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The term Latin America refers to the Portuguese and Spanish-speaking states created in the early 1820s following the wars of independence, states that differed enormously in geographical and demographical scale, ethnic composition and economic resources, yet shared distinct historical and cultural traits. Specially-commissioned essays by leading experts explore the unity and diversity of the region's cultural expressions. These essays analyse history and politics from the nineteenth century to the present day and consider the heritage of pre-Columbian and Colonial Latin America. There is a particular focus on narrative as well as on poetry, art and architecture, music, cinema, theatre, and broader issues of popular culture. A final chapter looks at the strong and rapidly expanding influence of latino/a culture in the United States. A chronology and guides to further reading are included, making this volume an invaluable introduction to the rich and varied culture of modern Latin America.