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  • Chapter 8
    Central America & the Caribbean
  • Section 1
    Physical Geography
  • Physical Features
    Sandy beaches, volcanic mts., rain forests, & clear blue water
  • Central America
    Actually the southern part of North America
    7 countries
    Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, & Panama
    Is an isthmus
    Narrow strip of land that connects two larger land areas
    Not more than 125 miles from Pacific Ocean to Caribbean Sea
    Chain of mts. & volcanoes separate Pacific & Caribbean coastal plains
    Has a few short rivers
    Rugged land & lack of water routes makes travel difficult
  • Caribbean Islands
    Comprised of hundreds of islands
    Make up an archipelago or large group of islands
    Divide Caribbean Sea from Atlantic Ocean
    Two main island groups
    Greater Antilles (4 large islands): Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, & Puerto Rico
    Lesser Antilles: other smaller islands; stretch from Virgin Islands to Trinidad and Tobago
    Bahamas: 3rd group of islands; includes 700 islands & thousands of reefs
  • Many islands are the tops of underwater mts. & volcanoes
    Some began as coral reefs that gradually pushed up
    Tectonic plates have also created some of the islands
    Earthquakes & volcanic eruptions occur frequently
  • Climate & Vegetation
    Both areas are generally sunny & warm
    Humid tropical & tropical savanna climates are common
    Along Pacific coast original savanna vegetation has been cleared & replaced w/ plantations & ranches
    Caribbean coast has areas of tropical rain forest
    Inland mt. areas contain cool, humid climates
    Cloud forests: a moist, high elevation tropical forest where low clouds are common
    Temps generally do not change much from day to night or from summer to winter
    Change is marked by rainfall
    winters = dry
    summers = rains daily
    summer to fall = hurricane season
  • Resources
    Land & climate are best resources
    Profitable where volcanic ash has enriched the soil
    Coffee, bananas, sugarcane, & cotton
    Timber exported form rain forests
    Few mineral resources
    Energy resources also limited
    Rely on energy imports
    Limits devlopment
  • Section 2
    Central America
  • Early History
    A.D. 250
    Maya were building large cities w/ pyramids & temples
    Abandoned cities around A.D. 900, but ruins remain today
    People of Maya descent still live in Guatemala & Belize & customs still influence modern life
    Europeans control
    Claimed mostly by Spain
    Est. plantations & grew tobacco & sugarcane
    Made Indians work on plantations & gold mines
    Enslaved Africans also brought to region
    Britain claimed Belize & part of Nicaragua
  • Central America Since Independence
    Colonies declared independence
    Region remained together as United Provinces of Central America
    Separated in 1838-1839
    Panama remained part of Colombia until 1903
    Belize remained part of Britain 1981
    Independence brought little change
    Wealthy landowners continued to run the countries & the economies
    Bananas & coffee supported economy
  • Mid-1900s
    U.S. based United Fruit Company developed railroads & port facilities to help its business in Central America
    This helped w/ transportation & communication in region
    Many people resented foreign companies for owning so much while others struggled to make a living
    Led to armed struggles in many countries
  • Culture
    Influenced by colonial history
    Reflect Spanish and native practices
    People and Languages
    Most people are mestizos (of mixed European and Indian ancestry)
    Mostly live in places like the Guatemalan Highlands
    African ancestry
    Live mostly along Caribbean coast
    In some countries native Indian languages are still spoken
    English & Spanish are main languages spoken
  • Religion, Festivals, & Food
    Many practice a religion brought by Europeans
    Roman Catholic & Protestant Christians
    Religion has influenced celebrations in towns
    Celebrate special saints’ feast days; Easter
    During festivals people eat traditional foods
    Corn, tomatoes, hot peppers, and cacao
  • Central America Today
    Have similar histories and cultures
    Have own economic & political challenges
    2005 Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, el Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, & Nicaragua signed Central American Free Trade Agreement with U.S.
