History of Latin America
Let’s start with a very interesting fact: The term Latin America was not coined on the continent itself, but in faraway Europe; France, to be precise.
The reason why we began with that fact is because the history of Latin America is closely tied to that of Europe. Before the settlers from Spain, Portugal, and France arrived, the continent was host to the celebrated cultures of the Mayans, Aztecs, and the Incans. Along with the new settlers, came the new languages: Spanish and Portuguese, which continue to remain commonly spoken even today.
The Colonial Era
This was a period of massive migration to the continent. It would not be an exaggeration to say that most of Europe found its way to the ‘New World’, along with Chinese and Japanese immigrants that made up the Asian influence.
In many ways, this era could be said to be the foundation stone of the present South America. The term, Latin, was given because of the affinity of the continent, both cultural and racial, to the Romance languages and culture.
It was, however, in the post-colonial period that the true identity of the land and its people was forged.
Revolutions in ihe Post Colonial Era
Once the continent won its freedom from the colonists, revolutions and conflicts swept Latin America. Battles and turf wars were fought to gain territory and to establish an independent identity. Brazil, then, remained the only country to avoid any conflict by remaining united and loyal to the monarchy.
Out of the furnace of the territory wars, where one neighbour fought another, emerged a somewhat patched identity of the continent where you had democratic and authoritarian regimes.
The Communists and the current Left
Communism became the common flavour of the continent and its people as swathes of South America witnessed communist and socialist insurgencies in the twentieth century. The most successful and (in)famous of which occurred in Cuba, with Fidel Castro leading the way.
These insurgencies laid the groundwork for the Pink Tide Revolution that swept across Latin America in the new millennium. Today, left-wing political parties govern most of the countries in the region.