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Get To Know the 8 Latin American Countries Celebrating Their Independence This Month

No, Cinco de Mayo has nothing to do with it.

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Hi, I'm Lauren!

Lauren is a Mexico City–based writer, editor, and translator from Yorkshire with bylines at CNN, BBC Travel, and Al Jazeera. She’s currently working on her first full-length literary translation in between harassing her cat, drinking smuggled Yorkshire Tea, and blogging about Latin American literature at leyendolatam.com.

Fiestas patrias, National Day, Independence Day—whatever you want to call it, these eight Latin American countries are celebrating it this, and every, September. From the fireworks of central Mexico to the military parades and family fiestas in the chilly reaches of South America, here’s how and when the following countries celebrate their independence this month.

1. Costa Rica

A monkey hangs out in a tree at Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica.
A monkey relaxes in the trees of the Manuel Antonio National Park.Bildquelle: Ozzie Hoppe / Viator

September 15

Flag raising, parades, and renditions of the national anthem ring out across Costa Rica in September to celebrate the country’s 1821 independence from Spain. (It would take until 1838 for Costa Rica to separate itself from the Central American Republic though.) Independence was officially declared on September 15, but Costa Rican festivities typically begin on September 14 with the atmospheric lantern parade, or Desfile de Faroles.

2. El Salvador

A church in the Suchitoto municipality of El Salvador.
Suchitoto in El Salvador, which celebrates independence on September 15.Bildquelle: Fotos593 / Shutterstock

September 15

Like Costa Rica, El Salvador celebrates its independence from Spain on September 15. It's a date shared by most Central American countries owing to the 1821 Act of Independence of Central America. Unlike its neighbor to the south, however, El Salvador waits for the morning of September 15 to celebrate in earnest with military marches, street dances, and more. Diasporic Salvadorans in Los Angeles (and beyond) also mark the day of their liberation from Spanish colonizers with an annual parade through the city’s downtown.

3. Guatemala

A view of the Tikal archaeological site in Guatemala.
Tikal archaeological site in Guatemala.Bildquelle: Swikar Patel / Viator

September 15

It was in present-day Guatemala City that the Act of Independence of Central America was signed. Now, Guatemala marks the day with nationwide street parades, marimba performances, and traditional food galore. Guatemala is also the starting point for the symbolic independence torch, which is carried across Central America—from Guatemala to Cartago in Costa Rica—in a relay not unlike that of the Olympic flame.

4. Honduras

A bird's eye view of Tegucigalpa in Honduras.
An aerial view of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.Bildquelle: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock

September 15

Honduras also celebrates its independence on September 15, even though it passed from Spanish rule to that of the First Mexican Empire. In 1823, the latter ceded in favor of forming the United Provinces of Central America, and it wasn’t until 1838 that Honduras finally established itself as a sovereign nation. Even so, September 15—and the month of September as a whole—remains a time of celebration, marked by school parades on September 13, 14, and 15.

5. Nicaragua

A street view of Granada, a colonial city, in Nicaragua.
The colonial city of Granada in Nicaragua.Bildquelle: Kanokratnok / Shutterstock

September 15

The last of five Central American countries to celebrate its independence on September 15—although, like Honduras, Nicaragua then became part of the First Mexican Empire and didn’t achieve full independence until 1838—Nicaraguan festivities follow a similar format to those of its neighbors. Think: parades, street parties, and blue-and-white flags fluttering nationwide. In the capital Managua, official speeches are given and both cock and bullfights are celebratory staples.

6. Mexico

A church in Guanajuato, Mexico.
It was in Dolores Hidalgo that Mexico’s independence movement gathered steam.Bildquelle: Rubi Rodriguez Martinez / Shutterstock

September 16

Mexican Independence Day festivities are a lively affair, set against a backdrop of red, white, and green tricolor flags, and soundtracked by fireworks and the "cry of independence." Originally made in 1810 by Miguel Hidalgo in Dolores, Guanajuato, the grito de independencia (or “Cry of Dolores,” as it’s sometimes known) is now replicated—in the loosest sense of the word—by the Mexican president on the National Palace balcony on September 15. (However, Spain didn’t officially recognize the country’s independence until December 28, 1836.) Viva México, as they say.

7. Chile

A church and a high rise in Santiago de Chile.
Santiago de Chile is a city of contrasts, which celebrates independence on September 18.Bildquelle: Tamara Merino / Viator

September 18

Although full liberation from Spain wasn’t achieved until February 12, 1818, Chile marks its annual dieciocho (“eighteenth”) celebrations on the date that conditional independence was declared: September 18, 1810. With festivities that can last an entire week, the country launches into convivial barbecues, rodeos, and an 11am fiestas patrias event helmed by the president in the Plaza de Armas, Santiago, as well as military parades and family fiestas.

8. Belize

A boat parked near a dock at Ambergris Caye in Belize.
Ambergris Caye in Belize, which celebrates independence on September 21.Bildquelle: Brian Feulner / Viator

September 21

Unlike its mes de la patria (literally, “Month of the Fatherland”) bedfellows, Belize does not celebrate independence from Spain; rather, it celebrates its 1981 liberation (no, that's not a typo) from the British Empire on September 21. Independence festivities typically begin on September 10, which is St. George’s Caye Day, with marches and parades taking place until September 21. Belize—which was British Honduras from 1836 until 1973—remains part of the Commonwealth.

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