Spanish America is the part of Latin America which fell under Spanish rule when it came time to divvy up the Western Hemisphere. The border between Spanish and Portuguese possessions in America (i.e. the line between Brazil and the rest of South America) was drawn at Tordesillas in 1494 and sanctioned by none other than Pope Julius II in 1506.

But this first vivisection was only a shadow of the manic slicing-and-dicing that came when the other European powers decided to take a piece of the Latin American paella for their own accounts. England grabbed the Falkland Islands (off Argentina), a part of Honduras now known as Belize, and joined in on snatching the Guyanas with the Netherlands and France--and the political map of the Caribbean is famed for giving headaches to third-grade geography students. Wars, treaties, and sales defined the Spanish America that we know and love today.

Important Historical Events in the Determination of Spanish America's Geography

  • Colombia lost Panama when the U.S. decided to build a canal and foment rebel separatists.
  • Peru and Ecuador fought a border war that ended in 1994.
  • The United States seized huge chunks of northern Mexico in the Mexican-American War.
  • All the countries within this group have Spanish as a primary or sole language, but many have large populations of speakers of Amerindian languages such as Quechua and Maya.

    This region is composed of:

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