The United States emerged from World War II as one of the world’s two superpowers. Reluctantly, it remained deeply involved in international affairs and, as its Cold War confrontation with the Soviet Union intensified, directed much of its energy toward combating the spread of communism throughout the world. Internally, Americans turned their attention to continuing the prewar recovery from the Great Depression. American prosperity reached new proportions in the two decades after World War II, but a series of nagging economic and social problems—including racial divisions and pockets of chronic poverty—showed that the American dream still did not apply to everyone. The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Empire briefly raised hopes of the emergence of a new world order, but as the world entered the twentyfirst century, the rise of militant terrorism raised the specter of a new era of international instability. To the south of the United States lay the vast world of Latin America with its own unique heritage. Although there were some welcome signs during the last years of the twentieth century that military regimes were being replaced by governments elected by democratic procedures, most of the nations in the region continued to struggle with economic and political instability, and suspicion of the United States for seeking to dominate the hemisphere continued.