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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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Iguazú Falls
Credit: Martin St-Amant

Panorama of the Iguazú Falls, in the Brazilian side. Walkways allow close views of the falls from both Brazil and Argentina. The falls, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, are located on the border of the Brazilian State of Paraná and the Argentine Province of Misiones.

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Surface map of the storm on October 10
The 1910 Cuba hurricane, popularly known as the Cyclone of the Five Days, was a destructive and unusual tropical cyclone which struck Cuba and the United States in October 1910. It formed in the southern Caribbean on October 9 and intensified as it moved northwestward, becoming a hurricane on October 12. After crossing the western tip of Cuba, it peaked on October 16, corresponding to Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. It moved in a counterclockwise loop and hit Cuba again. It then tracked toward Florida, landing near Cape Romano. After moving through the state, it hugged the coast of the Southeastern United States on its way out to sea. Due to its unusual loop, initial reports suggested it was two separate storms that developed and hit land in rapid succession. Its track was subject to much debate at the time; eventually, it was identified as a single storm. Analysis of the event gave a greater understanding of weather systems which took similar paths. The storm is considered one of the worst natural disasters in Cuban history. Damage was extensive and thousands were left homeless. It also had a widespread impact in Florida, including the destruction of houses and flooding. Although total monetary damage from the storm is unknown, estimates of losses in Havana, Cuba exceed $1 million and in the Florida Keys, $250,000. At least 100 deaths occurred in Cuba alone.


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Guna woman selling Molas in Panama City
Credit: Leuo

The mola or molas, forms part of the traditional outfit of a Kuna woman, two mola panels being incorporated as front and back panels in a blouse. The full costume traditionally includes a patterned wrapped skirt (saburet), a red and yellow headscarf (musue), arm and leg beads (wini), a gold nose ring (olasu) and earrings in addition to the mola blouse (dulemor).

In Dulegaya, the Kuna's native language, "mola" means "shirt" or "clothing". The mola originated with the tradition of Kuna women painting their bodies with geometrical designs, using available natural colors; in later years these same designs were woven in cotton, and later still, sewn using cloth bought from the European settlers of Panamá.

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