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Coordinates: 19°N96°W / 19°N 96°W / 19; -96


The Americas
Americas (orthographic projection).svg
Americas (orthographic projection) blank.svg
Area42,549,000 km2
(16,428,000 sq mi)
Population964,920,000 [1]
GDP  (nominal)$26.68 trillion [1]
GDP per capita$26,460 [1]
HDINorth America 0.733, South America 0.738 [2]
Demonym American, [3] New Worlder [4] (see usage)
Countries 35
Languages Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, Haitian Creole, Quechua, Guaraní, Aymara, Nahuatl, Dutch and many others
Time zones UTC−10:00 to UTC
Largest cities Largest metropolitan areas
Largest cities
UN M49 code 019 – Americas
001 – World
1990s CIA political map of the Americas in Lambert azimuthal equal-area projection N&SAmerica-pol.jpg
1990s CIA political map of the Americas in Lambert azimuthal equal-area projection

The Americas, which are sometimes collectively called America, [5] [6] [7] are a landmass comprising the totality of North and South America. [8] [9] [10] The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. [5]

Along with their associated islands, the Americas cover 8% of Earth's total surface area and 28.4% of its land area. The topography is dominated by the American Cordillera, a long chain of mountains that runs the length of the west coast. The flatter eastern side of the Americas is dominated by large river basins, such as the Amazon, St. Lawrence RiverGreat Lakes basin, Mississippi, and La Plata. Since the Americas extend 14,000 km (8,700 mi) from north to south, the climate and ecology vary widely, from the arctic tundra of Northern Canada, Greenland, and Alaska, to the tropical rain forests in Central America and South America.

Humans first settled the Americas from Asia between 42,000 and 17,000 years ago. A second migration of Na-Dene speakers followed later from Asia. The subsequent migration of the Inuit into the neoarctic around 3500 BCE completed what is generally regarded as the settlement by the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

The first known European settlement in the Americas was by the Norse explorer Leif Erikson. [11] However, the colonization never became permanent and was later abandoned. The Spanish voyages of Christopher Columbus from 1492 to 1504 resulted in permanent contact with European (and subsequently, other Old World) powers, which eventually led to the Columbian exchange and inaugurated a period of exploration, conquest, and colonization whose effects and consequences persist to the present. The Spanish presence involved the enslavement of large numbers of the indigenous population of America. [12]

Diseases introduced from Europe and West Africa devastated the indigenous peoples, and the European powers colonized the Americas. [13] Mass emigration from Europe, including large numbers of indentured servants, and importation of African slaves largely replaced the indigenous peoples.

Decolonization of the Americas began with the American Revolution in the 1770s and largely ended with the Spanish–American War in the late 1890s. Currently, almost all of the population of the Americas resides in independent countries; however, the legacy of the colonization and settlement by Europeans is that the Americas share many common cultural traits, most notably Christianity and the use of Indo-European languages: primarily Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, and, to a lesser extent, Dutch.

The Americas are home to nearly a billion inhabitants, two-thirds of whom reside in the United States, Brazil, and Mexico. It is home to eight megacities (metropolitan areas with ten million inhabitants or more): New York City (23.9 million), Metropolitan area of the Valley of Mexico (21.2 million), São Paulo (21.2 million), Los Angeles (18.8 million), Buenos Aires (15.6 million), [14] Rio de Janeiro (13.0 million), Bogotá (10.4 million), and Lima (10.1 million).

Etymology and naming

America is named after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. Amerigo Vespucci (with turban).jpg
America is named after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.

The name "America" was first recorded in 1507. A two-dimensional globe created by Martin Waldseemüller was the earliest recorded use of the term. [16] The name was also used (together with the related term Amerigen) in the Cosmographiae Introductio , apparently written by Matthias Ringmann, in reference to South America. [17] It was applied to both North and South America by Gerardus Mercator in 1538. "America" derives from Americus, the Latin version of Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci's first name. The feminine form America accorded with the feminine names of Asia, Africa, and Europa. [18]

In modern English, North and South America are generally considered separate continents, and taken together are called the Americas, or more rarely America. [19] [20] [5] When conceived as a unitary continent, the form is generally the continent of America in the singular. However, without a clarifying context, singular America in English commonly refers to the United States of America. [5]

Historically, in the English-speaking world, the term America usually referred to a single continent until the 1950s (as in Van Loon's Geography of 1937): According to historians Kären Wigen and Martin W. Lewis, [21]

While it might seem surprising to find North and South America still joined into a single continent in a book published in the United States in 1937, such a notion remained fairly common until World War II. It cannot be coincidental that this idea served American geopolitical designs at the time, which sought both Western Hemispheric domination and disengagement from the "Old World" continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa. By the 1950s, however, virtually all American geographers had come to insist that the visually distinct landmasses of North and South America deserved separate designations.


Pre-Columbian era

The Plaza Occidental in Copan, Honduras CPN WEST COURT 01.jpg
The Plaza Occidental in Copán, Honduras

The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continents, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic to European colonization during the Early Modern period. The term Pre-Columbian is used especially often in the context of the great indigenous civilizations of the Americas, such as those of Mesoamerica (the Olmec, the Toltec, the Teotihuacano, the Zapotec, the Mixtec, the Aztec, and the Maya) and the Andes (Inca, Moche, Muisca, Cañaris).

Many pre-Columbian civilizations established characteristics and hallmarks which included permanent or urban settlements, agriculture, civic and monumental architecture, and complex societal hierarchies. Some of these civilizations had long faded by the time of the first permanent European arrivals (c. late 15th–early 16th centuries), and are known only through archeological investigations. Others were contemporary with this period, and are also known from historical accounts of the time. A few, such as the Maya, had their own written records. However, most Europeans of the time viewed such texts as pagan, and much was destroyed in Christian pyres. Only a few hidden documents remain today, leaving modern historians with glimpses of ancient culture and knowledge. [22]


Map of early human migrations based on the Out of Africa theory. Spreading homo sapiens la.svg
Map of early human migrations based on the Out of Africa theory.

