Latin America

About Latin America

Area: 21,069,501 km2 (8,134,980 sq mi) Population: 570 millones
Pop. density: 27 per sq km (70 per sq mile) Demonym: Latin American
Countries: 20 : Argentina; Bolivia; Chile; Costa Rica; Brazil; Colombia; Cuba; Dominica Republic; Ecuador; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Puerto Rico; Uruguay; Venezuela.
Languages: Spanish, Portuguese, French Time Zones: UTC-2 to UTC-8
Largest cities: 1. Mexico City (Mexico) 6. Bogota (Colombia)

2. São Paulo (Brazil) 7. Santiago (Chile)

3. Buenos Aires (Argentina) 8. Belo Horizonte (Brazil)

4. Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) 9. Caracas (Venezuela)

5. Lima (Peru) 10. Guadalajara (Mexico)
Latin America (Spanish: América Latina or Latinoamérica; Portuguese: América Latina; French: Amérique Latine) is a region of the Americas where Romance languages (i.e., those derived from Latin) – particularly Spanish, Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken.
Economy According to Sachs review of emerging economies, by 2050 the largest economies in the world will be as follows: China, USA, Mexico, India, and Brazil; Two of the largest five economies in the world are Latin American. More significant is that on per capita basis most Latin American countries, including all the large countries (Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Venezuela and Colombia), have per capita GDPs greater than that of China in 2009, while some of this group are substantially more developed than China.
History The earliest known settlement was identified at Monte Verde, near Puerto Montt in Southern Chile. Its occupation dates to some 14,000 years ago and there is some disputed evidence of even earlier occupation. Over the course of millennia, people spread to all parts of the continents. The Chibchas of Colombia, the Quechuas and Aymaras of Bolivia and Perú were the three Indian groups that settled most permanently. The region was home to many indigenous peoples and advanced civilizations, including the Aztecs, Toltecs, Caribs, Tupi, Maya, and Inca. The Aztec empire was ultimately the most powerful civilization known throughout the Americas, until its downfall caused by the Spanish invasion.
Culture: Indigenous. Western civilization, in particular the culture of Europe,—the Spanish, Portuguese and French—between the 16th and 19th centuries. The most enduring European colonial influence is language and Roman Catholicism.. The influence of the United States is particularly strong in northern Latin America, especially Puerto Rico, which is a United States territory. South America experienced waves of immigration of Europeans, especially Italians and Germans. African cultures, whose presence derives from a long history of New World slavery. This is manifest for instance in dance and religion, especially in countries such as Brazil, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Panama, Haiti, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Cuba.
Crime and Violence– Crime and violence prevention and public security are now important issues for governments and citizens in Latin America and the Caribbean region. In 2005, violence was the main cause of death in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Mexico and Honduras. They say that growing social inequality is fuelling crime in the region. Countries with relatively low crime are Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay.

USA – Latin American Trade

Latin America is far from the largest U.S. regional trade partner, but it has long been the fastest growing one, with the current exception of Africa. Between 1996 and 2009, total U.S. merchandise trade (exports plus imports) with Latin America grew by 288% compared to 126% for Asia (driven largely by China), 133% for the European Union, 392% for Africa, and 140% for rest of the world .There are two important trends. First, Mexico has historically been by far the largest U.S. trade partner in Latin America, but total trade with many other Latin American countries increased faster in 2008, skewed heavily by their oil exports. Second, for the second consecutive year, U.S. exports to Latin America grew faster than U.S. imports.

U.S. Direction of Total Trade, 1996 and 2009
1996: $1,414 billon 2010: $3,400 billon


In the United States, total merchandise trade has become an increasingly important component of the economy, growing from 8.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1970 to 23.6% in 2009. Latin America’s growing importance as a U.S. trade partner is a key aspect of this trend. Since the1980s, many Latin American countries have adopted trade liberalization as part of broader Economic reform programs. Trade reform, however, has not been embraced with equal vigor by all countries and U.S. exports are not all treated equally under various liberalization schemes. Also, trade reform has stalled or even reversed in some countries when faced with economic instability or changing Political philosophy.

The trade data suggest that there may be room for growth in trade between South America and the United States. Trade policy changes could provide some of the basis for growth in U.S.-South American trade, but they may not be immediately huge given South America’s historically small interest in the United States and the limited size of its markets. Still, many economists believe that lowering barriers to U.S. exports and guaranteeing market access may generate long-term Trade and investment opportunities, which in turn could lead to higher growth in productivity and output, with both producer and consumer benefits. Similarly, the prospect for even greater access to the large U.S. market presents attractive opportunities for South American countries, as well.
(Source: U.S. Department of Commerce data as presented in World Trade Atlas).

Business Culture and Etiquette


“Latino American Business Culture and Etiquette”

South America is the fourth largest continent on the planet, making up 12% of the earth’s superficies. The continent has a diverse population. There are small units of native Indian and significant European descendents of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and German. There are also a large number of Chinese and Japanese. Approximately 90 to 95% of South Americans are Roman Catholic.

Latin America is comprised of Central and South America. An important trade partner, United States trade with Latin America is approximately $134.5 billion in exports (20% of total exports).Even though there are important and distinct differences within this major region of the world, there are some common habits and similarities within the Latin-American culture: All speak Spanish, except in Brazil where the national language is Portuguese (Brazil was a Colony of Portugal and the rest colonies of Spain).

Latinos will usually stand closer together during conversations, so be prepared for that plus casual touching and, of course, the abrazo, or embrace, among good friends. You may even be startled to have a Latin businessman hold your elbow while conversing or walking. Latinos are very warm and friendly people and enjoy social conversation before getting down to business. This is a calculated process aimed at getting to know you personally. Latinos tend to be more interested in you, the person, than you as a representative of some faceless corporation.The main meal of the day is usually taken at midday throughout all Latin-American countries.However, this should not stop you from also hosting your business guests over dinner in the evening. Most Latin business people know about American dining customs and in their own country will entertain in the evening at a restaurant for special occasions. When toasting, the host is customarily expected to make the first toast with the guest then probably responding.

