chapter
Americas: Latin America
Pages 6

The term ‘Latin America’ is ambiguous, as its connotations are various. As a more encompassing notion, it refers to a territory, and its concomitant nation states, stretching from Mexico in the north, through the *Caribbean and *Central America, to Argentina and Chile in the south. However, as a much looser term, Latin America evokes a series of associated images (not quite mythical nor quite stereotypical): Indian heritage and European dominance; macho men and stoic women; violent revolutions and ruthless dictatorships; agrarian reforms and urban congestion; dire poverty and sumptuous luxury; remote hinterlands and advanced industrial enterprises; Liberation Theology and †dependency theory. It evokes the magical realism of their literature; the flair of their fiestas; the rhythms of tango and salsa; the flavours of their food; the temperament of their athletes; the caudillo of politics; the triumph of mañana. In this latter sense, Latin America connotes the culture of the †mestizo-in contrast to the *Native American, †indigenous cultures, which have been seen to represent the pre-Columbian heritage.