The first inhabitants migrated into the Americas from Asia. Habitation sites are known in Alaska and the Yukon from at least 20,000 years ago, with suggested ages of up to 40,000 years. [24] [25] [26] Beyond that, the specifics of the Paleo-Indian migration to and throughout the Americas, including the dates and routes traveled, are subject to ongoing research and discussion. [27] Widespread habitation of the Americas occurred during the late glacial maximum, from 16,000 to 13,000 years ago. [26] [28]

Statue representing the Americas at Palazzo Ferreria, in Valletta, Malta Palazzo Ferreria statue 4 America.jpeg
Statue representing the Americas at Palazzo Ferreria, in Valletta, Malta

The traditional theory has been that these early migrants moved into the Beringia land bridge between eastern Siberia and present-day Alaska around 40,000–17,000 years ago, [29] when sea levels were significantly lowered during the Quaternary glaciation. [27] [30] These people are believed to have followed herds of now-extinct pleistocene megafauna along ice-free corridors that stretched between the Laurentide and Cordilleran ice sheets. [31] Another route proposed is that, either on foot or using primitive boats, they migrated down the Pacific coast to South America. [32] Evidence of the latter would since have been covered by a sea level rise of hundreds of meters following the last ice age. [33] Both routes may have been taken, although the genetic evidences suggests a single founding population. [34] The micro-satellite diversity and distributions specific to South American Indigenous people indicates that certain populations have been isolated since the initial colonization of the region. [35]

A second migration occurred after the initial peopling of the Americas; [36] Na Dene speakers found predominantly in North American groups at varying genetic rates with the highest frequency found among the Athabaskans at 42% derive from this second wave. [37] Linguists and biologists have reached a similar conclusion based on analysis of Amerindian language groups and ABO blood group system distributions. [36] [38] [39] [40] Then the people of the Arctic small tool tradition, a broad cultural entity that developed along the Alaska Peninsula, around Bristol Bay, and on the eastern shores of the Bering Strait c.2,500 BCE moved into North America. [41] The Arctic small tool tradition, a Paleo-Eskimo culture branched off into two cultural variants, including the Pre-Dorset, and the Independence traditions of Greenland. [42] The descendants of the Pre-Dorset cultural group, the Dorset culture was displaced by the final migrants from the Bering sea coast line, the ancestors of modern Inuit, the Thule people, by 1000  Common Era (CE). [42]

Norse colonization

Around the same time as the Inuit migrated into Greenland, Viking settlers began arriving in Greenland in 982 and Vinland shortly thereafter, establishing a settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows, near the northernmost tip of Newfoundland. [43] Contact between the Norse colonies and Europe was maintained, as James Watson Curran points out:

From 985 to 1410, Greenland was in touch with the world. Then silence. In 1492 the Vatican noted that no news of that country "at the end of the world" had been received for 80 years, and the bishopric of the colony was offered to a certain ecclesiastic if he would go and "restore Christianity" there. He didn't go. [44]

Large-scale European colonization

Christopher Columbus leads expedition to the New World, 1492. Landing of Columbus (2).jpg
Christopher Columbus leads expedition to the New World, 1492.

Although there had been previous trans-oceanic contact, large-scale European colonization of the Americas began with the first voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492. The first Spanish settlement in the Americas was La Isabela in northern Hispaniola. This town was abandoned shortly after in favor of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, founded in 1496, the oldest American city of European foundation. This was the base from which the Spanish monarchy administered its new colonies and their expansion. Santo Domingo was subject to frequent raids by English and French pirates. During most of the 18th century, however, privateers from Santo Domingo were the scourge of the Antilles, with Dutch, British, French and Danish vessels as their prizes. [45]

On the continent, Panama City on the Pacific coast of Central America, founded on August 15, 1519, played an important role, being the base for the Spanish conquest of South America. Conquistador Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón established San Miguel de Guadalupe, the first European settlement in what is now the United States, on the Pee Dee River in South Carolina. [46] During the first half of the 16th century, Spanish colonists conducted raids throughout the Caribbean Basin, bringing captives from Central America, northern South America, and Florida back to Hispaniola and other Spanish settlements. [47]

France, led by Jacques Cartier and Giovanni da Verrazano, [48] focused primarily on North America. English explorations of the Americas were led by Giovanni Caboto [49] and Sir Walter Raleigh. The Dutch in New Netherland confined their operations to Manhattan Island, Long Island, the Hudson River Valley, and what later became New Jersey. The spread of new diseases brought by Europeans and African slaves killed many of the inhabitants of North America and South America, [50] [51] with a general population crash of Native Americans occurring in the mid-16th century, often well ahead of European contact. [52] One of the most devastating diseases was smallpox. [53]

European immigrants were often part of state-sponsored attempts to found colonies in the Americas. Migration continued as people moved to the Americas fleeing religious persecution or seeking economic opportunities. Millions of individuals were forcibly transported to the Americas as slaves, prisoners or indentured servants.

Map showing the dates of independence from European powers. Black signifies areas that are dependent territories or parts of countries with a capital outside the Americas. Americas independence map.PNG
Map showing the dates of independence from European powers. Black signifies areas that are dependent territories or parts of countries with a capital outside the Americas.

Decolonization of the Americas began with the American Revolution and the Haitian Revolution in the late 1700s. This was followed by numerous Latin American wars of independence in the early 1800s. Between 1811 and 1825, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, Gran Colombia, the United Provinces of Central America, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia gained independence from Spain and Portugal in armed revolutions. After the Dominican Republic won independence from Haiti, it was re-annexed by Spain in 1861, but reclaimed its independence in 1865 at the conclusion of the Dominican Restoration War. The last violent episode of decolonization was the Cuban War of Independence which became the Spanish–American War, which resulted in the independence of Cuba in 1898, and the transfer of sovereignty over Puerto Rico from Spain to the United States.

