It is a very diverse area, geographically, culturally and ethnically, as well as politically. Its people shared the experience of colonization by the European powers from the 15th through the 18th century as well as movements for independence in the 19th century. Although Latin America is very rich in terms of natural resources, its economic potential is still not fully utilized. In many of its countries, there is long-term political instability, which impedes adequate development and is a breeding ground for increased crime. The region particularly suffers from high social inequality, which is responsible for the huge amount of migration from it.