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Latin Europe is a loose term for the region of Europe with an especially strong Roman cultural heritage. The term has been used by some authors like Rogelio Pérez-Perdomo and Lawrence Friedman.[1] Geographically anchored in Southern Europe, the countries using a Romance language (or one with a large Romance lexical input), that are also predominantly Roman Catholic, are considered culturally Latin by Pérez-Perdomo and Friedman.[1] Many such countries have status within the Latin Union. There is no clear definition on which countries or areas are included, but Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and most of their culturally related European Microstates always or nearly always are. The distinction between Latin and non-Latin Europe is made complicated by the fact that a strong Latin (Greco-Roman) cultural heritage is an essential defining aspect of all modern western countries.[citation needed] Making the distinction between the Latin and non-Latin countries of modern Europe is then a matter of estimating the difference in the degree of Latin cultural influence between countries.

Contents

History

The Roman Empire at its greatest extent.

The term originated during the period of the Roman Empire to distinguish it from the Greek dominated parts of Europe. During medieval times the term was used to identify all of Western Europe, which at the time was religiously united. The term was especially popular during the Crusades, used by both Byzantine and Muslim rulers, when referring to the western European Crusaders and their countries.

Geography

South Europe

Today, Latin Europe is seen more narrowely as a Southern European entity.[1][2] The countries forming the so-called Latin Arch, as well as Portugal, and the landlocked microstates form the core of the region, although there are Southern European countries outside the arch, such as Greece and the other countries of the Balkan peninsula. The Greek language and religion do not fit in with the characteristics of what constitutes a Latin country, and so Greece is rarely grouped with it. This also applies to much of the remainder of the Balkan peninsula.

Western European Luxembourg, whilst matching the religious and linguistic characteristics of most Latin European countries, is rarely included. Its population usually speaks Luxembourgish, which is a Germanic language, but the French language enjoys co–official status.

Language

Distribution of Romance-speaking populations in Europe

A major aspect of what defines "Latin Europe" today is the use of Romance languages i.e. those derived from Vulgar Latin after the decline of the Roman Empire. These languages have nearly 920 million native speakers worldwide [2], mainly in the Americas, Europe, and Africa, as well as in many smaller regions scattered through the world.

The most spoken Romance languages are Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian, Catalan and Galician. As well as these being used as official, or even co-official languages in a number of countries, they also have significant unofficial use in a number of others. Malta for example, which in fact historically used Italian as its official language. In addition to this, the Maltese language itself became so infiltrated with Italian words, that these now form the majority vocabulary influence in the language.[3] Such influence, usually to a lesser extent, is common in other languages in close contact with Latinate ones, warranting the linguistic inclusion of these areas too.[citation needed] In Vatican City, Latin, which was the very predecessor of the Romance languages, is used in many situations, and there are other minority languages like Venetian, Occitan, Leonese or Sardinian that are descended from Latin.

Religion

Distribution of Roman Catholicism in Europe.

A significant Latin European cultural factor is the predominance of Roman Catholicism.[1] Vatican City has a uniformly Catholic population and is the home of the Pope. Andorra, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Malta, San Marino, and Monaco are Latin European countries which share the religion as the clearly leading faith. It is likewise the main religion in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Luxembourg, Ireland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Poland, Liechtenstein, and Lithuania, but these are not considered Latin countries.

Partially Latin

All areas of Europe have more than one significant historical cultural input.

Romania and Moldova are also Romance-speaking European countries. The Romans, from whom their inhabitants descend, remained under the rule and later the influence of the Eastern Roman Empire after the final partition of the Roman Empire in the year 395. However, with Eastern Orthodox majorities rather than Roman Catholic, they are rarely considered part of Latin Europe.

Even within countries with a Romance language as official, there are often significant minority languages in some regions, such as Basque in the Basque Country (Southern Basque Country in Spain and Northern Basque Country in France), which arguably militate against classifying such regions as Latin, since their language is not Latin derived not even Indo-European.

Switzerland has four official languages, three of which are Latinate—French, Italian and Romansh—while the fourth is GermanicGerman. Thus, inclusion of Switzerland, and other multilingual countries, is often controversial. A similar situation occurs in Belgium, where the Walloons compose around half of the population and French is one of the three official languages nationally. Such countries, as Luxembourg, Belgium, and Switzerland, are considered on the border between Latin and Germanic Europe, with dual Romance and Germanic language use, and Roman Catholicism (see Romano-Germanic culture).

See also

References

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