Peaceful decolonization began with the purchase by the United States of Louisiana from France in 1803, Florida from Spain in 1819, of Alaska from Russia in 1867, and the Danish West Indies from Denmark in 1916. Canada became independent of the United Kingdom, starting with the Balfour Declaration of 1926, Statute of Westminster 1931, and ending with the patriation of the Canadian Constitution in 1982. The Dominion of Newfoundland similarly achieved partial independence under the Balfour Declaration and Statute of Westminster, but was re-absorbed into the United Kingdom in 1934. It was subsequently confederated with Canada in 1949.

The remaining European colonies in the Caribbean began to achieve peaceful independence well after World War II. Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago became independent in 1962, and Guyana and Barbados both achieved independence in 1966. In the 1970s, the Bahamas, Grenada, Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines all became independent of the United Kingdom, and Suriname became independent of the Netherlands. Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis achieved independence from the United Kingdom in the 1980s.


Satellite photo of the Americas on Earth Earth-DSCOVR-20150706-IFV.jpg
Satellite photo of the Americas on Earth


The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere. [54] The northernmost point of the Americas is Kaffeklubben Island, which is the most northerly point of land on Earth. [55] The southernmost point is the islands of Southern Thule, although they are sometimes considered part of Antarctica. [56] The mainland of the Americas is the world's longest north-to-south landmass. The distance between its two polar extremities, Murchison Promontory on the Boothia Peninsula in northern Canada and Cape Froward in Chilean Patagonia, is roughly 14,000 km (8,700 mi). [57] The mainland's most westerly point is the end of the Seward Peninsula in Alaska; Attu Island, further off the Alaskan coast to the west, is considered the westernmost point of the Americas. Ponta do Seixas in northeastern Brazil forms the easternmost extremity of the mainland, [57] while Nordostrundingen, in Greenland, is the most easterly point of the continental shelf.


South America broke off from the west of the supercontinent Gondwana around 135 million years ago, forming its own continent. [58] Around 15 million years ago, the collision of the Caribbean Plate and the Pacific Plate resulted in the emergence of a series of volcanoes along the border that created a number of islands. The gaps in the archipelago of Central America filled in with material eroded off North America and South America, plus new land created by continued volcanism. By three million years ago, the continents of North America and South America were linked by the Isthmus of Panama, thereby forming the single landmass of the Americas. [59] The Great American Interchange resulted in many species being spread across the Americas, such as the cougar, porcupine, opossums, armadillos and hummingbirds. [60]


Aconcagua, in Argentina, is the highest peak in the Americas Aconcagua 13.JPG
Aconcagua, in Argentina, is the highest peak in the Americas

The geography of the western Americas is dominated by the American Cordillera, with the Andes running along the west coast of South America [61] and the Rocky Mountains and other North American Cordillera ranges running along the western side of North America. [62] The 2,300-kilometer-long (1,400 mi) Appalachian Mountains run along the east coast of North America from Alabama to Newfoundland. [63] North of the Appalachians, the Arctic Cordillera runs along the eastern coast of Canada. [64]

The largest mountain ranges are the Andes and Rocky Mountains. The Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range reach similar altitudes as the Rocky Mountains, but are significantly smaller. In North America, the greatest number of fourteeners are in the United States, and more specifically in the U.S. state of Colorado. The highest peaks of the Americas are located in the Andes, with Aconcagua of Argentina being the highest; in North America Denali (Mount McKinley) in the U.S. state of Alaska is the tallest.

Between its coastal mountain ranges, North America has vast flat areas. The Interior Plains spread over much of the continent, with low relief. [65] The Canadian Shield covers almost 5 million km2 of North America and is generally quite flat. [66] Similarly, the north-east of South America is covered by the flat Amazon basin. [67] The Brazilian Highlands on the east coast are fairly smooth but show some variations in landform, while farther south the Gran Chaco and Pampas are broad lowlands. [68]


Climate zones of the Americas in the Koppen climate classification system. Americas Koppen Map.png
Climate zones of the Americas in the Köppen climate classification system.

The climate of the Americas varies significantly from region to region. Tropical rainforest climate occurs in the latitudes of the Amazon, American cloud forests, southeastern Florida and Darién Gap. In the Rocky Mountains and Andes, dry and continental climates are observed. Often the higher altitudes of these mountains are snow-capped.

Southeastern North America is well known for its occurrence of tornadoes and hurricanes, of which the vast majority of tornadoes occur in the United States' Tornado Alley, [69] as well as in the southerly Dixie Alley in the North American late-winter and early spring seasons. Often parts of the Caribbean are exposed to the violent effects of hurricanes. These weather systems are formed by the collision of dry, cool air from Canada and wet, warm air from the Atlantic.


With coastal mountains and interior plains, the Americas have several large river basins that drain the continents. The largest river basin in North America is that of the Mississippi, covering the second largest watershed on the planet. [70] The Mississippi-Missouri river system drains most of 31 states of the U.S., most of the Great Plains, and large areas between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. This river is the fourth longest in the world and tenth most powerful in the world.

In North America, to the east of the Appalachian Mountains, there are no major rivers but rather a series of rivers and streams that flow east with their terminus in the Atlantic Ocean, such as the Hudson River, Saint John River, and Savannah River. A similar instance arises with central Canadian rivers that drain into Hudson Bay; the largest being the Churchill River. On the west coast of North America, the main rivers are the Colorado River, Columbia River, Yukon River, Fraser River, and Sacramento River.

