Don’t Know What’s Going On In Venezuela? Get On Track With A Look At 15 Imperative Latin American Economies
For the past few weeks, the world has watched as tens of thousands of protesters have led demonstrations across the country of Venezuela in an effort to end the second term of President Nicolás Maduro and the downtrodden economy his administration has created. For many uncertain of going on in the country, there’s even more confusion about the ones outside of it, in Latin America. For a better understanding of what is going on here’s a breakdown of some of Latin America’s most desperate and corrupted economies.
1. Colombia produces most of the world’s emeralds.
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And when we say most, we mean more than 90% of the world’s emeralds. Talking about segues, who wants to go to Colombia for some emerald shopping?
2. Brazil is the world’s biggest exporter of coffee, sugar, and orange juice.
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So chances are your breakfast is probably entirely Brazilian. And maybe your morning tea.
3. Peru hosts 80% of the world’s population of alpacas.
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That’s about 3.5 million alpacas which are bred for their lovely, luscious wool. But, there are more serious questions that need answering: where are Peruvians getting all of the food to feed these alpacas? Where the hell are they keeping all of them? And how are they coping with literally millions of alpacas relieving themselves multiple times a day?
4. Chile is the 5th largest exporter of wine in the world.
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There are over 100 wineries in Chile. Bottoms up!
5. Peru grows more than 55 varieties of corn.
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And you can find corn there in pretty much any color, including yellow, purple, white and black. That’s got to make some pretty stellar popcorn, right?
6. The Latin American region’s annual economic growth sits at around 2.9%.
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This means it’s on par with Australasia and growing at a faster rather than North America’s 1.8%. Western Europe can’t hold a candle to Latin America either: their annual economic growth rate is 1.3%.
7. About 80% of Mexican exports go to the United States.
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Which is impressive, and geographically convenient. But it does mean that any upsets in the US economy tend to have a pretty severe effect on Mexico’s economy. Next time you’re at a fiesta, impress your fellow partygoers with musings about the Mexican economy’s vulnerability to US trade tariffs.
8. Some of the biggest industries in Latin America are agriculture, and trade and tourism.
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What kinds of things fall under these categories, you ask? Agriculture means farming. Trade relates to the export industry or sending goods overseas to make a profit. And what about tourism? Well, Latin America has plenty of draws to keep people visiting. Think about it: great people, delectable food, breathtaking natural wonders, and jaw-dropping historical sites.
9. The GDP potential in Latin America is the second highest in the world.
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The region comes second only to India. This isn’t necessarily something to be proud of, though. It means that Latin America could be more productive. But there are a few challenges it needs to overcome before it can do that. One of the big issues Latin America needs to tackle is gender parity. If women were employed in the same way as men in countries like the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Mexico, the region’s GDP would rise by an insane 34%!
10. Argentina and Venezuela have the two weakest exchange rates of all the Latin American countries.
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And look, that sucks for them because it makes everything more expensive for locals. But you know what? It also means that everything in Argentina and Venezuela is that much cheaper for everyone traveling to those countries. Holiday, anyone?
11. Nearly a quarter of the global transport fleet flies under Panama’s flag.
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This is despite the fact that Panama is home to only 0.05% of the global population. So what’s the deal? Well, businesses like to register their cargo ships in Panama so that their fleets are subject to local laws. Yep: Panama’s a great spot for business since their tax, safety and maritime laws are relatively lenient.
12. Ecuador is the biggest banana exporter in the world.
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Doesn’t that fact just make you go … bananas? Okay, enough of the puns. Clearly, there’s more to Ecuador’s economy than just bananas since it’s currently experiencing the largest economic growth in Latin America, at 6.88% per annum.
13. About three million El Salvadorans live in the US and send money home to El Salvador.
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There are a few reasons for this. One reason is convenience: rather than using its own currency, El Salvador is one of many countries that instead trades in US dollars.
14. Cuba only started allowing its population to buy personal cell phones in 2011.
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Things like private real estate ownership also became available in Cuba that same year. These policy changes were part of what has been a significant overhaul for Cuba’s socialist economy.
15. Over 75% of Nicaragua’s population lives on less than $2 a day.
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This is despite the fact that its nominal per capita GDP, or average income, works out to be $1,756. So what does this mean? It means that there is a massive disparity between the income of the most wealthy in Nicaragua, and the rest of the population.
16. Costa Rica has the sixth highest level of foreign direct investment (FDI) per capita in Latin America.
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In layman’s terms, Costa Rica depends on money from foreign companies or groups to sustain its economy. These foreign investors pour money into initiatives in Costa Rica, expecting to receive a profit once things get off the ground. Part of the reason why high FDI figures are so impressive is that in order to attract investors, you have to convince people that your country is a safe bet, that the projects won’t fall through, and that the investors will definitely turn a profit. Having a high FDI can be good for a country’s fiscal reputation. In Costa Rica’s case, it also helps that they’ve negotiated plenty of flexible trade agreements to encourage investments, too.
17. Mexico has the largest proven silver reserves in the world.
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Guess it’s time to go jewelry shopping in Mexico, right?
18. Brazil is the only Latin American country that’s part of the BRICS union.
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BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. These countries operate in economic partnership with each other, on the basis that their economies are some of the fastest growing in the world. So much so, that they could compete with the US in the near future.
19. Argentina has the third-largest economy in Latin America.
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Brazil and Mexico come in at number one, and number two, respectively.
20. There’s good and bad news about poverty in The Dominican Republic.
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The bad news is that The Dominican Republic’s poverty rate is at around 28.9 percent. This means that there are still plenty of Dominicans living in poverty. The good news is that this poverty rate is on the decline.
So which economic fact will you be whipping out in a casual conversation? And were there any that surprised you? Let us know on Facebook through the icon at the top of the page!
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