Latin America is a space defined in geographic, historic and cultural terms. In current usage, it refers to the Americas south of the United States, covering Mexico, Central America (seven countries), South America (nine countries), Cuba and the Dominican Republic; excluding the Caribbean Antilles, i.e., those territories colonized by France, the United Kingdom or the Netherlands and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Despite its common features: their Spanish colonial past, Spanish as a mother tongue – except for Portuguese in Brazil – Roman Catholicism as the predominant religion and their condition as ‘emergent economies', Latin America is a vast area with geographic, economic, social and political diversity expressed in various levels of economic development. The present chapter encompasses Mexico and seven South American nations – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and Uruguay – with particular emphasis on one Andean country: Colombia.
Its purpose is to offer a selective, non-comprehensive survey of the literature dealing with cultural features in their interplay with entrepreneurship in the region for the 1850-2000 period. This literature illustrates both American- rooted psychological and sociological ‘modernization’ theory, Marxist-inspired ‘dependency’ theory, national values and business history research. It is examined for clues to the relationship between cultural features and entrepreneurship and its relation to economic development. In addition, the distinctive features and patterns of Latin American entrepreneurship are synthesized and challenges and opportunities confronting future research into the historical explanation of entrepreneurship in this part of the world are delineated.