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Portal:Latin America

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Latin America was a name coined by "Emperor of Mexico" Maximilian I in an effort to gain legitimacy, since his patron, Napoleon III, spoke French, a Latinate tongue like Spanish and Portuguese. Maximilian did not last, but the coinage of "Latin America" is one of the most successful of all time. Latin America is traditionally defined as the regions of the Americas where Spanish, the language of Spain, and Portuguese, the language of Portugal, were spoken -- in other words, every part of the Western Hemisphere, with the exception of Suriname and a few small islands that speak Dutch, that was not Anglo America. (English is a Germanic language.) Therefore, virtually all of the Western Hemisphere except the United States, Canada, and the non-Hispanophone countries of the Caribbean and South America have tended to come under the heading of Latin America. Other areas where languages derived from Latin, such as Papiamento and Creole, predominate are sometimes included and sometimes excluded from Latin America, depending on the speaker.

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The Ruins of Sacsayhuamán
Credit: Martin St-Amant

Panorama of The Ruins of Sacsayhuamán, a main sight in the City of Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire and Peru. It is a major tourist destination and receives almost 1.5 million visitors a year.

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The gun trials of the Brazilian dreadnought Minas Geraes
A South American dreadnought race between Argentina, Brazil, and Chile was kindled in 1907 when the Brazilian government announced their intention to purchase three dreadnoughts—powerful battleships whose capabilities far outstripped older vessels in the world's navies—from the British company Armstrong Whitworth. Two ships of the Minas Geraes class were laid down immediately with a third to follow. The Argentine and Chilean governments immediately canceled a naval-limiting pact between them, and both ordered two dreadnoughts (the Rivadavia and Almirante Latorre classes, respectively). Meanwhile, Brazil's third dreadnought was canceled in favor of an even larger ship, but the ship was laid down and ripped up several times after repeated major alterations to the design. When the Brazilian government finally settled on a design, they realized it would be outclassed by the Chilean dreadnoughts' larger armament, so they sold the partly-completed ship to the Ottoman Empire and attempted to acquire a more powerful vessel. By this time the First World War had broken out in Europe, and many shipbuilders suspended work on dreadnoughts for foreign countries, which halted the Brazilian plans. Argentina's two dreadnoughts were delivered, as the United States remained neutral in the opening years of the war, but Chile's two dreadnoughts were purchased by the United Kingdom. In the years between the First and Second World War, many naval expansion plans, some involving dreadnought purchases, were proposed. While most never came to fruition, in April 1920 the Chilean government reacquired one of the dreadnoughts taken over by the United Kingdom. No other dreadnoughts were purchased by a South American nation, and all were sold for scrap in the 1950s.


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Huayna Picchu towers above the ruins of Machu Picchu
Credit: Martin St-Amant

Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel situated on a mountain ridge 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. It is located in the Cusco Region, Urubamba Province, Machupicchu District in Peru, above the Sacred Valley, which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows.

Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often mistakenly referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas" (a title more accurately applied to Vilcabamba), it is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization. The Incas built the estate around 1450 but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was not known to the Spanish during the colonial period and remained unknown to the outside world until American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to international attention in 1911.

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