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  • The new UNASUR building in Quito, Ecuador was  inaugurated Dec. 5, 2014.

    The new UNASUR building in Quito, Ecuador was inaugurated Dec. 5, 2014. | Photo: AFP

Published 23 April 2016

When created, the UNASUR leaders decided to turn the bloc into a EU-type region with a parliament, unified currency and passport.

The Union of South American Nations, or UNASUR, will mark its ninth anniversary this Sunday, April 17 with a 12-kilometer race in Ecuador with the aim of “bringing the regional body closer to the people,” the 12-nation bloc revealed in a recent statement.

UNASUR: Integrating Latin America

On the day of its official creation in 2007, one of the most prominent figures behind UNASUR's creation, former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said, “Today, we decided to call the ongoing integration of South American nations UNASUR, the Union of South American Nations, a tremendous concept."

Allan Wagner Tizon, then Secretary General of the Andean Community, said UNASUR would be a complete union like that of the EU by 2019.

1. UNASUR'S Creation

Basically the integration of the Andean Community and the Mercosur nations, which was formalized on May 23, 2008 during the signing of the Cuzco Declaration by South American leaders in Brasilia. However, UNASUR was officially created April 17, 2007.

2. UNASUR and the EU

UNASUR, which is integrated by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay, Chile and Venezuela, is intended to be turned into a European Union type bloc, with a unified passport, a parliament, and a single currency by 2019.

3. The Population

The combined population of the bloc was estimated at 412.3 million in 2015, which is 65 percent of Latin America's population and 5.6 percent of the world's population. In 1950, UNASUR's combined population was about 112 million. UNASUR is one of the world's most urbanized regions and in it are six of Latin America's and the Caribbean's city with more than 4 million inhabitants. Its demographic density is estimated at 21 per square kilometer, which is way lower than the 48 per km2 in Asia, 116 per km2 in Europe, and 34 in Africa.

4. Health Services and Medical Advances

Due to progress in health services and medical advances, UNASUR has raised the life expectancy of its population from below 60 in 1950 to the over 75 currently. In 2015, 25 percent of the population in the bloc are younger than 15 years. Eight percent are older than 65, while 67 percent are between 15 and 64.

5. Indigenous in the Region

The Indigenous population of the 12 UNASUR nations is of about 21 million or 5.3 percent of the total population. The bloc has 826 Indigenous groups. Brazil has the largest number of Indigenous peoples: 305. They are followed by Colombia (102), and Peru (85). There are about 200 Indigenous groups that have voluntarily isolated themselves from the rest of the people. Many of the Indigenous groups face extinction, primarily in Brazil. In the last 10 years, UNASUR nations have achieved major progress in improvements and equality for Indigenous people, possibly more than anywhere else in the world.

6. Poverty and More

UNASUR nations have been frequently praised for reducing poverty. In 2012, poverty hit an all-time low of 21.4 percent, while homelessness was also drastically reduced to 7.1 percent. In 2012, UNASUR nations counted 85 million people in poverty, compared to 156 million in 2003. Unemployment was reduced from 13.7 percent in 2003 to 8 percent in 2008. And to 6.9 percent in 2013. Currently, UNASUR's unemployment rate is lower than in Canada, the United States and the European Union.


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