High School > History > Latin American History
Latin America comprises countries where the Spanish and Portuguese languages dominate. This includes Mexico and all of South America, and it includes the Caribbean islands as well.
Latin America shares some similarity with the USA, both being European colonies at one point. Spain took an interest in Latin America, deeming it as a very valuable resource that must be conquered. This proved as a challenge to the Spanish though, with the Aztec and Inca Empires holding the lines. They were the ruling class in Latin America at the time, so the Spanish had to defeat them to claim the territory. Later on, the conquistadores under the command of Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro defeated the Aztecs and the Incans, establishing the rule of Spain in the land.
Eventually, Napoleon invaded Spain, and Latin America saw this as an opportunity to set themselves free. In 1810, most of Latin America declared independence from Spain, and by 1825, Mexico, Central America, and South America were freed. Brazil followed suit shortly after. Finally, in 1898, Spanish rule was put to an end to all parts of the American continents, thanks to their defeat in the Spanish-American War.
This was not the only share of conflict of Latin America. Mexico also went to war with the United States in 1846. Two years later, though, the Americans captured Mexico City. Then there was the war of the Triple Alliance from 1864 to 1870. Here, the allies Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil fought against Paraguay. After the war, Paraguay lay in ruins and would take decades for the country to get back on track.
More conflict broke out in 1879 to 1884 between Chile and Bolivia over disputes with their borders. Peru also came into the picture, being an ally of Bolivia. Chile won and gained the territory, while Peru and Bolivia were left in destruction. It took several years for them to recover.
Despite all of this fighting among themselves, Latin America today is mostly a healthy, quiet continent. The people have learned to live amongst each other, and the nations of Latin America enjoy more peace now than before.