The Colorado River drains much of the Southern Rockies and parts of the Basin and Range Province. The river flows approximately 1,450 miles (2,330 km) into the Gulf of California, [71] during which over time it has carved out natural phenomena such as the Grand Canyon and created phenomena such as the Salton Sea. The Columbia is a large river, 1,243 miles (2,000 km) long, in central western North America and is the most powerful river on the West Coast of the Americas. In the far northwest of North America, the Yukon drains much of the Alaskan peninsula and flows 1,980 miles (3,190 km) [72] from parts of Yukon and the Northwest Territory to the Pacific. Draining to the Arctic Ocean of Canada, the Mackenzie River drains waters from the Arctic Great Lakes of Arctic Canada, as opposed to the Saint-Lawrence River that drains the Great Lakes of Southern Canada into the Atlantic Ocean. The Mackenzie River is the largest in Canada and drains 1,805,200 square kilometers (697,000 sq mi). [73]

The largest river basin in South America is that of the Amazon, which has the highest volume flow of any river on Earth. [74] The second largest watershed of South America is that of the Paraná River, which covers about 2.5 million km2. [75]


North America and South America began to develop a shared population of flora and fauna around 2.5 million years ago, when continental drift brought the two continents into contact via the Isthmus of Panama. Initially, the exchange of biota was roughly equal, with North American genera migrating into South America in about the same proportions as South American genera migrated into North America. This exchange is known as the Great American Interchange. The exchange became lopsided after roughly a million years, with the total spread of South American genera into North America far more limited in scope than the spread on North American genera into South America. [76]

Countries and territories

There are 35 sovereign states in the Americas, as well as an autonomous country of Denmark, three overseas departments of France, three overseas collectivities of France, [77] and one uninhabited territory of France, eight overseas territories of the United Kingdom, three constituent countries of the Netherlands, three public bodies of the Netherlands, two unincorporated territories of the United States, and one uninhabited territory of the United States. [78]

Country or territory Total area
(km2) [79]
[note 1]
(per km2)
Common languages
(official in bold)
Flag of Anguilla.svg  Anguilla (United Kingdom)9113,452164.8 English The Valley
Flag of Antigua and Barbuda.svg  Antigua and Barbuda 44286,295199.1 Creole, [80] English St. John's
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 2,766,89042,669,50014.3 Spanish Buenos Aires
Flag of Aruba.svg  Aruba (Netherlands)180101,484594.4 Papiamentu , Spanish, [81] Dutch Oranjestad
Flag of the Bahamas.svg  Bahamas, The 13,943351,46124.5 Creole, [82] English Nassau
Flag of Barbados.svg  Barbados 430285,000595.3 Bajan, [83] English Bridgetown
Flag of Belize.svg  Belize 22,966349,72813.4 Spanish, Kriol, English [84] Belmopan
Flag of Bermuda.svg  Bermuda (United Kingdom)5464,2371,203.7 English Hamilton
Bandera de Bolivia (Estado).svg  Bolivia 1,098,58010,027,2548.4 Spanish and 36 indigenous languages La Paz and Sucre [85]
Flag of Bonaire.svg  Bonaire (Netherlands)29412,09341.1 Papiamentu , Spanish, Dutch [86] Kralendijk
Flag of Norway.svg  Bouvet Island (Norway) [87] 4900Uninhabited 
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 8,514,877203,106,00023.6 Portuguese Brasília
Flag of the British Virgin Islands.svg  British Virgin Islands (United Kingdom)15129,537152.3 English Road Town
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 9,984,67037,411,5923.8 English , French Ottawa
Flag of the Cayman Islands.svg  Cayman Islands (United Kingdom)26455,456212.1 English George Town
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile [88] 756,95017,773,00022 Spanish Santiago
Flag of France.svg  Clipperton Island (France)6 [89] 0 [90] 0.0Uninhabited 
Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia 1,138,91047,757,00040 Spanish Bogotá
Flag of Costa Rica.svg  Costa Rica 51,1004,667,09689.6 Spanish San José
Flag of Cuba.svg  Cuba 109,88611,167,325102.0 Spanish Havana
Flag of Curacao.svg  Curaçao (Netherlands)444150,563317.1 Papiamentu, Dutch [86] Willemstad
Flag of Dominica.svg  Dominica 75171,29389.2 French Patois, English [91] Roseau
Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg  Dominican Republic 48,67110,378,267207.3 Spanish Santo Domingo
Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador 283,56015,819,40053.8 Spanish , Quechua [92] Quito
Flag of El Salvador.svg  El Salvador 21,0416,401,240293.0 Spanish San Salvador
Flag of the Falkland Islands.svg  Falkland Islands (United Kingdom) [93] 12,1733,0000.26 English Stanley
Flag of France.svg  French Guiana (France)91,000237,5492.7 French Cayenne
Flag of Greenland.svg  Greenland (Kingdom of Denmark)2,166,08656,4830.026 Greenlandic , Danish Nuuk
Flag of Grenada.svg  Grenada 344103,328302.3 English St. George's
Flag of France.svg  Guadeloupe (France)1,628405,739246.7 French Basse-Terre
Flag of Guatemala.svg  Guatemala 108,88915,806,675128.8 Spanish , Garifuna and 23 Mayan languages Guatemala City
Flag of Guyana.svg  Guyana 214,999784,8943.5 English Georgetown
Flag of Haiti.svg  Haiti 27,75010,745,665361.5 Creole , French Port-au-Prince
Flag of Honduras (darker variant).svg  Honduras 112,4928,555,07266.4 Spanish Tegucigalpa
Flag of Jamaica.svg  Jamaica 10,9912,717,991247.4 Patois, English Kingston
Flag of France.svg  Martinique (France)1,128392,291352.6 Patois, [94] French Fort-de-France
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico 1,964,375119,713,20357.1 Spanish, 68 indigenous languages Mexico City
Flag of Montserrat.svg  Montserrat (United Kingdom)1024,92258.8 Creole English, English [95] Plymouth; Brades [96]
Navassa Island (United States / Haiti)5 [89] 0 [90] 0.0Uninhabited 
Flag of Nicaragua.svg  Nicaragua 130,3736,071,04544.1 Spanish Managua
Flag of Panama.svg  Panama 75,4173,405,81345.8 Spanish Panama City
Flag of Paraguay.svg  Paraguay 406,7506,783,37415.6 Guaraní , Spanish Asunción
Flag of Peru.svg  Peru 1,285,22030,814,17522 Spanish, Quechua, and other indigenous languages Lima
Flag of Puerto Rico.svg  Puerto Rico (United States)8,8703,615,086448.9 Spanish , English San Juan
Flag of Saba.svg  Saba (Netherlands)131,537 [97] 118.2 English, Dutch The Bottom
Flag of France.svg  Saint Barthélemy (France)21 [89] 8,938 [90] 354.7 French Gustavia
Flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis.svg  Saint Kitts and Nevis 26155,000199.2 English Basseterre
Flag of Saint Lucia.svg  Saint Lucia 539180,000319.1 English , French Creole Castries
Flag of France.svg  Saint Martin (France)54 [89] 36,979552.2 French Marigot
Flag of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.svg Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France)2426,08124.8 French Saint-Pierre
Flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.svg  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 389109,000280.2 English Kingstown
Flag of Sint Eustatius.svg  Sint Eustatius (Netherlands)212,739 [97] 130.4 Dutch , English Oranjestad
Flag of Sint Maarten.svg  Sint Maarten (Netherlands)3437,4291,176.7 English , Spanish, Dutch Philipsburg
Flag of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.svg South Georgia and
South Sandwich Islands
3,093200.01 English Grytviken
Flag of Suriname.svg  Suriname 163,270534,1893 Dutch and others [99] Paramaribo
Flag of Trinidad and Tobago.svg  Trinidad and Tobago 5,1301,328,019261.0 English Port of Spain
Flag of the Turks and Caicos Islands.svg  Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)94831,45834.8 Creole English, English [100] Cockburn Town
Flag of the United States.svg  United States of America [note 2] 9,629,091320,206,00034.2 English, Spanish Washington, D.C.
Flag of the United States Virgin Islands.svg  U.S. Virgin Islands (United States)347106,405317.0 English, Spanish Charlotte Amalie
Flag of Uruguay.svg  Uruguay 176,2203,286,31419.4 Spanish Montevideo
Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela 916,44530,206,30730.2 Spanish and 40 indigenous languages Caracas



