A Cause And Effect Essay Is Best Defined As Latin

For other uses, see Causality (disambiguation).

Not to be confused with Casualty.

"Cause" and "Cause and effect" redirect here. For other uses, see Cause (disambiguation) and Cause and effect (disambiguation).

Causality (also referred to as causation,[1] or cause and effect) is the natural or worldly agency or efficacy that connects one process (the cause) with another process or state (the effect),[citation needed] where the first is partly responsible for the second, and the second is partly dependent on the first. In general, a process has many causes,[2] which are said to be causal factors for it, and all lie in its past. An effect can in turn be a cause of, or causal factor for, many other effects, which all lie in its future. Causality is metaphysically prior to notions of time and space.[3][4]

Causality is an abstraction that indicates how the world progresses, so basic a concept that it is more apt as an explanation of other concepts of progression than as something to be explained by others more basic. The concept is like those of agency and efficacy. For this reason, a leap of intuition may be needed to grasp it.[5] Accordingly, causality is implicit in the logic and structure of ordinary language.[6]

Aristotelian philosophy uses the word "cause" to mean "explanation" or "answer to a why question", including Aristotle's material, formal, efficient, and final "causes"; then the "cause" is the explanans for the explanandum. In this case, failure to recognize that different kinds of "cause" are being considered can lead to futile debate. Of Aristotle's four explanatory modes, the one nearest to the concerns of the present article is the "efficient" one.

The topic of causality remains a staple in contemporary philosophy.



The nature of cause and effect is a concern of the subject known as metaphysics.


A general metaphysical question about cause and effect is what kind of entity can be a cause, and what kind of entity can be an effect.

One viewpoint on this question is that cause and effect are of one and the same kind of entity, with causality an asymmetric relation between them. That is to say, it would make good sense grammatically to say either "A is the cause and B the effect" or "B is the cause and A the effect", though only one of those two can be actually true. In this view, one opinion, proposed as a metaphysical principle in process philosophy, is that every cause and every effect is respectively some process, event, becoming, or happening.[7] An example is 'his tripping over the step was the cause, and his breaking his ankle the effect'. Another view is that causes and effects are 'states of affairs', with the exact natures of those entities being less restrictively defined than in process philosophy.[8]

Another viewpoint on the question is the more classical one, that a cause and its effect can be of different kinds of entity. For example, in Aristotle's efficient causal explanation, an action can be a cause while an enduring object is its effect. For example, the generative actions of his parents can be regarded as the efficient cause, with Socrates being the effect, Socrates being regarded as an enduring object, in philosophical tradition called a 'substance', as distinct from an action.


Since causality is a subtle metaphysical notion, considerable effort is needed to establish knowledge of it in particular empirical circumstances.

Geometrical significance[edit]

Causality has the properties of antecedence and contiguity.[9][10] These are topological, and are ingredients for space-time geometry. As developed by Alfred Robb, these properties allow the derivation of the notions of time and space.[11]Max Jammer writes "the Einstein postulate ... opens the way to a straightforward construction of the causal topology ... of Minkowski space."[12] Causal efficacy propagates no faster than light.[13]

Thus, the notion of causality is metaphysically prior to the notions of time and space. In practical terms, this is because use of the relation of causality is necessary for the interpretation of empirical experiments. Interpretation of experiments is needed to establish the physical and geometrical notions of time and space.

Necessary and sufficient causes[edit]

A similar concept occurs in logic, for this see Necessary and sufficient conditions

Causes may sometimes be distinguished into two types: necessary and sufficient.[14] A third type of causation, which requires neither necessity nor sufficiency in and of itself, but which contributes to the effect, is called a "contributory cause."

Necessary causes
If x is a necessary cause of y, then the presence of y necessarily implies the prior occurrence of x. The presence of x, however, does not imply that y will occur.[15]
Sufficient causes
If x is a sufficient cause of y, then the presence of x necessarily implies the subsequent occurrence of y. However, another cause z may alternatively cause y. Thus the presence of y does not imply the prior occurrence of x.[15]
Contributory causes
For some specific effect, in a singular case, a factor that is a contributory cause is one amongst several co-occurrent causes. It is implicit that all of them are contributory. For the specific effect, in general, there is no implication that a contributory cause is necessary, though it may be so. In general, a factor that is a contributory cause is not sufficient, because it is by definition accompanied by other causes, which would not count as causes if it were sufficient. For the specific effect, a factor that is on some occasions a contributory cause might on some other occasions be sufficient, but on those other occasions it would not be merely contributory.[16]

J. L. Mackie argues that usual talk of "cause" in fact refers to INUS conditions (insufficient but non-redundant parts of a condition which is itself unnecessary but sufficient for the occurrence of the effect).[17] An example is a short circuit as a cause for a house burning down. Consider the collection of events: the short circuit, the proximity of flammable material, and the absence of firefighters. Together these are unnecessary but sufficient to the house's burning down (since many other collections of events certainly could have led to the house burning down, for example shooting the house with a flamethrower in the presence of oxygen and so forth). Within this collection, the short circuit is an insufficient (since the short circuit by itself would not have caused the fire) but non-redundant (because the fire would not have happened without it, everything else being equal) part of a condition which is itself unnecessary but sufficient for the occurrence of the effect. So, the short circuit is an INUS condition for the occurrence of the house burning down.

Contrasted with conditionals[edit]

Conditional statements are not statements of causality. An important distinction is that statements of causality require the antecedent to precede or coincide with the consequent in time, whereas conditional statements do not require this temporal order. Confusion commonly arises since many different statements in English may be presented using "If ..., then ..." form (and, arguably, because this form is far more commonly used to make a statement of causality). The two types of statements are distinct, however.

For example, all of the following statements are true when interpreting "If ..., then ..." as the material conditional:

  1. If Barack Obama is president of the United States in 2011, then Germany is in Europe.
  2. If George Washington is president of the United States in 2011, then <arbitrary statement>.

The first is true since both the antecedent and the consequent are true. The second is true in sentential logic and indeterminate in natural language, regardless of the consequent statement that follows, because the antecedent is false.

The ordinary indicative conditional has somewhat more structure than the material conditional. For instance, although the first is the closest, neither of the preceding two statements seems true as an ordinary indicative reading. But the sentence:

  • If Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon did not write Macbeth, then someone else did.

intuitively seems to be true, even though there is no straightforward causal relation in this hypothetical situation between Shakespeare's not writing Macbeth and someone else's actually writing it.

Another sort of conditional, the counterfactual conditional, has a stronger connection with causality, yet even counterfactual statements are not all examples of causality. Consider the following two statements:

  1. If A were a triangle, then A would have three sides.
  2. If switch S were thrown, then bulb B would light.

In the first case, it would not be correct to say that A's being a triangle caused it to have three sides, since the relationship between triangularity and three-sidedness is that of definition. The property of having three sides actually determines A's state as a triangle. Nonetheless, even when interpreted counterfactually, the first statement is true. An early version of Aristotle's "four cause" theory is described as recognizing "essential cause". In this version of the theory, that the closed polygon has three sides is said to be the "essential cause" of its being a triangle.[18] This use of the word 'cause' is of course now far obsolete. Nevertheless, it is within the scope of ordinary language to say that it is essential to a triangle that it has three sides.

A full grasp of the concept of conditionals is important to understanding the literature on causality. In everyday language, loose conditional statements are often enough made, and need to be interpreted carefully.

Questionable cause[edit]

Main article: Questionable cause

Fallacies of questionable cause, also known as causal fallacies, non-causa pro causa (Latin for "non-cause for cause"), or false cause, are informal fallacies where a cause is incorrectly identified.


