Typical Characteristics of Latin America

Latin America Region Map

The Country Similarity Index groups the countries of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, Mexico, and Dominican Republic into the Latin America Region. The territories of Puerto Rico and French Guiana are also part of this region. It is one of the 27 world sub-regions identified by the Index. Here are some of the traits most of these countries share:

Countries in this region are all located in North or South America. The vast majority of them have a tropical climate or at least some subtropical areas. The plants in most countries are from the Neotropical Kingdom. Although there are some deserts within the region, most of the land is vegetated with forests and agricultural lands. Due to the Andes Mountains and the mountain ranges in Central America, most of the countries in the region are fairly mountainous.

photo by Enrique Hoyos

The ancestry of people in Latin America is quite diverse. Most people have mixed European and Native American heritage, to varying degrees. There is also a significant portion of the population with African ancestry. Its people are not especially wealthy or poor. The majority work in service sector. The average height in the region is close to the world average, while the average weight is slightly higher than most regions.

photo by Percy Rodriguez

Most countries in Latin America have Spanish as their official language, although Brazilians speak Portuguese and Haitians speak French Creole. Still these are similar languages to Spanish. The majority of people in Latin America are Catholic. Circumcision is rarely practiced on males in the region. As to the typical personality of people in the region, according to the Lewis Model, they tend to be very extroverted. Chicken and beef are two of the most consumed meats in Latin America. Eggs are another popular ingredient in their cuisine. A large amount of fruits are consumed by people in Latin America as well. Staple grains in the region are diverse. Corn, rice, potatoes, and wheat are some of the most consumed. Latin American countries are especially good a soccer. 16 out of 20 countries in the region have been to the FIFA World Cup despite fierce competition.

photo by Rafael Rabello de Barros

With the exception of Cuba and Venezuela, most countries in this region are multi-party democracies. The vast majority have governments where the president is elected by popular vote. Despite this, there is little rule of law in Latin America. The legal systems of all the countries in this region use Civil Law. Almost all countries have banned the death penalty and most have outlawed life in prison as well. Polygamy is criminalized. Latin American countries also tend to have liberal policies on prostitution. Most allow at least unorganized prostitution. Restrictions on guns in the region are fairly loose compared to most other countries. Tuition free college is also common in Latin America. The majority of countries have birthright citizenship. Most countries in the region are part of the Rio Pact and pledge to defend each other if attacked.

photo by Phil Whitehouse

The infrastructure in Latin America is not the most developed, but is not poor either. Most people have access to drinking water and electricity. The quality of medical care in the region is just mediocre. Internet speeds are relatively slow there as well. All countries in the region drive on the right side of the road. Most countries do not have an extensive network of railroads and railroad gauge varies per country. Fossil fuels and hydropower are two major sources of energy.

photo by Ben Bowes

Latin America’s Most Representative Country: Colombia (76.2 regional average)

Most Similar Region to Latin America: The Caribbean (2-A)

(Statistics as of 2020)

photo by Cahuana Ordono Eddy

List of countries by region


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