In 2021 the total population of the Americas was about 1.03 billion people, divided as follows: [note 1] [101]

Largest urban centers

There are three urban centers that each hold titles for being the largest population area based on the three main demographic concepts: [102]

A city proper is the locality with legally fixed boundaries and an administratively recognized urban status that is usually characterized by some form of local government. [103] [104] [105] [106] [107]
An urban area is characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Urban areas may be cities, towns or conurbations, but the term is not commonly extended to rural settlements such as villages and hamlets. Urban areas are created and further developed by the process of urbanization and do not include large swaths of rural land, as do metropolitan areas.[ citation needed ]
Unlike an urban area, a metropolitan area includes not only the urban area, but also satellite cities plus intervening rural land that is socio-economically connected to the urban core city, typically by employment ties through commuting, with the urban core city being the primary labor market.[ citation needed ]

In accordance with these definitions, the three largest population centers in the Americas are: Mexico City, anchor to the largest metropolitan area in the Americas; New York City, anchor to the largest urban area in the Americas; and São Paulo, the largest city proper in the Americas. All three cities maintain Alpha classification and large scale influence.

CountryCityCity PopulationMetro Area Population
Mexico Mexico City 8,864,000 [108] 22,300,000 [109]
Brazil São Paulo 12,038,175 [110] 21,742,939 [111]
United States New York City 8,405,837 [112] 19,949,502 [113]
Argentina Buenos Aires 2,891,082 [14] 15,594,428 [14]
United States Los Angeles 3,928,864 [114] 13,131,431 [115]


The population of the Americas is made up of the descendants of four large ethnic groups and their combinations.

The majority of the population live in Latin America, named for its predominant cultures, rooted in Latin Europe (including the two dominant languages, Spanish and Portuguese, both Romance languages), more specifically in the Iberian nations of Portugal and Spain (hence the use of the term Ibero-America as a synonym). Latin America is typically contrasted with Anglo-America, where English, a Germanic language, is prevalent, and which comprises Canada (with the exception of francophone Canada rooted in Latin Europe [France]—see Québec and Acadia) and the United States. Both countries are located in North America, with cultures deriving predominantly from Anglo-Saxon and other Germanic roots.


The most prevalent faiths in the Americas are as follows:

Other faiths include Buddhism; Hinduism; Sikhism; Baháʼí Faith; a wide variety of indigenous religions, many of which can be categorized as animistic; new age religions and many African and African-derived religions. Syncretic faiths can also be found throughout the Americas.

Religious Demographics According to 2010 censuses/estimates in each country
Country Christians Catholics Protestants None/Atheists/Agnostics Others
Argentina [125] 86.2%76.5%9.7%11.3%2.5%
Brazil [126] 86.8%64.6%22.2%8.4%4.8%
Canada [120] 62.6%38.7%23.9%28.5%8.9%
Chile [127] 76.0%60.0%16.0%21.0%3.0%
Colombia [128] 93.9%80.3%13.6%5.2%1.7%
Costa Rica [129] 84.3%70.5%13.8%11.3%4.3%
Dominican Republic [130] 87.1%68.3%18.8%10.6%2.2%
Ecuador [131] 95.6%87.8%7.7%3.5%1.0%
El Salvador [132] 75.5%45.8%29.7%24.3%1.2%
Guatemala [133] 79.3%47.6%31.7%18.3%2.4%
Honduras [134] 83.0%47.9%35.1%14.3%2.7%
Mexico [135] 92.2%82.7%8.7%4.9%2.9%
Nicaragua [136] 81.1%54.3%26.8%16.8%2.1%
Peru [137] 96.7%81.3%12.5%1.9%1.4%
United States [138] 79.9%25.9%54.0%15.2%5.0%
Uruguay [139] 58.2%47.1%11.1%40.4%1.5%
Venezuela [140] 89.0%72.0%17.0%8.0%3.0%


Languages spoken in the Americas Languages of the American Continent.png
Languages spoken in the Americas

Various languages are spoken in the Americas. Some are of European origin, others are spoken by indigenous peoples or are the mixture of various languages like the different creoles. [129]

The most widely spoken language in the Americas is Spanish. [141] The dominant language of Latin America is Spanish, though the most populous nation in Latin America, Brazil, speaks Portuguese. Small enclaves of French-, Dutch- and English-speaking regions also exist in Latin America, notably in French Guiana, Suriname, and Belize and Guyana respectively. Haitian Creole is dominant in the nation of Haiti, where French is also spoken. Native languages are more prominent in Latin America than in Anglo-America, with Nahuatl, Quechua, Aymara and Guaraní as the most common. Various other native languages are spoken with less frequency across both Anglo-America and Latin America. Creole languages other than Haitian Creole are also spoken in parts of Latin America.

