The rich region of Latin America has in two hundred years of independence experienced only nine interstate conflicts. One reason is that almost all its states belonged to the Spanish empire and have a relatively homogeneous cultural background. Border conflicts have been reduced to a minimum, with the serious conflict between Ecuador and Peru the most recent to be settled. Effective regional procedures for conflict resolution and prevention have been institutionalized, notably through the Inter American Treaty of Mutual Assistance and the Organization of American States, both products of the late 1940s. Regional cooperation has been strengthened through economic links and the establishment of MERCOSUR, the Common Market of the South. The new security challenges in Latin America are likely to come from poverty, drug trafficking, aramilitary groups, crime and terrorist violence. Pressure is mounting rom environmental issues and the fundamental lack of political and social planning to sustain equity in economic development and social integration.