Main article: Causal model

Counterfactual theories[edit]

Main article: Counterfactual conditional

Subjunctive conditionals are familiar from ordinary language. They are of the form, if A were the case, then B would be the case, or if A had been the case, then B would have been the case. Counterfactual conditionals are specifically subjunctive conditionals whose antecedents are in fact false, hence the name. However the term used technically may apply to conditionals with true antecedents as well.

Psychological research shows that people's thoughts about the causal relationships between events influences their judgments of the plausibility of counterfactual alternatives, and conversely, their counterfactual thinking about how a situation could have turned out differently changes their judgments of the causal role of events and agents. Nonetheless, their identification of the cause of an event, and their counterfactual thought about how the event could have turned out differently do not always coincide.[19] People distinguish between various sorts of causes, e.g., strong and weak causes.[20] Research in the psychology of reasoning shows that people make different sorts of inferences from different sorts of causes, as found in the fields of cognitive linguistics[21] and accident analysis[22][23] for example.

In the philosophical literature, the suggestion that causation is to be defined in terms of a counterfactual relation is made by the 18th Century Scottish philosopher David Hume. Hume remarks that we may define the relation of cause and effect such that "where, if the first object had not been, the second never had existed."[24]

More full-fledged analysis of causation in terms of counterfactual conditionals only came in the 20th Century after development of the possible world semantics for the evaluation of counterfactual conditionals. In his 1973 paper "Causation," David Lewis proposed the following definition of the notion of causal dependence:[25]

An event E causally depends on C if, and only if, (i) if C had occurred, then E would have occurred, and (ii) if C had not occurred, then E would not have occurred.

Causation is then defined as a chain of causal dependence. That is, C causes E if and only if there exists a sequence of events C, D1, D2, ... Dk, E such that each event in the sequence depends on the previous.

Note that the analysis does not purport to explain how we make causal judgements or how we reason about causation, but rather to give a metaphysical account of what it is for there to be a causal relation between some pair of events. If correct, the analysis has the power to explain certain features of causation. Knowing that causation is a matter of counterfactual dependence, we may reflect on the nature of counterfactual dependence to account for the nature of causation. For example, in his paper "Counterfactual Dependence and Time's Arrow," Lewis sought to account for the time-directedness of counterfactual dependence in terms of the semantics of the counterfactual conditional.[26] If correct, this theory can serve to explain a fundamental part of our experience, which is that we can only causally affect the future but not the past.

Probabilistic causation[edit]

Main article: Probabilistic causation

Interpreting causation as a deterministic relation means that if A causes B, then A must always be followed by B. In this sense, war does not cause deaths, nor does smoking cause cancer or emphysema. As a result, many turn to a notion of probabilistic causation. Informally, A ("The person is a smoker") probabilistically causes B ("The person has now or will have cancer at some time in the future"), if the information that A occurred increases the likelihood of Bs occurrence. Formally, P{B|A}≥ P{B} where P{B|A} is the conditional probability that B will occur given the information that A occurred, and P{B}is the probability that B will occur having no knowledge whether A did or did not occur. This intuitive condition is not adequate as a definition for probabilistic causation because of its being too general and thus not meeting our intuitive notion of cause and effect. For example, if A denotes the event "The person is a smoker," B denotes the event "The person now has or will have cancer at some time in the future" and C denotes the event "The person now has or will have emphysema some time in the future," then the following three relationships hold: P{B|A} ≥ P{B}, P{C|A} ≥ P{C} and P{B|C} ≥ P{B}. The last relationship states that knowing that the person has emphysema increases the likelihood that he will have cancer. The reason for this is that having the information that the person has emphysema increases the likelihood that the person is a smoker, thus indirectly increasing the likelihood that the person will have cancer. However, we would not want to conclude that having emphysema causes cancer. Thus, we need additional conditions such as temporal relationship of A to B and a rational explanation as to the mechanism of action. It is hard to quantify this last requirement and thus different authors prefer somewhat different definitions.[citation needed]

Causal calculus[edit]

When experimental interventions are infeasible or illegal, the derivation of cause effect relationship from observational studies must rest on some qualitative theoretical assumptions, for example, that symptoms do not cause diseases, usually expressed in the form of missing arrows in causal graphs such as Bayesian networks or path diagrams. The theory underlying these derivations relies on the distinction between conditional probabilities, as in , and interventional probabilities, as in . The former reads: "the probability of finding cancer in a person known to smoke, having started, unforced by the experimenter, to do so at an unspecified time in the past", while the latter reads: "the probability of finding cancer in a person forced by the experimenter to smoke at a specified time in the past". The former is a statistical notion that can be estimated by observation with negligible intervention by the experimenter, while the latter is a causal notion which is estimated in an experiment with an important controlled randomized intervention. It is specifically characteristic of quantal phenomena that observations defined by incompatible variables always involve important intervention by the experimenter, as described quantitatively by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.[vague] In classical thermodynamics, processes are initiated by interventions called thermodynamic operations. In other branches of science, for example astronomy, the experimenter can often observe with negligible intervention.

The theory of "causal calculus"[27] permits one to infer interventional probabilities from conditional probabilities in causal Bayesian networks with unmeasured variables. One very practical result of this theory is the characterization of confounding variables, namely, a sufficient set of variables that, if adjusted for, would yield the correct causal effect between variables of interest. It can be shown that a sufficient set for estimating the causal effect of on is any set of non-descendants of that -separate from after removing all arrows emanating from . This criterion, called "backdoor", provides a mathematical definition of "confounding" and helps researchers identify accessible sets of variables worthy of measurement.

Structure learning[edit]

While derivations in causal calculus rely on the structure of the causal graph, parts of the causal structure can, under certain assumptions, be learned from statistical data. The basic idea goes back to Sewall Wright's 1921 work[28] on path analysis. A "recovery" algorithm was developed by Rebane and Pearl (1987)[29] which rests on Wright's distinction between the three possible types of causal substructures allowed in a directed acyclic graph (DAG):

Type 1 and type 2 represent the same statistical dependencies (i.e., and are independent given ) and are, therefore, indistinguishable within purely cross-sectional data. Type 3, however, can be uniquely identified, since and are marginally independent and all other pairs are dependent. Thus, while the skeletons (the graphs stripped of arrows) of these three triplets are identical, the directionality of the arrows is partially identifiable. The same distinction applies when and have common ancestors, except that one must first condition on those ancestors. Algorithms have been developed to systematically determine the skeleton of the underlying graph and, then, orient all arrows whose directionality is dictated by the conditional independencies observed.[27][30][31][32]

Alternative methods of structure learning search through the many possible causal structures among the variables, and remove ones which are strongly incompatible with the observed correlations. In general this leaves a set of possible causal relations, which should then be tested by analyzing time series data or, preferably, designing appropriately controlled experiments. In contrast with Bayesian Networks, path analysis (and its generalization, structural equation modeling), serve better to estimate a known causal effect or to test a causal model than to generate causal hypotheses.

For nonexperimental data, causal direction can often be inferred if information about time is available. This is because (according to many, though not all, theories) causes must precede their effects temporally. This can be determined by statistical time series models, for instance, or with a statistical test based on the idea of Granger causality, or by direct experimental manipulation. The use of temporal data can permit statistical tests of a pre-existing theory of causal direction. For instance, our degree of confidence in the direction and nature of causality is much greater when supported by cross-correlations, ARIMA models, or cross-spectral analysis using vector time series data than by cross-sectional data.

