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Latin America in the Spotlight: The Land of Romance Languages and Cultural Diversity

Last updated on May 17th, 2021 at 06:08 pm

Let’s Debunk the Spanish Myth Once and for All!

Without a doubt, media has a profound influence on how this part of the world is perceived.

Popular singers who’ve crossed over from Latin America, including Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, tend to give a skewed impression that the region consists of only Spanish speakers and cultures.

Not true!

To debunk this myth and define Latin America, the perfect place to start is by spotlighting the make-up of this region.

Latin America consists of the entire continent of South America, Central America, Mexico, and parts of the Caribbean. It’s a collection of countries in which Romance languages are spoken as a primary language.

Romance languages are a group of related languages including French, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish. Grammar and pronunciation are derived from what’s known as “Vulgar Latin” — common speech of the ancient Romans; the ancestor of the Romance languages.

Colorful Cultural Differences Make Latin America Distinctive

Latin American diversity is shaped by the hands of its history, dating back to the early 1500s. The colonization effort by the Spaniards and Portuguese spanned three centuries!

Currently, over 580,000,000 people live in Latin America so it’s NO WONDER …

The number of distinguishing cultures and different languages spoken are extremely diverse, like the vibrant array of flag colors you see.

Latin American music comes in many varieties, too — from the simple, rural conjunto music of northern Mexico to the sophisticated habanera of Cuba, from the symphonies of Heitor Villa-Lobos, to the simple and moving Andean flute.

Let’s Examine a Breakdown of Latin American Languages

  • Portuguese is spoken throughout South America, and is the primary language of Brazil.
  • Spanish is most widely spoken in Latin America, and one of the official languages in all South American countries except Brazil.
  • French is an official language in French Guyana, Haiti, and several areas of the Caribbean.
  • Mayan is spoken as a native language by about 8 million people in Southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and parts of Honduras.
  • Quechua is a native language of South America, spoken in the Andean region, and is one of the official languages of Peru and Bolivia.
  • Aymara is another official language spoken in Peru and Bolivia.

And here’s a chart that displays a summary of the language distribution among the population of Latin America:

You will see that while Spanish is the official spoken language among over 60% of the Latin population, there are several other languages spoken, officially.

Latin America’s Linguistic Diversity Reflects Its Ethnic Diversity

If you were to spend some time in the area traveling from one locale to another, you’d experience the uniqueness and flavors of different cultures. That cultural diversity needs to be addressed when you are trying to communicate effectively with the people of Latin America.

Professional localization services and translation services are particularly crucial to facilitating successful conduct of business engagements in this region.

Stay tuned for our next entry, in which we discuss the numerous business opportunities present in Latin America.

Flora Yu
Flora Yu
Flora was born and raised in New York to parents from Hong Kong and Taiwan. She has a degree in Accounting. She is fluent in Mandarin, and contributes a unique perspective as someone who was raised in 2 different cultures. She finds humor and opportunities to learn as she constantly searches for the balance between the East and West.