Trying to find the best touristic destinations in Latin America could be as hard as trying to define what Latin America means. There has not been agreement of who belongs in the “Latin American” continent.
According to the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language (2000) by Houghton Mifflin Company, Latin America refers to the parts of North America and South America to the south of the United States where Spanish and Portuguese are the official languages.
That would mean all the continental Spanish speaking countries from Mexico to Argentina, including the islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and Portuguese-speaking Brazil; in which case, there would be 21 countries in Latin America.
But other definitions like the Webster's New World College Dictionary (2009), state that Latin America more broadly refers to that part of the Western Hemisphere south of the U.S., in Mexico, Central America, the West Indies and South America, where Spanish, Portuguese and French are the official languages. This would include then the French-speaking Haiti and Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana.
The rest of the countries in the region would be the English-speaking Belize, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Bahamas; and the Dutch-speaking Netherlands Antilles, Aruba and Suriname. These nations are commonly known as the “Caribbean,” but for many are also part of Latin America.
Since there is not a definite answer as to what Latin America means, when it comes to decide on a touristic destination for our Examiner.com readers, it will refer to all the countries and islands that belong to the American continent, with the exception of the United States and Canada.
So, where to start? Each country has a unique blend of cultures, languages and dialects, and depending on its physical location, a wide range of offers for the craving tourists.
Stay tuned to the next issues to learn about beautiful colonial Colombian city Popayán, whose white facades, pebble stone streets and Holy Week celebrations are one of its main attractions, winter travel destination Campos do Jordão, a German paradise a few minutes from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the city of Baños in Ecuador, situated in a valley of waterfalls and hot springs that has become a mecca for international travelers seeking year-round temperate weather.