Derivation theories[edit]

Nobel Prize laureate Herbert A. Simon and philosopher Nicholas Rescher[33] claim that the asymmetry of the causal relation is unrelated to the asymmetry of any mode of implication that contraposes. Rather, a causal relation is not a relation between values of variables, but a function of one variable (the cause) on to another (the effect). So, given a system of equations, and a set of variables appearing in these equations, we can introduce an asymmetric relation among individual equations and variables that corresponds perfectly to our commonsense notion of a causal ordering. The system of equations must have certain properties, most importantly, if some values are chosen arbitrarily, the remaining values will be determined uniquely through a path of serial discovery that is perfectly causal. They postulate the inherent serialization of such a system of equations may correctly capture causation in all empirical fields, including physics and economics.

Manipulation theories[edit]

Some theorists have equated causality with manipulability.[34][35][36][37] Under these theories, x causes y only in the case that one can change x in order to change y. This coincides with commonsense notions of causations, since often we ask causal questions in order to change some feature of the world. For instance, we are interested in knowing the causes of crime so that we might find ways of reducing it.

These theories have been criticized on two primary grounds. First, theorists complain that these accounts are circular. Attempting to reduce causal claims to manipulation requires that manipulation is more basic than causal interaction. But describing manipulations in non-causal terms has provided a substantial difficulty.

The second criticism centers around concerns of anthropocentrism. It seems to many people that causality is some existing relationship in the world that we can harness for our desires. If causality is identified with our manipulation, then this intuition is lost. In this sense, it makes humans overly central to interactions in the world.

Some attempts to defend manipulability theories are recent accounts that don't claim to reduce causality to manipulation. These accounts use manipulation as a sign or feature in causation without claiming that manipulation is more fundamental than causation.[27][38]

Process theories[edit]

Some theorists are interested in distinguishing between causal processes and non-causal processes (Russell 1948; Salmon 1984).[39][40] These theorists often want to distinguish between a process and a pseudo-process. As an example, a ball moving through the air (a process) is contrasted with the motion of a shadow (a pseudo-process). The former is causal in nature while the latter is not.

Salmon (1984)[39] claims that causal processes can be identified by their ability to transmit an alteration over space and time. An alteration of the ball (a mark by a pen, perhaps) is carried with it as the ball goes through the air. On the other hand, an alteration of the shadow (insofar as it is possible) will not be transmitted by the shadow as it moves along.

These theorists claim that the important concept for understanding causality is not causal relationships or causal interactions, but rather identifying causal processes. The former notions can then be defined in terms of causal processes.



For the scientific investigation of efficient causality, the cause and effect are each best conceived of as temporally transient processes.

Within the conceptual frame of the scientific method, an investigator sets up several distinct and contrasting temporally transient material processes that have the structure of experiments, and records candidate material responses, normally intending to determine causality in the physical world.[41] For instance, one may want to know whether a high intake of carrots causes humans to develop the bubonic plague. The quantity of carrot intake is a process that is varied from occasion to occasion. The occurrence or non-occurrence of subsequent bubonic plague is recorded. To establish causality, the experiment must fulfill certain criteria, only one example of which is mentioned here. (There are other criteria not mentioned here.) For example, instances of the hypothesized cause must be set up to occur at a time when the hypothesized effect is relatively unlikely in the absence of the hypothesized cause; such unlikelihood is to be established by empirical evidence. A mere observation of a correlation is not nearly adequate to establish causality. In nearly all cases, establishment of causality relies on repetition of experiments and probabilistic reasoning. Hardly ever is causality established more firmly than as more or less probable. It is often most convenient for establishment of causality if the contrasting material states of affairs are fully comparable, and differ through only one variable factor, perhaps measured by a real number. Otherwise, experiments are usually difficult or impossible to interpret.

In some sciences, it is very difficult or nearly impossible to set up material states of affairs that closely test hypotheses of causality. Such sciences can in some sense be regarded as "softer".


Main article: Causality (physics)

One has to be careful in the use of the word cause in physics. Properly speaking, the hypothesized cause and the hypothesized effect are each temporally transient processes. For example, force is a useful concept for the explanation of acceleration, but force is not by itself a cause. More is needed. For example, a temporally transient process might be characterized by a definite change of force at a definite time. Such a process can be regarded as a cause. Causality is not inherently implied in equations of motion, but postulated as an additional constraint that needs to be satisfied (i.e. a cause always precedes its effect). This constraint has mathematical implications[42] such as the Kramers-Kronig relations.

Causality is one of the most fundamental and essential notions of physics.[43] Causal efficacy cannot propagate faster than light. Otherwise, reference coordinate systems could be constructed (using the Lorentz transform of special relativity) in which an observer would see an effect precede its cause (i.e. the postulate of causality would be violated).

Causal notions appear in the context of the flow of mass-energy. For example, it is commonplace to argue that causal efficacy can be propagated by waves (such as electromagnetic waves) only if they propagate no faster than light. Wave packets have group velocity and phase velocity. For waves that propagate causal efficacy, both of these must travel no faster than light. Thus light waves often propagate causal efficacy but de Broglie waves often have phase velocity faster than light and consequently cannot be propagating causal efficacy.

Causal notions are important in general relativity to the extent that the existence of an arrow of time demands that the universe's semi-Riemannian manifold be orientable, so that "future" and "past" are globally definable quantities.


A causal system is a system with output and internal states that depends only on the current and previous input values. A system that has some dependence on input values from the future (in addition to possible past or current input values) is termed an acausal system, and a system that depends solely on future input values is an anticausal system. Acausal filters, for example, can only exist as postprocessing filters, because these filters can extract future values from a memory buffer or a file.

Biology, medicine and epidemiology[edit]

Austin Bradford Hill built upon the work of Hume and Popper and suggested in his paper "The Environment and Disease: Association or Causation?" that aspects of an association such as strength, consistency, specificity and temporality be considered in attempting to distinguish causal from noncausal associations in the epidemiological situation. (See Bradford-Hill criteria.) He did not note however, that temporality is the only necessary criterion among those aspects. Directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) are increasingly used in epidemiology to help enlighten causal thinking.[44]


Main article: Causal reasoning

Psychologists take an empirical approach to causality, investigating how people and non-human animals detect or infer causation from sensory information, prior experience and innate knowledge.


Attribution theory is the theory concerning how people explain individual occurrences of causation. Attribution can be external (assigning causality to an outside agent or force—claiming that some outside thing motivated the event) or internal (assigning causality to factors within the person—taking personal responsibility or accountability for one's actions and claiming that the person was directly responsible for the event). Taking causation one step further, the type of attribution a person provides influences their future behavior.

The intention behind the cause or the effect can be covered by the subject of action. See also accident; blame; intent; and responsibility.

Causal powers

Whereas David Hume argued that causes are inferred from non-causal observations, Immanuel Kant claimed that people have innate assumptions about causes. Within psychology, Patricia Cheng (1997)[45] attempted to reconcile the Humean and Kantian views. According to her power PC theory, people filter observations of events through a basic belief that causes have the power to generate (or prevent) their effects, thereby inferring specific cause-effect relations.

Causation and salience

Our view of causation depends on what we consider to be the relevant events. Another way to view the statement, "Lightning causes thunder" is to see both lightning and thunder as two perceptions of the same event, viz., an electric discharge that we perceive first visually and then aurally.

