Political & Economic Development of Latin America

This paper will discuss the political and economic development of Latin America in the 20th Century. Since 1900, the economic situation in Latin America has evolved from exportdriven economies, through import-substituting industrialization to the beginnings of a true world market-driven economy. All of these economic changes have been precipitated by economic crises throughout the 20th Century, as the countries of Latin America have experienced few extended periods of economic success. The political situation in Latin America has been affected by political ideas and traditions which date back to the conquest and settlement of Latin America by the Spanish and Portuguese, by the influence of the United States, and by the rise and fall of economic fortunes. In fact, the recent trend towards civilian democracies in the region seems partly to be the result of the economic crisis of the 1980s. However, this is not the first time that many Latin American countries have tried democratic methods.

Latin American countries first began to enter the world market as independent participants during the 19th Century, when they began to export commodities which were increasingly sought by the United States and western European countries. Such commodities were agricultural food products (such as coffee, beef, and sugar-cane) and raw materials required for manufacturing (such as copper, tin, and oil). The size of these exports permanently established Latin America in the international



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