The dominant language of Anglo-America is English. French is also official in Canada, where it is the predominant language in Quebec and an official language in New Brunswick along with English. It is also an important language in Louisiana, and in parts of New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. Spanish has kept an ongoing presence in the Southwestern United States, which formed part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, especially in California and New Mexico, where a distinct variety of Spanish spoken since the 17th century has survived. It has more recently become widely spoken in other parts of the United States because of heavy immigration from Latin America. High levels of immigration in general have brought great linguistic diversity to Anglo-America, with over 300 languages known to be spoken in the United States alone, but most languages are spoken only in small enclaves and by relatively small immigrant groups.

The nations of Guyana, Suriname, and Belize are generally considered[ by whom? ] not to fall into either Anglo-America or Latin America because of their language differences from Latin America, geographic differences from Anglo-America, and cultural and historical differences from both regions; English is the primary language of Guyana and Belize, and Dutch is the primary language of Suriname.

Most of the non-native languages have, to different degrees, evolved differently from the mother country, but are usually still mutually intelligible. Some have combined, however, which has even resulted in completely new languages, such as Papiamento, which is a combination of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch (representing the respective colonizers), native Arawak, various African languages, and, more recently English. The lingua franca Portuñol, a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish, is spoken in the border regions of Brazil and neighboring Spanish-speaking countries. [142] More specifically, Riverense Portuñol is spoken by around 100,000 people in the border regions of Brazil and Uruguay. Because of immigration, there are many communities where other languages are spoken from all parts of the world, especially in the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay—very important destinations for immigrants. [143] [144] [145]


Subdivisions of the Americas
  North America (NA)
  South America (SA)
  May be included in
       either NA or SA
  North America (NA)
  May be included in NA
  Central America
  South America
  North America (NA)
  May be included in NA

       Northern America

  Middle America (MA)
  Caribbean (may be
        included in MA)
  South America (SA)
  May be included
        in MA or SA
  Anglo-America (A-A)
  May be included in A-A
  Latin America (LA)
  May be included in LA


Speakers of English generally refer to the landmasses of North America and South America as the Americas, the Western Hemisphere , or the New World . [6] The adjective American may be used to indicate something pertains to the Americas, [3] but this term is primarily used in English to indicate something pertaining to the United States. [3] [146] [147] Some non-ambiguous alternatives exist, such as the adjective Pan-American, [148] or New Worlder as a demonym for a resident of the closely related New World. [4] Use of America in the hemispherical sense is sometimes retained, or can occur when translated from other languages. [149] For example, the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) in Paris maintains a single continental association for "America", represented by one of the five Olympic rings. [150]

American essayist H.L. Mencken said, "The Latin-Americans use Norteamericano in formal writing, but, save in Panama, prefer nicknames in colloquial speech." [151] To avoid "American" one can use constructed terms in their languages derived from "United States" or even "North America". [147] [152] [153] In Canada, its southern neighbor is often referred to as "the United States", "the U.S.A.", or (informally) "the States", while U.S. citizens are generally referred to as "Americans". [147] Most Canadians resent being referred to as "Americans". [147]


In Spanish, América is a single continent composed of the subcontinents of América del Sur and América del Norte, the land bridge of América Central, and the islands of the Antillas . Americano or americana in Spanish refers to a person from América in a similar way that in which europeo or europea refers to a person from Europa. The terms sudamericano/a, centroamericano/a, antillano/a and norteamericano/a can be used to more specifically refer to the location where a person may live.

Citizens of the United States of America are normally referred to by the term estadounidense (rough literal translation: "United Statesian") instead of americano or americana which is discouraged, [154] [155] and the country's name itself is officially translated as Estados Unidos de América (United States of America), commonly abbreviated as Estados Unidos (EEUU). [155] Also, the term norteamericano (North American) may refer to a citizen of the United States. This term is primarily used to refer to citizens of the United States, and less commonly to those of other North American countries. [154]


In Portuguese, América [156] is a single continent composed of América do Sul (South America), América Central (Central America) and América do Norte (North America). [157] It can be ambiguous, as América can be used to refer to the United States of America, but is avoided in print and formal environments. [158] [159]


In French the word américain may be used for things relating to the Americas; however, similar to English, it is most often used for things relating to the United States, with the term états-unien sometimes used for clarity. Panaméricain may be used as an adjective to refer to the Americas without ambiguity. [160] French speakers may use the noun Amérique to refer to the whole landmass as one continent, or two continents, Amérique du Nord and Amérique du Sud. In French, Amérique is seldom used to refer to the United States, leading to some ambiguity when it is. Similar to English usage, les Amériques or des Amériques is used to refer unambiguously to the Americas.


In Dutch, the word Amerika mostly refers to the United States. [161] [162] Although the United States is equally often referred to as de Verenigde Staten ("the United States") or de VS ("the US"), Amerika relatively rarely refers to the Americas, but it is the only commonly used Dutch word for the Americas. This often leads to ambiguity; and to stress that something concerns the Americas as a whole, Dutch uses a combination, namely Noord- en Zuid-Amerika (North and South America).

Latin America and Central America are generally referred to as Latijns Amerika and Midden-Amerika respectively.

The adjective Amerikaans is most often used for things or people relating to the United States. There are no alternative words to distinguish between things relating to the United States or to the Americas. Dutch uses the local alternative for things relating to elsewhere in the Americas, such as Argentijns for Argentine, etc.

Multinational organizations

The following is a list of multinational organizations in the Americas.