Naming and causality

David Sobel and Alison Gopnik from the Psychology Department of UC Berkeley designed a device known as the blicket detector which would turn on when an object was placed on it. Their research suggests that "even young children will easily and swiftly learn about a new causal power of an object and spontaneously use that information in classifying and naming the object."[46]

Perception of launching events

Some researchers such as Anjan Chatterjee at the University of Pennsylvania and Jonathan Fugelsang at the University of Waterloo are using neuroscience techniques to investigate the neural and psychological underpinnings of causal launching events in which one object causes another object to move. Both temporal and spatial factors can be manipulated.[47]

See Causal Reasoning (Psychology) for more information.

Statistics and economics[edit]

Statistics and economics usually employ pre-existing data or experimental data to infer causality by regression methods. The body of statistical techniques involves substantial use of regression analysis. Typically a linear relationship such as

is postulated, in which is the ith observation of the dependent variable (hypothesized to be the caused variable), for j=1,...,k is the ith observation on the jth independent variable (hypothesized to be a causative variable), and is the error term for the ith observation (containing the combined effects of all other causative variables, which must be uncorrelated with the included independent variables). If there is reason to believe that none of the s is caused by y, then estimates of the coefficients are obtained. If the null hypothesis that is rejected, then the alternative hypothesis that and equivalently that causes y cannot be rejected. On the other hand, if the null hypothesis that cannot be rejected, then equivalently the hypothesis of no causal effect of on y cannot be rejected. Here the notion of causality is one of contributory causality as discussed above: If the true value , then a change in will result in a change in yunless some other causative variable(s), either included in the regression or implicit in the error term, change in such a way as to exactly offset its effect; thus a change in is not sufficient to change y. Likewise, a change in is not necessary to change y, because a change in y could be caused by something implicit in the error term (or by some other causative explanatory variable included in the model).

The above way of testing for causality requires belief that there is no reverse causation, in which y would cause . This belief can be established in one of several ways. First, the variable may be a non-economic variable: for example, if rainfall amount is hypothesized to affect the futures price y of some agricultural commodity, it is impossible that in fact the futures price affects rainfall amount (provided that cloud seeding is never attempted). Second, the instrumental variables technique may be employed to remove any reverse causation by introducing a role for other variables (instruments) that are known to be unaffected by the dependent variable. Third, the principle that effects cannot precede causes can be invoked, by including on the right side of the regression only variables that precede in time the dependent variable; this principle is invoked, for example, in testing for Granger causality and in its multivariate analog, vector autoregression, both of which control for lagged values of the dependent variable while testing for causal effects of lagged independent variables.

Regression analysis controls for other relevant variables by including them as regressors (explanatory variables). This helps to avoid false inferences of causality due to the presence of a third, underlying, variable that influences both the potentially causative variable and the potentially caused variable: its effect on the potentially caused variable is captured by directly including it in the regression, so that effect will not be picked up as an indirect effect through the potentially causative variable of interest.


The deterministic world-view holds that the history of the universe can be exhaustively represented as a progression of events following one after as cause and effect.[10] The incompatibilist version of this holds that there is no such thing as "free will". Compatibilism, on the other hand, holds that determinism is compatible with, or even necessary for, free will.[48]


For quality control in manufacturing in the 1960s, Kaoru Ishikawa developed a cause and effect diagram, known as an Ishikawa diagram or fishbone diagram. The diagram categorizes causes, such as into the six main categories shown here. These categories are then sub-divided. Ishikawa's method identifies "causes" in brainstorming sessions conducted among various groups involved in the manufacturing process. These groups can then be labeled as categories in the diagrams. The use of these diagrams has now spread beyond quality control, and they are used in other areas of management and in design and engineering. Ishikawa diagrams have been criticized for failing to make the distinction between necessary conditions and sufficient conditions. It seems that Ishikawa was not even aware of this distinction.[49]



In the discussion of history, events are sometimes considered as if in some way being agents that can then bring about other historical events. Thus, the combination of poor harvests, the hardships of the peasants, high taxes, lack of representation of the people, and kingly ineptitude are among the causes of the French Revolution. This is a somewhat Platonic and Hegelian view that reifies causes as

Used in management and engineering, an Ishikawa diagram shows the factors that cause the effect. Smaller arrows connect the sub-causes to major causes.

Latin American culture is the formal or informal expression of the people of Latin America, and includes both high culture (literature, high art) and popular culture (music, folk art and dance) as well as religion and other customary practices. Latin America also has many races.

Definitions of Latin America vary. From a cultural perspective,[1]* Latin America generally includes those parts of the Americas where Spanish, French or Portuguese prevail: Mexico, most of Central America, and South America. There is also an important Latin American cultural presence in the United States (e.g. California and the Southwest, and cities such as New York city and Miami). There is also increasing attention to the relations between Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole. See further discussion of definitions at Latin America.

The richness of Latin American culture is the product of many influences, including:

  • Pre-Columbian cultures, whose importance is today particularly notable in countries such as dax mar Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay.
  • European colonial culture, owing to the region's history of colonization by Spain, Portugal, and France. European influence is particularly marked in so-called high culture, such as literature, painting, and music. Moreover, this imperial history left an enduring mark of their influence in their languages, which are spoken throughout Central (including the Caribbean), South and North America (Mexico and many parts of the United States).
  • The culture of Africa brought by Africans who survived the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, which has influenced for instance dance, music, cuisine, and religion, especially in countries such as Dominican Republic, Brazil, Panama, Uruguay, Colombia, Haiti, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.
  • 19th- and 20th-century immigration (e.g. from Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Eastern Europe) also transformed especially countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil (particular the southeast and southern regions), Colombia, Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, Dominican Republic (specifically the northern region) and Mexico (particularly the northern region).
  • Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, Filipino and Japanese immigration and indentured laborers who arrived from the coolie trade influenced the culture of Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Panama and Peru in areas such as food, art, and cultural trade.

Ethnic groups[edit]

Main article: Ethnic groups in Latin America

Latin America has a very diverse population with many ethnic groups and different ancestries. Only in three countries, do the Amerindians make up the majority of the population. This is the case of Peru, Guatemala and Bolivia. In the rest of the continent, most of the Native American descendants are of mixed race ancestry.[citation needed]

In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries there was a flow of Iberian emigrants who left for Latin America. It was never a large movement of people but over the long period of time it had a major impact on Latin American populations: the Portuguese left for Brazil and the Spaniards left for the rest of the vast region. Of the European immigrants, men greatly outnumbered women and many married natives. This resulted in a mixing of the Amerindians and Europeans and today their descendants are known as mestizos. Even Latin Americans who are considered "European" usually have some native ancestry. Today, mestizos make up the majority of Latin America's population.

Starting in the late 16th century, a large number of African slaves were brought to Latin America, especially to Brazil and the Caribbean.[citation needed] Nowadays, Blacks make up the majority of the population in most Caribbean. Many of the African slaves in Latin America mixed with the Europeans and their descendants (known as Mulattoes) make up the majority of the population in some countries, such as the Dominican Republic, and large percentages in Brazil, Colombia, etc. Mixes between the Blacks and Amerindians also occurred, and their descendants are known as Zambos. Many Latin American countries also have a substantial tri-racial population, which ancestry is a mix of Amerindians, Europeans and Africans.[citation needed]

Large numbers of European immigrants arrived in Latin America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most of them settling in the Southern Cone (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and southern Brazil) and Northern Mexico.[citation needed] Nowadays the Southern Cone has a majority of people of largely European descent and in all more than 80% of Latin America's European population, which is mostly descended from five groups of immigrants: Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, French, Germans and, to a lesser extent, Irish, Poles, Greeks, Croats, Russians, Welsh, Ukrainians, etc.[citation needed]

In this same period, immigrants came from the Middle East and Asia, including Indians, Lebanese, Syrians, and, more recently, Koreans, Chinese and Japanese, mainly to Brazil. These people only make up a small percentage of Latin America's population but they have communities in the major cities.

