Latin America is the portion of the Americas comprising regions where Romance languages—languages that derived from Latin, e.g. Spanish, Portuguese, and French–are predominantly spoken. The term was coined in the nineteenth century, to refer to regions in the Americas that were ruled by the Spanish, Portuguese and French empires. The term does not have a precise definition, but it is "commonly used to describe South America, Central America, and Mexico, and the islands of the Caribbean." A short definition of the region is Spanish America and Brazil, that is, Portuguese America.
The term "Latin America" is broader than categories such as Hispanic America, which specifically refers to Spanish-speaking countries; and Ibero-America, which specifically refers to both Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries.
The term Latin America was first used in an 1856 conference called "Initiative of America: Idea for a Federal Congress of the Republics" (Iniciativa de la América. Idea de un Congreso Federal de las Repúblicas), by the Chilean politician Francisco Bilbao. The term was further popularized by French emperor Napoleon III's government in the 1860s as Amérique latine to justify France's military involvement in the Second Mexican Empire and to include French-speaking territories in the Americas such as French Canada, French Louisiana, French Guiana or Haiti, in the larger group of countries where Spanish and Portuguese languages prevailed.
The United Nations has played a role in defining the region, establishing a geoscheme for the Americas, which divides the region geographically into North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, founded in 1948 and initially called the Economic Commission on Latin America ECLA, comprised Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Also included the 1948 establishment were Canada, France, the Netherlands, United Kingdom of Great Britain, and the U.S.A. Obtaining membership later were former colonial powers Spain (1979) and Portugal (1984). In addition, countries not former colonial powers in the region, but many of which had populations immigrate, there are part of ECLAC, including Italy (1990), Germany (2005), Japan (2006), South Korea (2007), Norway (2015), Turkey (2017). The Latin American Studies Association was founded in 1966, with its membership open to anyone interested in Latin American studies.
The region covers an area that stretches from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego and includes much of the Caribbean. It has an area of approximately 19,197,000 km2 (7,412,000 sq mi), almost 13% of the Earth's land surface area. As of March 2, 2020, the population of Latin America and the Caribbean was estimated at more than 652 million, and in 2019, Latin America had a combined nominal GDP of US$5,188,250 trillion and a GDP PPP of US$10,284,588 trillion. (Full article...)