    Goal is to increase trade among countries
  • Guatemala
    Most populous (12 million people)
    Although most are mestizos, half are Central American Indians & speak Maya languages
    Most live in small villages in the highlands
    Fighting between rebels and gov’t forces (200,000 people were killed)
    Still recovering from conflict
    Coffee grown in highlands
    Major producer of cardamom (spice used in Asian foods)
  • Belize
    Smallest population
    Not much land for agriculture
    Ecotourism has become popular
    Practice of using an area’s natural environment to attract tourists
    Come to see coral reefs, Maya ruins, & coastal resorts
  • Honduras
    Mountainous country
    Most people live in mt. valleys & along northern coast
    Rugged land makes transportation difficult
    Little land to grow crops
    Bananas & citrus fruits are important exports
  • El Salvador
    A few rich families own much of the best land while most people live in poverty
    Civil war resulted from land disputes
    Many people were killed & economy suffered
    People are working to rebuild their country since end of civil war in 1992
    Country has fertile soil
    Grow & export coffee and sugarcane
  • Nicaragua
    Rebuilding after civil war
    A group called the Sandinistas overthrew a dictator
    Many supported this group, but rebel forces (aided by U.S.) fought Sandinistas for power
    Civil war ended w/ elections
    Now a democracy
  • Costa Rica
    Has a history of peace
    Has stable, democratic gov’t
    Does not have an army
    Progress made in reducing poverty
    Coffee & bananas are important to economy
    Tourism also important
  • Panama
    Most people live near Panama Canal
    Canal fees & local industries make area most prosperous in country
    Panama Canal was built by U.S. as a link from Pacific Ocean to Caribbean Sea
    U.S. controlled canal until 1999
  • Section 3
    The Caribbean Islands
  • Early History
    Columbus sailed for Spain & was 1st to sail into Caribbean Sea
    Thought he had reached the Indies
    Called islands the West Indies & people Indians
    Spain had little interest in smaller islands
    English, French, Dutch, & Danish did
    Est. colonies & built huge sugarcane plantations
    Most Caribbean Indians had died from disease so African slaves were brought in to work plantations
    Soon Africans & people of African descent outnumbered Europeans on many islands
  • Independence
    Led a slave revolt
    Helped Haiti win independence from France in 1804
    Idea of independence spread
    Dominican Republic gained independence
    U.S. won Cuba from Spain
    Cuba gained independence in 1902
    Other countries had to wait about 40 years for independence
    After WWII; Europeans transferred political power peacefully
    Some are still not independent
    Some are provinces or territories of other countries
  • Culture
    Signs of past colonialism & slavery
    People, Languages, & Religion
    Most people are descended from Europeans or from African slaves
    Or a mixture
    Spanish, French, English, or European and African languages
    Creole: spoken by Haitians; a dialect or a regional variety of a language
    Catholic, blend of Catholicism and traditional African religions
  • Festivals and Food
    Variety of holidays celebrated
    Carnival: time of feasts & celebration before Lent
    Often include great music
    Food & cooking also reflects past
    Food from Africa like yams & okra
  • The Caribbean Islands Today
    Have similar history & culture
    Economies differ as well as gov’t & cultural landscapes
  • Puerto Rico
    Was a Spanish colony
    Today U.S. commonwealth
    self-governing territory associated w/ another country
    Are U.S. citizens, but no voting representation in Congress
    Debate to remain commonwealth or U.S. state or independent country
    U.S. aid & investment have helped develop economy
    Wages are lower & unemployment is higher than in U.S.
  • Haiti
    Mountainous western third of island of Hispaniola
    Has limited industry
    Agricultural products like coffee and sugarcane are main exports
    Most farm small plots of land
    Is the poorest country in the Americas
    Has had corrupt gov’t
    Violence, political unrest, & poverty have created many political refugees
    Someone who flees to another country, usually for political or economic resasons
  • Dominican Republic
    Occupies eastern half of Hispaniola
    Capital of Santo Domingo was the 1st permanent European settlement in the Western Hemisphere
    Not a rich country
    Economy, health care, & housing are more developed than Haiti
    Agriculture is basis of economy
    Tourism is growing
  • Cuba
    Largest & most populous in Caribbean
    92 miles from Florida
    Run by Communist since 1959 when Fidel Castro came to power
    Took over banks, plantations, & other businesses (many owned by U.S. companies)
    U.S. banned trade with Cuba & restricted travel there by U.S. citizens
    Gov’t still controls economy
    Farms are organizes as cooperatives or gov’t owned plantations
    Cooperative: an organization owned by its members and operated for their mutual benefit
    Gov’t also controls all newspapers, television, and radio stations
    Some support gov’t policies & other have become refugees in the U.S.
  • Other Islands
    Largest remaining Caribbean country
    Saint Kitts and Nevis
    Smallest country
    Many are not countries but territories
    U.S. & British Virgin Islands
    Netherlands and France also have territories
    Some islands have enough land to grow coffee, sugarcane, or spices
    Most economies are based on tourism
    Good for economy, but sometimes harms environment