This diversity has profoundly influenced religion, music and politics. This cultural heritage is (arguably improperly) called Latin or Latino in United States' English. Outside of the U.S., and in many languages (especially romance ones) "Latino" just means "Latin", referring to cultures and peoples that can trace their heritage back to the ancient Roman Empire. Latin American is the proper term.[citation needed]


Spanish is the language in the majority of the countries (See Spanish language in the Americas). Portuguese is spoken primarily in Brazil (See Brazilian Portuguese), where it is both the official and the national language. French is also spoken in smaller countries, in the Caribbean, and French Guiana.

See also: Amerindian languages

Several nations, especially in the Caribbean, have their own Creole languages, derived from European languages and various African tongues. Native American languages are spoken in many Latin American nations, mainly Peru, Panama, Ecuador, Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Mexico. Nahuatl is one of the most spoken indigenous languages with more than a million speakers in Mexico, which is officially confirmed by a government's census. Although Mexico has almost 80 native languages across the country, the government nor the constitution specify an official language (not even Spanish), also, some regions of the nation do not speak any modern way of language and still preserve their ancient dialect without knowing any other language. Guaraní is, along with Spanish, the official language of Paraguay, and is spoken by a majority of the population.

Other European languages spoken include Italian in Brazil and Argentina, German in southern Brazil, southern Chile and Argentina, and Welsh in southern Argentina.


Main article: Religion in Latin America

The primary religion throughout Latin America is Christianity (90%),[2] mostly Roman Catholicism.[3][4] Latin America, and in particular Brazil, were active in developing the quasi-socialist Roman Catholic movement known as Liberation Theology.[citation needed] Practitioners of the Protestant, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormon, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Bahá'í, and indigenous denominations and religions exist. Various Afro-Latin American traditions, such as Santería, and Macumba, a tribal- voodoo religion, are also practiced. Evangelicalism in particular is increasing in popularity.[5]


Further information: Folk Catholicism

Further information: Colombian folklore

Further information: Category:Brazilian_folklore

Further information: Category:Mexican_folklore

See also: Cuento



Although soccer (called fútbol in Spanish) was the most popular sport in most of Latin America, in some parts of the Caribbean and Central America baseball outshined soccer in terms of popularity. The sport started in the late 19th century when sugar companies imported cane cutters from the British Caribbean. During their free time, the workers would play cricket, but later, during the long period of US military occupation, cricket gave way to baseball, which rapidly assumed widespread popularity, although cricket remains the favorite in the British Caribbean. Baseball had the greatest following in those nations occupied at length by the US military, especially Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. All of these countries have emerged as sources of baseball talent, since many players hone their skills on local teams, or in “academies” managed by the US Major Leagues to cultivate the most promising young men for their own teams. Meade, Teresa A. “History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present.” History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present, Wiley Blackwell, 2016, pp. 21–21.

Visual art[edit]

Main article: Latin American art

See also: List of Latin American artists

Beyond the rich tradition of indigenous art, the development of Latin American visual art owed much to the influence of Spanish, Portuguese and French Baroque painting, which in turn often followed the trends of the Italian Masters.[citation needed] In general, this artistic Eurocentrism began to fade in the early 20th century, as Latin-Americans began to acknowledge the uniqueness of their condition and started to follow their own path.

From the early 20th century, the art of Latin America was greatly inspired by the Constructivist Movement.[citation needed] The Constructivist Movement was founded in Russia around 1913 by Vladimir Tatlin. The Movement quickly spread from Russia to Europe and then into Latin America. Joaquín Torres García and Manuel Rendón have been credited with bringing the Constructivist Movement into Latin America from Europe.

An important artistic movement generated in Latin America is Muralism represented by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo and many others in Mexico and Santiago Martinez Delgado, Pedro Nel Gómez in Colombia. Candido Portinari represented the monumentality of Muralism in his paintings, making chronicles the Brazilian people and their realities. Some of the most impressive muralist works can be found in Mexico, Colombia, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

Mexican painter Frida Kahlo remains by far the most known and famous Latin American artist.[citation needed] She painted about her own life and the Mexican culture in a style combining Realism, Symbolism and Surrealism. Kahlo's work commands the highest selling price of all Latin American paintings.


Main article: Latin American literature

See also: List of Latin American writers

Pre-Columbian cultures were primarily oral, though the Aztecs and Mayans, for instance, produced elaborate codices. Oral accounts of mythological and religious beliefs were also sometimes recorded after the arrival of European colonizers, as was the case with the Popol Vuh. Moreover, a tradition of oral narrative survives to this day, for instance among the Quechua-speaking population of Peru and the Quiché of Guatemala.

From the very moment of Europe's "discovery" of the continent, early explorers and conquistadores produced written accounts and crónicas of their experience—such as Columbus's letters or Bernal Díaz del Castillo's description of the conquest of Mexico. During the colonial period, written culture was often in the hands of the church, within which context Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz wrote memorable poetry and philosophical essays. Towards the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, a distinctive criollo literary tradition emerged, including the first novels such as Lizardi's El Periquillo Sarniento (1816).

The 19th century was a period of "foundational fictions" (in critic Doris Sommer's words), novels in the Romantic or Naturalist traditions that attempted to establish a sense of national identity, and which often focussed on the indigenous question or the dichotomy of "civilization or barbarism" (for which see, say, Domingo Sarmiento's Facundo (1845), Juan León Mera's Cumandá (1879), or Euclides da Cunha's Os Sertões (1902)).

At the turn of the 20th century, modernismo emerged, a poetic movement whose founding text was Rubén Darío's Azul (1888). This was the first Latin American literary movement to influence literary culture outside of the region, and was also the first truly Latin American literature, in that national differences were no longer so much at issue.[citation needed]José Martí, for instance, though a Cuban patriot, also lived in Mexico and the United States and wrote for journals in Argentina and elsewhere.

However, what really put Latin American literature on the global map was no doubt the literary boom of the 1960s and 1970s,[citation needed] distinguished by daring and experimental novels (such as Julio Cortázar's Rayuela (1963)) that were frequently published in Spain and quickly translated into English. The Boom's defining novel was Gabriel García Márquez's Cien años de soledad (1967), which led to the association of Latin American literature with magic realism, though other important writers of the period such as Mario Vargas Llosa and Carlos Fuentes do not fit so easily within this framework. Arguably, the Boom's culmination was Augusto Roa Bastos's monumental Yo, el supremo (1974). In the wake of the Boom, influential precursors such as Juan Rulfo, Alejo Carpentier, and above all Jorge Luis Borges were also rediscovered.

Contemporary literature in the region is vibrant and varied, ranging from the best-selling Paulo Coelho and Isabel Allende to the more avant-garde and critically acclaimed work of writers such as Giannina Braschi, Diamela Eltit, Ricardo Piglia, Roberto Bolaño or Daniel Sada. There has also been considerable attention paid to the genre of testimony, texts produced in collaboration with subaltern subjects such as Rigoberta Menchú. Finally, a new breed of chroniclers is represented by the more journalistic Carlos Monsiváis and Pedro Lemebel.

The region boasts six Nobel Prizewinners: in addition to the Colombian García Márquez (1982), also the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral (1945), the Guatemalan novelist Miguel Ángel Asturias (1967), the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1971), the Mexican poet and essayist Octavio Paz (1990), and the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa (2010).


