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Portal:Latin America

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Latin America is a group of Western Hemispheric countries and dependencies where Romance languages (derived from Latin), principally Spanish, Portuguese and, to a lesser extent, French, are predominantly spoken. The term is "commonly used to describe South America, [Mexico and] Central America, and islands of the Caribbean." The term is used for those places brought under the Spanish Empire, Portuguese Empire in Brazil, and the French Colonial Empire in the circum-Caribbean region. Some subnational regions known as French America such as Quebec and parts of the United States where Romance languages are primarily spoken are not usually included due to the countries as a whole being a part of Anglo-America, (an exception to this is Puerto Rico, which is almost always included within the definition of Latin America despite being a territory of the United States). 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.

The term "Latin America" was first used in an 1856 conference with the title "Initiative of America. Idea for a Federal Congress of the Republics" (Iniciativa de la América. Idea de un Congreso Federal de las Repúblicas), by the Chilean politician Francisco Bilbao. The term was further popularised by French Emperor Napoleon III's government in the 1860s as Amérique latine to justify France's military involvement in Mexico and try to include French-speaking territories in the Americas such as French Canada, French Louisiana, or French Guiana, in the larger group of countries where Spanish and Portuguese languages prevailed.

Including French-speaking territories, Latin America would consist of 20 countries and 14 dependent territories that cover an area that stretches from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego and includes much of the Caribbean. It has an area of approximately 19,197,000 km2 (7,412,000 sq mi), almost 13% of the Earth's land surface area. As of March 2, 2020, population of Latin America and the Caribbean was estimated at more than 652 million, and in 2019, Latin America had a combined nominal GDP of US$5,188,250 million and a GDP PPP of 10,284,588 million USD. ( Full article...)

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Sésamo (English: Sesame), formerly titled Plaza Sésamo (English: Sesame Plaza) prior to 2016, is one of the first international co-productions of the American children's television program Sesame Street. Its first season premiered in Mexico in 1972, and the last season ended in 2018 during the holiday season and the 50th anniversary of Sesame Street, but the show returned in 2020 and was immediately a ratings hit. It also aired throughout Latin America, to a potential audience of 25 million children in 34 countries. Unlike some of the earliest co-productions, which consisted of dubbed versions of Sesame Street with local language voice-overs, Sésamo was a true co-production. Half of the show was adapted from the American show, and half was original material, created in Mexico by Mexican writers, performers, and producers. The first season consisted of 130 half-hour episodes. The Plaza Sèsamo development process was similar to that of the American show. Its goals were developed by local experts in television, child development, and early education during curriculum seminars in Caracas, Venezuela. Sésamo's goals emphasized problem solving and reasoning, and also included perception, symbolic representation, human diversity, and the child's environment. Other goals included community cooperation, family life, nutrition, health, safety, self-esteem, and expressing emotions. Early reading skills were taught through the whole language method. The show's budget for the first and second seasons was approximately US$1.6 million.

The show's set consisted of a typical neighborhood square (or plaza) found throughout the region. New Muppets and human characters were created. In all, four seasons of Sésamo were filmed. The first season resulted in some of the highest ratings in Mexico. The fourth season, filmed in 1995, was broadcast in the U.S., making it the first foreign-language co-production shown in the U.S. Studies conducted after the first season of Sésamo showed that it had a demonstrable impact on the educational achievement levels of its young audience. Highly significant difference were found in tests about general knowledge, letters, and numbers after children were exposed to the show. Significant gains were made in several cognitive and perceptual areas by regular viewers, even in subjects that were not taught by the show. Characters from the show participated in campaigns promoting health and nutrition; in 2009, the Sesame Workshop, the organization responsible for the American show, was awarded the "Champion of Health" award by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for its efforts. ( Full article...)
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Gloria Trevi, a young woman with short hair, singing into a wireless microphone onstage
Gloria Trevi (pictured) and Alejandra Guzmán were the first women in the Top Latin Albums chart's 24-year history to have a number-one collaborative album in 2017.

Women have made significant contributions to Latin music, a genre which predates Italian explorer Christopher Columbus' arrival in Latin America in 1492 and the Spanish colonization of the Americas. The earliest musicians were Native Americans, hundreds of ethnic groups across the continent, whose lyrics "reflect conflict, beauty, pain, and loss that mark all human experience." Indigenous communities reserved music for women, who were given equal opportunities with men to teach, perform, sing, and dance. Ethnomusicologists have measured ceramic, animal-bone, and cane flutes from the Inca Empire which indicate a preference for women with a high vocal range. Women had equal social status, were trained, and received the same opportunities in music as men in indigenous communities until the arrival of Columbus in the late 15th century. European settlers brought patriarchal, machismo ideologies to the continent, replacing the idea of equality between men and women. They equated native music with "savagery" and European music with "civilization". Female musicians tended to be darker-skinned as a result of the slave trade (which increased the population of African slaves), and contemporary society denigrated music as a profession. Latin music became Africanized, with syncopated rhythms and call-and-response; European settlement introduced harmony and the Spanish décima song form.

Since the pre-recording era of music, Latin music was male-dominated, and there are relatively few examples of female songwriters, music producers, record executives, and promoters. Women lacked access to musical training; music programs were nonexistent, and cultural norms discouraged female participation. Latin music had a primarily male presence; men discriminated against women, limiting them to singing or dancing and discouraging them from becoming instrumentalists, writers, composers, arrangers, and executives. Women artists in the sub-genres of Latin music, such as Selena, Jenni Rivera, Jennifer Lopez, Ivy Queen, Julieta Venegas, and Ely Guerra. have been credited with enhancing the genres' female presence; they have broken through barriers, reshaping Latin music and public perceptions of female sexuality, gender, and femininity. Women in salsa music are significantly underrepresented in the industry as very few women, with the exception of Celia Cruz, have been associated with the emergence of the genre; for example, in the British documentary Salsa: Latin Pop Music in the Cites (1985), Cruz is one of the only female singers who is mentioned. ( Full article...)
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El Castillo, Chichen Itza

El Castillo, found in the Chichen Itza archaeological site, is a Mesoamerican step-pyramid that is one of the most recognized and widely visited pre-Columbian structures in Mexico. Built by the Maya, it served as a temple to Kukulkan, the Yucatec Maya Feathered Serpent deity.


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