RankCountry GDP (nominal, peak year)
millions of USD [163]
Peak year
1Flag of the United States.svg  United States 22,939,5802021
2Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 2,614,0272011
3Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 2,015,9832021
4Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico 1,315,3562014
5Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 643,8612017
6Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia 382,0932013
7Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela 352,5402011
8Flag of Chile.svg  Chile 331,2502021
9Flag of Peru.svg  Peru 230,8652019
10Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador 108,1082019
RankCountry GDP (PPP, peak year)
millions of USD
Peak year
1Flag of the United States.svg  United States 22,939,5802021
2Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 3,437,6092021
3Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico 2,685,2532021
4Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 2,027,3712021
5Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 1,049,4012021
6Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia 812,7992021
7Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela 561,8172013
8Flag of Chile.svg  Chile 522,7902021
9Flag of Peru.svg  Peru 453,6522021
10Flag of Cuba.svg  Cuba 254,8652015

In exports and imports, in 2020, the United States was the world's second largest exporter (US$1.64 trillion) and the largest importer (US$2.56 trillion). Mexico was the tenth largest exporter and importer. Canada was the twelfth largest exporter and importer. Brazil was the 24th largest exporter and the 28th largest importer. Chile was the 45th largest exporter and the 47th largest importer. Argentina was the 46th largest exporter and the 52nd largest importer. Colombia was the 54th largest exporter and the 51st largest importer; among others. [164] [165] [166]

The agriculture of the continent is very strong and varied. Countries such as United States, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and Argentina are among the largest agricultural producers on the planet. In 2019, the continent dominated the world production of soy (almost 90% of the world total, with Brazil, the United States, Argentina, Paraguay, Canada and Bolivia among the 10 largest on the planet), sugarcane (about 55% of the world total, with Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala among the 10 largest on the planet), coffee (about 55% of the world total, with Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Peru and Guatemala among the 10 largest on the planet) and maize (about 48% of the world total, with the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico among the 10 largest on the planet). The continent also produces almost 40% of world's orange (with Brazil, the US and Mexico among the top 10 producers), about 37% of world's pineapple (with Costa Rica, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia among the 10 largest producers), about 35% of world's lemon (with Mexico, Argentina and Brazil among the 10 largest producers) and about 30% of world's cotton (with the US, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina among the top 10 producers), among several other products. [167]

In livestock, America also has giant productions. In 2018, the continent produced around 45% of the world's beef (with the US, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Canada among the world's 10 largest producers); about 36% of the world's chicken meat (with the US, Brazil and Mexico among the world's 10 largest producers), and about 28% of the world's cow's milk (with the US and Brazil among the 10 largest producers in the world), among other products. [167]

In industrial terms, the World Bank lists the top producing countries each year, based on the total value of production. According to the 2019 list, the United States has the second most valuable industry in the world (US$2.3 trillion), Mexico has the 12th most valuable industry in the world (US$217.8 billion), Brazil has the 13th most valuable industry. valuable in the world (US$173.6 billion), Canada has the 15th most valuable industry in the world (US$151.7 billion), Venezuela the 30th largest (US$58.2 billion, but depends on the oil to obtain this amount), Argentina was the 31st largest (US$57.7 billion), Colombia the 46th largest (US$35.4 billion), Peru the 50th largest ($28.7 billion), and Chile the 51st largest (US$28.3 billion), among others. [168]

In the production of oil, the continent had 8 of the 30 largest world producers in 2020: United States (1st), Canada (4th), Brazil (8th), Mexico (14th), Colombia (20th), Venezuela (26th), Ecuador (27th) and Argentina (28th). [169]

In the production of natural gas, the continent had 8 of the 32 largest world producers in 2015: United States (1st), Canada (5th), Argentina (18th), Trinidad and Tobago (20th), Mexico (21st), Venezuela (28th), Bolivia (31st) and Brazil (32nd). [170] [171]

In the production of coal, the continent had 5 of the 30 largest world producers in 2018: United States (3rd), Colombia (12th), Canada (13th), Mexico (24th) and Brazil (27th). [172]

In the production of vehicles, the continent had 5 of the 30 largest world producers in 2019: United States (2nd), Mexico (7th), Brazil (9th), Canada (12th) and Argentina (28th). [173]

In the production of steel, the continent had 5 of the 31 largest world producers in 2019: United States (4th), Brazil (9th), Mexico (15th), Canada (18th) and Argentina (31st). [174] [175]

In mining, the continent has large productions of gold (mainly in the United States, Canada, Peru, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina); [176] silver (mainly in Mexico, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina and the USA); [177] copper (mainly in Chile, Peru, USA, Mexico and Brazil); [178] platinum (Canada and US); [179] iron ore (Brazil, Canada, USA, Peru and Chile); [180] zinc (Peru, USA, Mexico, Bolivia, Canada and Brazil); [181] molybdenum (Chile, Peru, Mexico, Canada, USA); [182] lithium (Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Canada); [183] lead (Peru, USA, Mexico and Bolivia); [184] bauxite (Brazil, Jamaica, Canada, and USA); [185] tin (Peru, Bolivia and Brazil); [186] manganese (Brazil and Mexico); [187] antimony (Bolivia, Mexico, Guatemala, Canada and Ecuador); [188] nickel (Canada, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Cuba and USA); [189] niobium (Brazil and Canada); [190] rhenium (Chile and USA); [191] and iodine (Chile), [192] among others.

Dominica, Panama and the Dominican Republic have the fastest-growing economy in the Americas according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), [193] 16, five to seven countries in the southern part of the Americas had weakening economies in decline, compared to only three countries in the northern part of the Americas. [194] [195] Haiti has the lowest GDP per capita in the Americas, although its economy was growing slightly as of 2016. [194] [195]

See also


  1. Includes the states of Hawaii and Alaska, which are both separated from the US mainland, with Hawaii distant from the North American landmass in the Pacific Ocean and therefore more commonly associated with the other territories of Oceania, while Alaska is located between Canada and Asia (Russia).

Related Research Articles

History of the Americas Aspect of history

The prehistory of the Americas begins with people migrating to these areas from Asia during the height of an Ice Age. These groups are generally believed to have been isolated from the people of the "Old World" until the coming of Europeans in the 10th century from Iceland led by Leif Erikson and in 1492 with the voyages of Christopher Columbus.