In the 1870-1930 period, the philosophy of positivism or "cientificismo" associated with Auguste Comte in France and Herbert Spencer in England exerted a strong influence on intellectuals, experts and writers in most of the region.[6][7]

Intellectuals embraced positivism with enthusiasm as they say it as the key to modernization of their economies and societies and a weapon to break the old colonial patterns that still survived.[8] Positivism influenced government policy; In Mexico, for example, the administration of President Porfirio Díaz (1876 to 1911) relied heavily on a group of scientific and technocratic advisors who reflected Positivist thinking.[9]


Main article: Music of Latin America

Latin American music comes in many varieties, from the simple, rural conjunto music of northern Mexico to the sophisticated habanera of Cuba, from the symphonies of Heitor Villa-Lobos to the simple and moving Andean flute. Music has played an important part in Latin America's turbulent recent history, for example the nueva canción movement. Latin music is very diverse, with the only truly unifying thread being the use of the Spanish language or, in Brazil, its close cousin the Portuguese language.[10]

Latin America can be divided into several musical areas. Andean music, for example, includes the countries of western South America, typically Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Chile and Venezuela; Central American music includes Nicaragua, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Costa Rica. Caribbean music includes the Caribbean coast of Colombia, Panama, and many Spanish and French-speaking islands in the Caribbean, including Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the less noted Martinique and Guadeloupe. The inclusion of the French West Indies varies by scholars.[11] Brazil perhaps constitutes its own musical area, both because of its large size and incredible diversity as well as its unique history as a Portuguese colony. Although Spain isn't a part of Latin America, Spanish music (and Portuguese music) and Latin American music strongly cross-fertilized each other, but Latin music also absorbed influences from the Anglo-Saxon world, and particularly, African music.

One of the main characteristics of Latin American music is its diversity, from the lively rhythms of Central America and the Caribbean to the more austere sounds of southern South America. Another feature of Latin American music is its original blending of the variety of styles that arrived in The Americas and became influential, from the early Spanish and European Baroque to the different beats of the African rhythms.

Latino-Caribbean music, such as salsa, merengue, bachata, etc., are styles of music that have been strongly influenced by African rhythms and melodies.[12][13]

Other musical genres of Latin America include the Argentine and Uruguayan tango, the Colombian cumbia and vallenato, Mexican bolero, ranchera, Nicaraguan palo de mayo, Uruguayan Candombe, the Panamanian cumbia, tamborito, saloma and pasillo, and the various styles of music from Pre-Columbian traditions that are widespread in the Andean region. In Brazil, samba, American jazz, European classical music and choro combined into bossa nova. Recently the Haitian kompa has become increasingly popular.[14]

The classical composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887–1959) worked on the recording of native musical traditions within his homeland of Brazil. The traditions of his homeland heavily influenced his classical works.[15] Also notable is the much recent work of the Cuban Leo Brouwer and guitar work of the Venezuelan Antonio Lauro and the Paraguayan Agustín Barrios.

Arguably, the main contribution to music entered through folklore, where the true soul of the Latin American and Caribbean countries is expressed. Musicians such as Atahualpa Yupanqui, Violeta Parra, Víctor Jara, Mercedes Sosa, Jorge Negrete, Caetano Veloso, Yma Sumac and others gave magnificent examples of the heights that this soul can reach, for example:the Uruguayan born and first Latin American musician to win an OSCAR prize, Jorge Drexler[16].

Latin pop, including many forms of rock, is popular in Latin America today (see Spanish language rock and roll).[17]


Main article: Latin American cinema

Latin American film is both rich and diverse. But the main centers of production have been Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba.

Latin American cinema flourished after the introduction of sound, which added a linguistic barrier to the export of Hollywood film south of the border. The 1950s and 1960s saw a movement towards Third Cinema, led by the Argentine filmmakers Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino. More recently, a new style of directing and stories filmed as been tagged as "New Latin American Cinema."

Mexican movies from the Golden Era in the 1940s are significant examples of Latin American cinema, with a huge industry comparable to the Hollywood of those years. More recently movies such as Amores Perros (2000) and Y tu mamá también (2001) have been successful in creating universal stories about contemporary subjects, and were internationally recognised. Nonetheless, the country has also witnsessed the rise of experimental filmmakers such as Carlos Reygadas and Fernando Eimbicke who focus on more universal themes and characters. Other important Mexican directors are Arturo Ripstein and Guillermo del Toro.

Argentine cinema was a big industry in the first half of the 20th century. After a series of military governments that shackled culture in general, the industry re-emerged after the 1976–1983 military dictatorship to produce the Academy Award winner The Official Story in 1985. The Argentine economic crisis affected the production of films in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but many Argentine movies produced during those years were internationally acclaimed, including Plata Quemada (2000), Nueve reinas (2000), El abrazo partido (2004) and Roma (2004).

In Brazil, the Cinema Novo movement created a particular way of making movies with critical and intellectual screenplays, a clearer photography related to the light of the outdoors in a tropical landscape, and a political message. The modern Brazilian film industry has become more profitable inside the country, and some of its productions have received prizes and recognition in Europe and the United States. Movies like Central do Brasil (1999) and Cidade de Deus (2003) have fans around the world, and its directors have taken part in American and European film projects.

Cuban cinema has enjoyed much official support since the Cuban revolution, and important filmmakers include Tomás Gutiérrez Alea.

Modern dance[edit]

Main articles: Latin dance and Latin pop

Latin America has a strong tradition of evolving dance styles. Some of its dance and music is considered to emphasize sexuality, and have become popular outside of their countries of origin. Salsa and the more popular Latin dances were created and embraced into the culture in the early and middle 1900s and has since been able to retain its significance both in and outside the Americas. The mariachi bands of Mexico stirred up quick paced rhythms and playful movements at the same time that Cuba embraced similar musical and dance styles. Traditional dances were blended with new, modern ways of moving, evolving into a blended, more contemporary forms.

Ballroom studios teach lessons on many Latin American dances. One can even find the cha-cha being done in honky-tonk country bars. Miami has been a large contributor of the United States’ involvement in Latin dancing. With such a huge Puerto Rican and Cuban population one can find Latin dancing and music in the streets at any time of day or night.

Some of the dances of Latin America are derived from and named for the type of music they are danced to. For example, mambo, salsa, cha-cha-cha, rumba, merengue, samba, flamenco, bachata, and, probably most recognizable, the tango are among the most popular. Each of the types of music has specific steps that go with the music, the counts, the rhythms, and the style.

Modern Latin American dancing is very energetic. These dances primarily are performed with a partner as a social dance, but solo variations exist. The dances emphasize passionate hip movements and the connection between partners. Many of the dances are done in a close embrace while others are more traditional and similar to ballroom dancing, holding a stronger frame between the partners.


