territories, most of which are Spanish-speaking (the exception being Brazil, the population of which speaks Brazilian Portuguese).
Because Latin America is an unofficial designation, lists of which countries and territories are and are not part of the region occasionally differ slightly from one another. Most often, this involves whether Belize, Guyana and Suriname are included. While all three countries are located in geographical Latin America, their official languages are English (Belize, Guyana) or Dutch (Suriname), which renders them non-Latin countries in the eyes of some list-makers. Latin American countries are also occasionally confused with Latino countries and/or Hispanic countries.
Note: Countries marked with * are excluded by some sources
|Country/Territory||Official Language||Country/Territory||Official Language|
|Costa Rica||Spanish||Paraguay||Guarani & Spanish|
|Dominican Republic||Spanish||Puerto Rico||English & Spanish|
|El Salvador||Spanish||Saint Martin||French|
|French Guiana||French||Suriname *||Dutch|
While Latin American countries such as Chile and Argentina enjoy healthy economies and high Human Development, many other Latin American countries are still developing and have the corresponding challenges to overcome. El Salvador, Honduras, and Venezuela have the highest murder rates globally, with El Salvador having 61.7 homicides per 100,000 people. Additionally, those three countries, as well as Brazil and Guyana, have five of the ten highest overall crime rates in the world.
One of Latin America's largest countries in terms of land area, Argentina spans more than 2,780,400 km² (1,073,518 mi²) and is among the most biodiverse countries on Earth. Argentina boasts a 2021 population of just over 46 million people, approximately 89% of whom reside in one of the country's many cities, and has experienced very steady, albeit slow population growth of 2-9% every year since as far back as 1955, the result of both migration and multiple "baby boom" periods. Located very near the southernmost point of Latin America, Argentina shares borders with Chile to the west (and south); Bolivia to the north; and Paraguay, Brazil, and Uruguay to the east. It has a robust economy and one of the highest Human Development scores in Latin America
Home to the majority of the Amazon rainforest, Brazil sprawls a vast 8,515,767 km² (3,287,956 mi²) of land and sea, with a population of more than 215 million people. Brazil is the largest Latin American country and is the third-largest country in the Americas behind only Canada and the United States. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Brazil also touches (counter-clockwise from top) French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. Brazil is the longest and most biodiverse country in the world, stretching from the equator to the Tropic of Capricorn.
Despite its diminutive population (nearly 5.2 million) and size (51,100 km²/19,730 mi²), the Central American country of Costa Rica consistently ranks high in terms of human development and is known for its educated workforce and stable democracy. It also ranked as the second happiest country in the Americas in 2021, behind only Canada. Positioned just above Panama and below Venezuela, Costa Rica is also known for its beaches, volcanoes, and the incredible biodiversity of the protected jungles that cover roughly 25% of its land area.
Often referred to as the DR, this Caribbean nation is one of two countries (the other being Haiti) that jointly occupy the island officially known as Hispaniola. The DR's 2021 population of just over 11 million people share 48,671 km² (18,791 mi²) of area, and enjoy the fastest-growing economy in the Western Hemisphere. The DR is the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean, thanks in no small part to its beaches, biodiversity, and abundance of year-round golf courses.
Located approximately 1,600 km (1,000 mi) southeast of Miami, Florida, this island nation is actually an unincorporated United States territory. Puerto Rico's 8,870 km² (3,424 mi²) of area supports a population of more than 2.8 million people, giving it one of the highest population densities in Latin America (319/km² compared to Brazil's 25/km²). The Puerto Rican economy is largely based around manufacturing (pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and electronics in particular) and tourism/hospitality focused upon its tropical rainforest ecology.
Latin American Status
|Mexico||none (Spanish unofficial)||Undisputed|
|Paraguay||Guarani & Spanish||Undisputed|
|Puerto Rico||English & Spanish||Undisputed|
There are 20 countries and 14 territories in Latin America, which consists of portions of North America, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.