Latin America Region of the Americas where Romance languages are primarily spoken

Latin America is the portion of the Americas comprising countries and regions where Romance languages—languages that derived from Latin—such as Spanish, Portuguese, and French are predominantly spoken. The term is used for those places once ruled under the Spanish, Portuguese, and French empires. Parts of the United States and Canada where Romance languages are primarily spoken are not usually included due to being collectively grouped as Anglo-America. The term 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 is also more recent in origin.

North America Continent

North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of a single continent, America. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea, and to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean. Because it is on the North American Tectonic Plate, Greenland is included as part of North America geographically.

South America Continent

South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. It can also be described as the southern subregion of a single continent called America. The reference to South America instead of other cultural or geographical regions has increased in recent decades due to changing geopolitical dynamics.

White is a racialized classification of people and a skin color specifier, generally used for people of European origin; although the definition can vary depending on context, nationality, and point of view. In the US, this term has at times been expanded to encompass persons of Mexican, South Asian, West Asian, and North African descent, persons who are often considered "non-White" in other contexts in the United States. It has also been alleged that, in the United States, people of Southern European and even Irish descent have been excluded from this category, although this idea has been contested. The usage of "White people" or a "White race" for a large group of mainly or exclusively European populations, defined by their light skin, among other physical characteristics, and contrasting with "black", "red", "brown", "yellow", and other "colored" people or "persons of color", originated in the 17th century. Until the end of the 18th century, Europeans also described peoples of East Asia as "White". The term "white" may or may not be capitalized. The National Association of Black Journalists recommended that the "w" in white be capitalized in 2020. The AP Stylebook says that the "w" should not be capitalized.

Indigenous languages of the Americas Languages indigenous to the Americas

Over a thousand Indigenous languages are spoken by the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. These languages cannot all be demonstrated to be related to each other and are classified into a hundred or so language families, as well as a number of extinct languages that are unclassified due to a lack of data.

Southern Cone Southern subregion of South America

The Southern Cone is a geographical and cultural subregion composed of the southernmost areas of South America, mostly south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Traditionally, it covers Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. In terms of social, economic and political geography, the Southern Cone comprises Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, and sometimes includes Brazil's four southernmost states. In its broadest definition, taking into account common history and geography, it also includes Paraguay, another Spanish-speaking country.

Hispanic America Predominantly Spanish-speaking countries of North and South America

Hispanic America is the portion of the Americas comprising the Spanish-speaking countries of North, Central, and South America. In all of these countries, Spanish is the main language, sometimes sharing official status with one or more indigenous languages, or English and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion.

This article details the geographical distribution of speakers of the German language, regardless of the legislative status within the countries where it is spoken. In addition to the German-speaking area in Europe, German-speaking minorities are present in many countries and on all six inhabited continents.

The economy of South America comprises approximately 430 million people living in twelve nations and three territories. It encompasses 6 percent of the world's population.

Latin Americans are the citizens of Latin American countries. Latin American countries and their diasporas are multi-ethnic and multi-racial. Latin Americans are a pan-ethnicity consisting of people of different ethnic and national backgrounds. As a result, some Latin Americans do not take their nationality as an ethnicity, but identify themselves with a combination of their nationality, ethnicity and their ancestral origins. Aside from the Indigenous Amerindian population, all Latin Americans have some Old World ancestors who arrived since 1492. Latin America has the largest diasporas of Spaniards, Portuguese, black Africans, Italians, Lebanese and Japanese in the world. The region also has large German, French, Palestinian, Chinese and Jewish diasporas.

Asian Latin Americans or Latinasians are Latin Americans of full or partial Asian descent. The term generally refers to those of East Asian background, but can encompass other Asian ethnic groups. Asian Latin Americans have a centuries-long history in the region, starting with Filipinos in the 16th century. The peak of Asian immigration occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries. There are currently more than four million Asian Latin Americans, nearly 1% of Latin America's population. Chinese, Japanese and the Lebanese are the largest Asian ancestries; other major ethnic groups include Indians, Koreans and Filipinos. Brazil is home to the largest population of East Asian descent, estimated at about 2.08 million by majority are Japanese. With as much as 5% of their population having some degree of Chinese ancestry, Mexico has the highest ratio of any country for East Asian descent with 1.9 million.While Peru has more Japanese influences in there culture from Japanese immigrants.

Americas (terminology) Geographical term

The Americas, also known as America, are lands of the Western Hemisphere, composed of numerous entities and regions variably defined by geography, politics, and culture.

South America has an estimated population of 418,76 million people.

European emigration is the successive emigration waves from the European continent to other continents. The origins of the various European diasporas can be traced to the people who left the European nation states or stateless ethnic communities on the European continent.

Argentines People of the country of Argentina or who identify as culturally Argentine

Argentines (also known as Argentinians or Argentineans; in Spanish argentinos or argentinas are people identified with the country of Argentina. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Argentines, several of these connections exist and are collectively the source of their being Argentine.

The Latin American diaspora refers to the dispersion of Latin Americans out of their homelands in Latin America and the communities subsequently established by them across the world.

Latin American economy Overview of the economy of Latin American

Latin America as a region has multiple nation-states, with varying levels of economic complexity. The Latin American economy is an export-based economy consisting of individual countries in the geographical regions of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The socioeconomic patterns of what is now called Latin America were set in the colonial era when the region was controlled by the Spanish and Portuguese empires. Up until independence in the early nineteenth century, colonial Latin American regional economies thrived and worked things out. Many parts of the region had favorable factor endowments of deposits of precious metals, mainly silver, or tropical climatic conditions and locations near coasts that allowed for the development of cane sugar plantations. In the nineteenth century following independence, many economies of Latin America declined. In the late nineteenth century, much of Latin America was integrated into the world economy as an exporter of commodities. Foreign capital investment, construction of infrastructure, such as railroads, growth in the labor sector with immigration from abroad, strengthening of institutions, and expansion of education aided industrial growth and economic expansion. A number of regions have thriving economies, but "poverty and inequality have been deeply rooted in Latin American societies since the early colonial era."


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