Theatre in Latin America existed before the Europeans came to the continent. The natives of Latin America had their own rituals, festivals, and ceremonies. They involved dance, singing of poetry, song, theatrical skits, mime, acrobatics, and magic shows. The performers were trained; they wore costumes, masks, makeup, wigs. Platforms had been erected to enhance visibility. The ‘sets’ were decorated with branches from trees and other natural objects.[18]

The Europeans used this to their advantage. For the first fifty years after the Conquest the missionaries used theatre widely to spread the Christian doctrine to a population accustomed to the visual and oral quality of spectacle and thus maintaining a form of cultural hegemony. It was more effective to use the indigenous forms of communication than to put an end to the ‘pagan’ practices, the conquerors took out the content of the spectacles, retained the trappings, and used them to convey their own message.[19]

Pre-Hispanic rituals were how the indigenous came in contact with the divine. Spaniards used plays to Christianize and colonize the indigenous peoples of the Americas in the 16th century.[20] Theatre was a potent tool in manipulating a population already accustomed to spectacle. Theatre became a tool for political hold on Latin America by colonialist theatre by using indigenous performance practices to manipulate the population.[21]

Theatre provided a way for the indigenous people were forced to participate in the drama of their own defeat. In 1599, the Jesuits even used cadavers of Native Americans to portray the dead in the staging of the final judgment.[22]

While the plays were promoting a new sacred order, their first priority was to support the new secular, political order. Theatre under the colonizers primarily at the service of the administration.[19]

After the large decrease in the native population, the indigenous consciousness and identity in theatre disappeared, though pieces did have indigenous elements to them.[23] The theatre that progressed in Latin America is argued to be theatre that the conquerors brought to the Americas, not the theatre of the Americas.[24]

Progression in Postcolonial Latin American Theatre

Internal strife and external interference have been the drive behind Latin American history which applies the same to theatre.

1959–1968: dramaturgical structures and structures of social projects leaned more toward constructing a more native Latin American base called the "Nuestra America"

1968–1974: Theatre tries to claim a more homogenous definition which brings in more European models. At this point, Latin American Theatre tried to connect to its historical roots.

1974–1984: The search for expression rooted in the history of Latin America became victims of exile and death.[25]


Main article: Latin American cuisine

Latin American cuisine is a phrase that refers to typical foods, beverages, and cooking styles common to many of the countries and cultures in Latin America. It should be noted that Latin America is a very diverse area of land that holds various cuisines that vary from nation to nation.

Some items typical of Latin American cuisine include maize-based dishes (tortillas, tamales, pupusas) and various salsas and other condiments (guacamole, pico de gallo, mole). These spices are generally what give the Latin American cuisines a distinct flavor in penors; yet, each country of Latin America tends to use a different spice and those that share spices tend to use them at different quantities. Thus, this leads for a variety across the land. Meat is also greatly consumed and constitutes one of the main dishes in many Latin American countries where they're considered specialties, referred to as Asado or Churrasco.

Latin American beverages are just as distinct as their foods. Some of the beverages can even date back to the times of the Native Americans. Some popular beverages include mate, Pisco Sour, horchata, chicha, atole, cacao and aguas frescas.

Desserts in Latin America include dulce de leche, alfajor, arroz con leche, tres leches cake, Teja and flan.

Regional cultures[edit]


Main article: Culture of Mexico

Traditionally, Mexicans have struggled with the creation of a united identity. The issue is the main topic of Mexican Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz's book The Labyrinth of Solitude. Mexico is a large country with a large population, therefore having many cultural traits found only in some parts of the country. The north of Mexico is the least culturally diverse due to its very low Native American population and high density of those of European descent. Northern Mexicans are also more americanized due to the common border with the United States. Central and southern Mexico is where many well-known traditions find their origin, therefore the people from this area are in a way the most traditional, but their collective personality can't be generalized. People from Puebla, for instance, are thought to be conservative and reserved, and just a few kilometers away, the people from Veracruz have the fame of being very outgoing and liberal. Chilangos (Mexico City natives) are believed to be a bit aggressive, and self-centered. The regiomontanos (from Monterrey) are thought to be rather proud, regardless of their social status. Almost every Mexican state has its own accent, making it fairly easy to distinguish the origin of someone by their use of language.

The derogatory term naco was forged by the middle and upper class Mexicans to refer to the native or mestizo population. The term allegedly comes from the word totonaco, which is one of the ethnic groups in Valle de Mexico. Its use has been made popular even among the poorest classes. Mexicans differ in opinion about the meaning of the word. Some would use it for a person who dresses in a tacky or tasteless manner, some use it to refer to the natives, some to the poor classes, and other for people with less education or culture and other ideology. The term fresa is in some terms the opposite of naco, and it is not always derogatory and means always some relative high economical status of the person termed in that way. Traditionally, people with more European looks and belonging to the middle or high classes are called fresas.

Dancing and singing are commonly part of family gatherings, bringing the old and young together, no matter what kind of music is being played, like cumbia, salsa, merengue or the more Mexican banda. Dancing is a strong part of the culture.

Mexicans in places like Guadalajara, Puebla, Monterrey, Mexico City, and most middle sized cities, enjoy a great variety of options for leisure. Shopping centers are a favorite among families, since there has been an increasing number of new malls that cater to people of all ages and interests. A large number of them, have multiplex cinemas, international and local restaurants, food courts, cafes, bars, bookstores and most of the international renowned clothing brands are found too. Mexicans are prone to travel within their own country, making short weekend trips to a neighbouring city or town.

The standard of living in Mexico is higher than most of other countries in Latin America attracting migrants in search for better opportunities. With the recent economic growth, many high income families live in single houses, commonly found within a gated community, called "fraccionamiento". The reason these places are the most popular among the middle and upper classes is that they offer a sense of security and provide social status. Swimming pools or golf clubs, and/or some other commodities are found in these fraccionamientos. Poorer Mexicans, by contrast, live a harsh life, although they share the importance they grant to family, friends and cultural habits.

Two of the major television networks based in Mexico are Televisa and TV Azteca. Soap operas (telenovelas) are translated to many languages and seen all over the world with renown names like Verónica Castro, Lucía Méndez, Lucero, and Thalía. Even Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna from Y tu mamá también and current Zegna model act in some of them. Some of their TV shows are modeled after American counterparts like Family Feud (100 Mexicanos Dijeron or "A hundred Mexicans said" in Spanish), Big Brother, American Idol, Saturday Night Live and others. Nationwide news shows like Las Noticias por Adela on Televisa resemble a hybrid between Donahue and Nightline. Local news shows are modeled after American counterparts like the Eyewitness News and Action News formats.

Mexico's national sports are charreria and bullfighting. Ancient Mexicans played a ball game which still exists in Northwest Mexico (Sinaloa, the game is called Ulama), though it is not a popular sport any more. Most Mexicans enjoy watching bullfights. Almost all large cities have bullrings. Mexico city has the largest bullring in the world, which seats 55,000 people. But the favorite sport remains football (soccer) while baseball is also popular especially in the northern states because of the American influence, and a number of Mexicans have become stars in the US Major Leagues. Professional wrestling is shown on shows like Lucha Libre. American football is practiced at the major universities like UNAM. Basketball has also been gaining popularity, with a number of Mexican players having been drafted to play in the National Basketball Association.

Central America[edit]

Further information: Central America

Further information: Culture of Belize, Culture of Costa Rica, Culture of El Salvador, Culture of Guatemala, Culture of Honduras, Culture of Nicaragua, and Culture of Panama

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it.(June 2008)


Main article: Culture of Guatemala

The culture of Guatemala reflects strong Mayan and Spanish influences and continues to be defined as a contrast between poor Mayan villagers in the rural highlands, and the urbanized and wealthy mestizos population who occupy the cities and surrounding agricultural plains.

Main article: cuisine of Guatemala

The cuisine of Guatemala reflects the multicultural nature of Guatemala, in that it involves food that differs in taste depending on the region. Guatemala has 22 departments (or divisions), each of which has very different food varieties. For example, Antigua Guatemala is well known for its candy which makes use of many local ingredients fruits, seeds and nuts along with honey, condensed milk and other traditional sweeteners. Antigua's candy is very popular when tourists visit the country for the first time, and is a great choice in the search for new and interesting flavors. Many traditional foods are based on Maya cuisine and prominently feature corn, chiles and beans as key ingredients. Various dishes may have the same name as a dish from a neighboring country, but may in fact be quite different for example the enchilada or quesadilla, which are nothing like their Mexican counterparts.

