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There are over 20 sovereign nations that compose Latin America. Over 603 million people live in this sub-region. While many languages are spoken, the predominant languages are the Romantic languages of Spanish, Portuguese and French. However, in this vast melting pot of culture, you may find people speaking any language from English and Dutch to Native American.
Today, the region covers the land from the top of Mexico to the southern tip of Argentina. It also includes the Caribbean. At one time, the Latin American world was even larger extending up into California and including the areas of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.
The term Latin America was coined because of the languages spoken in the region. The people who settled in these areas were from "Latin Europe," and spoke one of the Romance languages. Most of the Latin American countries at one time were a colony of Spain, Portugal or France.
There are ten events that played a major role in the history of Latin America:
1. The Treaty of Tordesillas (1493-1494) in all of Latin America
2. The Conquest of the Aztec and Inca Empire (1519-1533) in Mexico and Peru
3. Independence from Spain and Portugal (1806-1898) in all of Latin America
4. The Mexican-American War (1846-1848) in Mexico
5. The War of the Triple Alliance (1864-1870) in Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina
6. The War of the Pacific (1879-1884) in Chile, Peru and Bolivia
7. The Construction of the Panama Canal (181-1893 and 1904-1914) in Panama
8. The Mexican Revolution (1911-1920) in Mexico
9. The Cuban Revolution (1953-1959) in Cuba
10. Operation Condor (1975-1983) in the countries in the Southern Cone of South America
These events changed the history of the countries involved and the way those countries are today. Each of these events altered life in the region and affected not only the Latin American country where the event took place, but it also had an impact on the rest of the world.