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What is the difference between "oeste" and "occidente"?
Do they both mean the direction and the region?

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Oeste is the cardinal point meaning West. Occidente is a synonym for Oeste meaning sunset, referring to the point where the sun sets, "por donde el sol se oculta". Nowadays, Occidente is a term used for "Western World".

The opposite for Occidente is "Oriente", for "origen", the place where the sun appears. In English, there is the same word "Orient" and is used for East, being the Eastern Culture, like Oriente Próximo (Near East), Oriente Medio (Middle East) and Lejano Oriente (Far East).

So, you see that for the direction, we use "Oeste" and "Este". For the region or area, we use "Occidente" and "Oriente".

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  • @JouSauron: ya veo. Gracias. – user468 Jul 7 '12 at 14:50
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    I also see levante (E) and poniente (W) used to denote different parts of towns. (eastern Spain - Valencia region). Note that these are nouns whereas oeste / este can be used as adjectives western / eastern – BrianA Jul 7 '12 at 17:00
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    Yes, but I didn't add these because they are a little bit offtopic. In Spain, Levante is usually Valencia region, though it can also be the Mediterranean Levant: Near East. Levant/levante means "rising", where the sun rises (East). Poniente "setting", where the sun sets (West). – JoulSauron Jul 7 '12 at 17:54
  • In Chile use "oriente/poniente" to talk about local guidelines, for example, neighborhoods with respect to the center of town. We use "occidente" only for global locations, for example, countries. We never say "levante". – Rodrigo Nov 25 '14 at 0:46

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