Main article: music of Guatemala

The music of Guatemala is diverse. Guatemala's national instrument is the marimba, an idiophone from the family of the xylophones, which is played all over the country, even in the remotest corners. Towns also have wind and percussion bands -week processions, as well as on other occasions. The Garifuna people of Afro-Caribbean descent, who are spread thinly on the northeastern Caribbean coast, have their own distinct varieties of popular and folk music. Cumbia, from the Colombian variety, is also very popular especially among the lower classes. Dozens of Rock bands have emerged in the last two decades, making rock music quite popular among young people. Guatemala also has an almost five-century-old tradition of art music, spanning from the first liturgical chant and polyphony introduced in 1524 to contemporary art music. Much of the music composed in Guatemala from the 16th century to the 19th century has only recently been unearthed by scholars and is being revived by performers.

Main article: Guatemalan literature

Guatemalan literature is famous around the world whether in the indigenous languages present in the country or in Spanish. Though there was likely literature in Guatemala before the arrival of the Spanish, all the texts that exist today were written after their arrival. The Popol Vuh is the most significant work of Guatemalan literature in the Quiché language, and one of the most important of Pre-Columbian American literature. It is a compendium of Mayan stories and legends, aimed to preserve Mayan traditions. The first known version of this text dates from the 16th century and is written in Quiché transcribed in Latin characters. It was translated into Spanish by the Dominican priest Francisco Ximénez in the beginning of the 18th century. Due to its combination of historical, mythical, and religious elements, it has been called the Mayan Bible. It is a vital document for understanding the culture of pre-Columbian America. The Rabinal Achí is a dramatic work consisting of dance and text that is preserved as it was originally represented. It is thought to date from the 15th century and narrates the mythical and dynastic origins of the Kek'chi' people, and their relationships with neighboring peoples. The Rabinal Achí is performed during the Rabinal festival of January 25, the day of Saint Paul. It was declared a masterpiece of oral tradition of humanity by UNESCO in 2005. The 16th century saw the first native-born Guatemalan writers that wrote in Spanish. Major writers of this era include Sor Juana de Maldonado, considered the first poet playwright of colonial Central America, and the historian Francisco Antonio de Fuentes y Guzmán. The Jesuit Rafael Landívar (1731–1793) is considered as the first great Guatemalan poet. He was forced into exile by Carlos III. He traveled to Mexico and later to Italy, where he did. He originally wrote his Rusticatio Mexicana and his poems praising the bishop Figueredo y Victoria in Latin.

The Maya people are known for their brightly colored yarn-based textiles, which are woven into capes, shirts, blouses, huipiles and dresses. Each village has its own distinctive pattern, making it possible to distinguish a person's home town on sight. Women's clothing consists of a shirt and a long skirt.

Roman Catholicism combined with the indigenous Maya religion are the unique syncretic religion which prevailed throughout the country and still does in the rural regions. Beginning from negligible roots prior to 1960, however, Protestant Pentecostalism has grown to become the predominant religion of Guatemala City and other urban centers and down to mid-sized towns. The unique religion is reflected in the local saint, Maximón, who is associated with the subterranean force of masculine fertility and prostitution. Always depicted in black, he wears a black hat and sits on a chair, often with a cigar placed in his mouth and a gun in his hand, with offerings of tobacco, alcohol and Coca-Cola at his feet. The locals know him as San Simon of Guatemala.


Main article: Culture of Nicaragua

Nicaraguan culture has several distinct strands. The Pacific coast has strong folklore, music and religious traditions, deeply influenced by European culture but enriched with Amerindian sounds and flavors. The Pacific coast of the country was colonized by Spain and has a similar culture to other Spanish-speaking Latin American countries. The Caribbean coast of the country, on the other hand, was once a British protectorate. English is still predominant in this region and spoken domestically along with Spanish and indigenous languages. Its culture is similar to that of Caribbean nations that were or are British possessions, such as Jamaica, Belize, The Cayman Islands, etc.

Nicaraguan music is a mixture of indigenous and European, especially Spanish and to a lesser extent German, influences. The latter was a result of the German migration to the central-north regions of Las Segovias where Germans settled and brought with them polka music which influenced and evolved into Nicaraguan mazurka, polka and waltz. The Germans that migrated to Nicaragua are speculated to have been from the regions of Germany which were annexed to present-day Poland following the Second World War; hence the genres of mazurka, polka in addition to the waltz. One of the more famous composers of classical music and Nicaraguan waltz was Jose de la Cruz Mena who was actually not from the northern regions of Nicaragua but rather from the city of Leon in Nicaragua.

More nationally identified however, are musical instruments such as the marimba which is also common across Central America. The marimba of Nicaragua is uniquely played by a sitting performer holding the instrument on his knees. It is usually accompanied by a bass fiddle, guitar and guitarrilla (a small guitar like a mandolin). This music is played at social functions as a sort of background music. The marimba is made with hardwood plates, placed over bamboo or metal tubes of varying lengths. It is played with two or four hammers. The Caribbean coast of Nicaragua is known for a lively, sensual form of dance music called Palo de Mayo. It is especially loud and celebrated during the Palo de Mayo festival in May The Garifuna community exists in Nicaragua and is known for its popular music called Punta.

Literature of Nicaragua can be traced to pre-Columbian times with the myths and oral literature that formed the cosmogonic view of the world that indigenous people had. Some of these stories are still know in Nicaragua. Like many Latin American countries, the Spanish conquerors have had the most effect on both the culture and the literature. Nicaraguan literature is among the most important in Spanish language, with world-famous writers such as Rubén Darío who is regarded as the most important literary figure in Nicaragua, referred to as the "Father of Modernism" for leading the modernismo literary movement at the end of the 19th century.[26]

El Güegüense is a satirical drama and was the first literary work of post-Columbian Nicaragua. It is regarded as one of Latin America's most distinctive colonial-era expressions and as Nicaragua's signature folkloric masterpiece combining music, dance and theater.[26] The theatrical play was written by an anonymous author in the 16th century, making it one of the oldest indigenous theatrical/dance works of the Western Hemisphere.[27] The story was published in a book in 1942 after many centuries.[28]

South America[edit]

Andean states[edit]

Further information: Andean states

Further information: Culture of Bolivia, Culture of Colombia, Culture of Ecuador, Culture of Peru, and Culture of Venezuela

The Andes Region comprises roughly much of what is now Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, and was the seat of the Inca Empire in the pre-Columbian era. As such, many of the traditions date back to Incan traditions.

During the independization of the Americas many countries including Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador and Panama formed what was known as Gran Colombia, a federal republic that later dissolved, however the people in these countries believe each other to be their brothers and sisters and as such share many traditions and festivals. Peru and Bolivia were also one single country until Bolivia declared its independence, nevertheless both nations are close neighbors that have somewhat similar cultures.

Romance languages in Latin America: Green-Spanish; Blue-French; Orange-Portuguese
Cineteca nacional in Mexico
Intermediate level international-style Latin dancing at the 2006 MIT ballroom dance competition. A judge stands in the foreground.
La Marcha de la Humanidad
Fiambre, Guatemalan traditional dish, eaten on November 1, the Day of the Dead
Guatemalan girls in their traditional clothing from the town of Santa Catarina Palopó on Lake Atitlán
Celebrating the annual "Alegria por la vida"Carnaval in Managua, Nicaragua

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