In all Latin countries, the attitude toward time is less rigid than among North Americans, and a thirty-minute delay should not be a surprise. Some Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America are not very rigid about punctuality. One source states that in Argentina, you should be prepared for meetings, which start after the scheduled time. However, it should be noted that this is not always the case in other Spanish-speaking countries. For example, attempts to arrive on time for business appointments are respected in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. However, for social events such as dinners, coming late by at least fifteen minutes is not usually considered bad manners.

Expect some small talk or discussion of extraneous topics at the beginning of business meetings. This helps to establish some rapport, and older businessmen, especially, would prefer to know something about the person with whom they are dealing. Younger ones may be less concerned about this social aspect.

It would probably be a good idea to get to know something about what certain gestures may mean in the Latin-American country of interest. This is important if you do not want to offend hosts and others with whom you may interact. For example, one source reports that you should never decline an offer of coffee in Venezuela since it is a symbol of hospitality. Eating with the hands or drinking from the bottle is bad! It is also said that in some Latin-American countries, people converse at proximities that are much closer than that which is usually normal to those in tune with a more North American or British cultural approach. However, though you may be uncomfortable with this type of intimacy, moving away might be considered unfriendly.

The American symbol for “okay” is considered a rude gesture in Brazil. Slapping your right fist into your left palm in Chile is also obscene. Holding your palm up with your fingers spread means “stupid” to Chileans. Don’t ruin your presentation by inadvertently including vulgar gestures, and don’t fidget. It’s particularly annoying in Ecuador when someone makes repeated movements, fiddles with his tie, or taps a pen. If you’re looking for an additional source of luck in your meeting in Paraguay, don’t cross your fingers.
It denotes no respect at all. As in other countries, firm handshakes, direct eye contact, and a welcoming smile when you are introducing yourself to someone is standard if you want to make a good first impression. It may also be best to use the appropriate greeting for the time of day: buenas días for “good morning,” buenas tardes for “good afternoon,” and buenas noches for “good evening.”

If unsure about how to address someone, the best policy is to always ask what he or she may prefer. They can be addressed by their professional titles (for example, if they are a doctor you can refer to them as such). Or you can address them as señor, señora or señorita, (mister,missus, and miss) followed by their surnames. Of course, many Latin Americans use both their paternal and maternal surnames with the father’s surname listed first. In some instances, it might be okay to address your Latin-American associate with just the father’s surname. Appearances are very important in most Latin-American countries. Many respond better to those who come to meetings dressed in proper business attire. Men should, for example, wear
conservative dark suits and women stylish business suits. In Argentina, it is said that they evaluate someone’s attire starting with the quality of their shoes!

Bienvenido ! Welcome !

Buena Suerte ! Good Luck !

Hasta Luego ! See you Later !

Chau, Adios ! By; Goodbye !

A Political Overview of Latino America


Cold war; In the 1950s, the Cold War moved close to the United States, in Latin America. The nations of Latin America faced many critical problems, including widespread poverty and poor health care. The United States feared the politics of socialism and communism would be particularly appealing to the countries of Latin America. At the same time, many United States citizens worried about the threat to their own security and businesses in Latin America. This led the United States to take up a very aggressive military strategy of containment. Through the Cold War, the United States removed some democratically elected leaders of Latin American countries through covert C.I.A. operations and replaced them with leaders who were more friendly to the United States. Arguably, this interference with the democratic system in these countries created a blowback because many Latin Americans rejected the United States involvement. Many of the leaders became dictators and oppressors as well.

Late 20th century military regimes; By the 1970s leftists had acquired a significant political influence which prompted the right-wing, ecclesiastical authorities and a large portion of the individual country’s upper class to support coup d’états to avoid what they perceived as a communist threat. This was further fueled by Cuban and United States intervention which led to a political polarization. Most South American countries were in some periods ruled by military dictatorships. By the early 90’s all countries had restored their democracies.

Washington Consensus; The set of specific economic policy prescriptions that were considered the “standard” reform package were promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries by Washington, DC-based institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and the US Treasury Department during the 80’s and 90’s.

During the first decade of the 21st century, South American governments have drifted to the political moderate left, with leaders being elected in Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay and Venezuela. Despite the move to the left, South America for the most part still embraces free market policies, and it is taking an active path toward greater continental integration. Recently, an intergovernmental entity has been formed which aims to merge the two existing customs unions: Mercosur: Southern Common Market: is a Regional Trade Agreement (RTA) among Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay founded in 1991. Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people, and currency. The official languages are Portuguese and Spanish; and The Andean Community: is a trade bloc comprising the South American countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Thus forming the third-largest trade bloc in the world. This new political organization known as Union of South American Nations seeks to establish free movement of people, economic development, a common defense and the elimination of tariffs.

“All the efforts and actions show that Latin American governments working jointly are embracing common goals to reach more consistent and stable political, economical and social systems”.

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    About the Books

    Author Lucila Ortiz offers an easy Spanish reference guide for business's people; travelers and anyone that has the desire to learn the Spanish Language and Culture. Trade is one of the most enduring issues in the contemporary US-Latin America relations. To strengthen the development of this trade relationship, author Lucila Ortiz presents the Spanish Instructive Planner: Spanish for Beguiners, and A Primer for Spanish Language, Culture and Economics; an informative guide that helps English-speaking individuals grasp, manage, understand, and conduct business in Spanish, and for all travelers as well.


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