Thanks in part to soybeans and iron ore, cars, and coffee, Brazil has overtaken Britain as the world's sixth largest economy - though there are some clouds on the horizon.
Peru's new President Ollanta Humala is a former Army officer who once led a rebellion. He faces the task of maintaining rapid economic growth while diffusing growing social unrest.
Brazil just launched a new, multibillion-dollar program to aid the 16 million Brazilians still living in extreme poverty. The program is the latest in an effort across Latin America to stamp out poverty.
Although 56 million households have joined Latin America's middle class, many lack the benefits and job security to ensure stability.
Venezuela President Hugo Chávez severed ties after Colombia accused its neighbor of harboring Marxist guerrillas of the FARC rebel group. UN and Latin American leaders are calling for dialogue and restraint.
A lost generation is emerging as unemployment soars among Latin America youths. Nearly 20 percent are neither studying nor looking for jobs.
Commodities-hungry China is pulling Brazil, Chile, and others out of recession. But Mexico and Central America, dependent on US sales, are lagging.
As America became distracted by the war on terror after 9/11, the region sought other partners.