We’ve called this website “Latin America Goes Global,” but just how global is Latin America, really? Here, we back it up with some numbers on how the region and its individual countries have become players on the global stage, politically, economically and culturally.
- Latin America has about 630 million people, which is only 8.6 percent of a total global population of 7.3 billion people. (source) However, it plays a much larger role on the international stage: In the United Nations General Assembly, Latin America has 33 votes out of 193 (17 percent), 8 seats out of 47 on the United Nations Human Rights Council (also 17 percent) and 2 seats out of the 10 non-permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council (13 percent of the total 15 votes, or 20 percent of the non-permanent members). While no Latin American country has a permanent veto-wielding seat on the Security Council (though Brazil is trying), the UN’s one-vote-per-country gives Latin America an outsized presence in a number of the UN bodies relative to the region’s population.
- In 2014, Latin America was the destination for $557 billion of U.S. exports. Out of a total of U.S. goods and services sold abroad of $2.343 trillion, that’s 24 percent of global U.S. exports. (source)
- Brazil is the 9th largest export market for China, following only the U.S. and Germany in non-Asia Pacific markets. (source)
- Brazil is the 10th largest, and Mexico the 15th largest, external partners for merchandise trade for the EU. (source) Overall, Latin America accounts for 6 percent of EU’s total external trade, a total of almost 203 billion euros. (source)
- The United States has only 20 free trade agreements globally; 11 of those are with Latin American countries. (source) Latin American countries themselves have a wide range of free trade agreements, with Chile the most globally engaged trader with 56 agreements. (source)
- Of global FDI (foreign direct investment) flows in 2014, Brazil received the 5th largest amount, $62 billion, following only China, Hong Kong, the U.S. and Singapore. Latin America and the Caribbean overall received $153 billion, a number that decreased 19 percent from 2013. Despite the drop, Latin America and the Caribbean remain the 3rd highest recipient of FDI in the world after developing Asia and Europe—higher than North America in 2014. (source)
- One area where Latin America and the Caribbean have room to grow is in agricultural: despite having 24 percent of the world’s arable land, the region produces only 11 percent of the world’s food production. (source)
- There are 21 countries where Spanish is an official language and 9 countries where Portuguese is an official language. There are roughly 470 million people are native speakers of Spanish, and a total of 559 million people speak some level of Spanish. All told that translates into 6.7 percent of the global population speak Spanish or Portuguese. And globally Spanish is the 3rd most studied language, after English and French. (source)
- In the U.S. alone, there are 41 million native Spanish speakers and 11.6 million bilingual speakers: 18.2 percent of the population, or almost 1 in 5 people, can speak Spanish in the United States. The U.S. has the second largest population of Spanish speakers in the world, larger than Spain, and smaller only than Mexico, making the U.S. the third largest Latin American country in the Western Hemisphere, behind Brazil and Mexico. (Just don’t tell Donald Trump.) (source)
- Latin American citizens enjoy relatively easy travel globally (with the exception traveling to the United States). Argentine citizens have visa-free travel to 147 different countries, Brazilian citizens to 146 countries, Chilean to 141, Mexican and Uruguayan to 132 countries. Of course, not all countries in the region are equally free to travel: Haitians can only travel to 46 countries without visas and Cubans to 61. (source)
Latin America may not make it into the international headlines very often, but as the facts show, our hemisphere is a global player in the economic, geopolitical and cultural arenas. What happens in Latin America matters not just in the U.S. but also in the rest of the world.