Travel to South America, and you’ll understand the instant appeal of this vast continent. It’s an artist’s dream: the mountains of the Andes, the deserts of Chile, the ranches and vineyards of Argentina, the rainforests of Colombia, and the beach resorts of Costa Rica. These picturesque Latin countries are some of the best Spanish speaking countries to visit!
Unfortunately, popular opinion has long held Latin America as dangerous and embroiled in drug wars. In the past, this bleak perception may have been accurate, but a lot has progressed since then. There are numerous countries in South America with almost no crime rate and even lower crime rates than the developed world.
So, which are the safest Spanish speaking countries?
Understanding Spanish Culture
Most Latin-American countries are former colonies of either Portugal or Spain. This European influence contributed immensely to the religion and national language of the people.
It was also pivotal in understanding Spanish culture on the continent. There was a unique hybrid culture that developed through the intermingling of European, Native Indian, and African customs. Today, it is known as Hispanic in the Spanish-speaking territories.
Catholicism dominates, brought by the Conquistadors in the 15th Century. The church is the center of the family, which is typically large and paternalistic. Male culture is full of machismo and honor, and people believe in hard work.
The younger generation has a more modern outlook on life, but show respect and care for the older generation.
Latin America is also a resource-rich continent.
- Colombia produces 90 percent of the world’s emeralds
- Brazil is the world’s largest sugar and coffee producer
- Chile and Argentina are accomplished wine producers, with many award-winning New World wines
- Peru is a significant exporter of alpaca fur
- Venezuelan women, renowned for their beauty, have produced more Miss Worlds than any other country in the world.
Given the considerable influence of Spain on the Spanish-speaking territories, are Latin and Spanish the same? The answer is a resounding no.
Latino Spanish differs from European Spanish in both language and culture. For instance, the word potato in Spanish is patata but in Mexican Spanish is pata, and a pen is bolígrafo in Spain, but pluma in Mexico.
Safest Spanish Speaking Countries
Chile is stunning—almost ethereal. It is a diverse country that traverses the continent with the mountains of the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It has a Global Peace Index (GPI) of 28.
Chile’s diverse landscapes comprise of deserts, beaches, mountains, and lush forests, and makes this country stand out. Sample the Atacama Desert, visit numerous volcanoes, and kayak in a maze of picture-perfect lakes.
You’ll also be impressed with the sophisticated cities, filled with fantastic architecture, beautiful surroundings, fashionable people, mouth-watering food, and reasonable standards of living.
Argentina is hands-down the beef capital of the world. Visit the land of the gauchos to see how cattle ranching is done authentically. It is the second-largest country in South America and the eighth largest in the world.
Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan city that is accessible, modern, fashionable, and full of high-quality eateries. This land is the home of beef and a carnivore’s heaven.
Wine also features heavily on the Argentinian landscape. You can take a tour of the beautiful estate vineyards dotted all over the countryside, as well as the ranches that still maintain traditional country living.
With a GPI of 75 and only seven homicides per 1000 people annually, this country is high on the safety ladder.
A beautiful country nestled in the north-west corner of the continent, Peru is full of tradition and customs, passed down through the ages.
It has exquisite beaches and majestic mountains, where the ancient city Machu Picchu sits. If you love hiking and history, Peru is the right place to visit.
Make a point of seeing the alpacas in their natural environment and perusing the traditional handicrafts the enterprising locals make with soft alpaca fur.
The capital city, Lima, offers exotic beaches, as well as an authentic Latin city experience with dancing and fountains. You won’t have to worry about crime when you’re out and about at night, either. The crime rate in Peru is almost zero, and, with a GPI of 80, Peru is one of the safest Spanish speaking countries to visit.
Panama is the gateway to South America. It is fast becoming an ideal country in which to retire, coupled with visa-friendly policies that allow free entry to many from foreigners.
The country has now started to receive a plethora of tourists, and the crime rate has decreased. This decline is a result of the vigilance and competence of the police and border patrol officials from the country’s official border agency, SENAFRONT.
Panama City is also an ideal city to live and work in, with high salaries, low taxes, and a reasonable cost of living.
Costa Rica is known as “the rich coast,” and it is a tropical paradise. It is a warm and welcoming country with a convenient and modern capital city, San Jose. The country has a high GPI of 33, with a low crime rate, clean water supply, and quality medical care with its world-class doctors and hospitals.
You’ll experience some crime, but should you take the recommended precautions and heed travel warnings, these incidents will be minimal. You’ll have a wonderful time in this Latin country. Many consider Costa Rica not only an excellent tourism destination but an ideal place to live, work, and retire.
Wrapping It Up
We haven’t even covered all the other countries that qualify to be listed among the safest Spanish speaking countries on the South American continent. Other notable countries include Cuba, Guyana, Uruguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
It’s always advisable to read the State Department’s travel updates before you go, as situations erupt all over the world. Safety problems can happen anywhere, including in the United States, which interestingly is one of the world’s largest Spanish-speaking countries with a sizeable Latino community.
We also can’t forget Spain, the mother country, as one of the safest Spanish speaking countries to visit.