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 Tourism Agriculture 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
Early250 A.D. History 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 1500s 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 SinceIndependence 1821 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 1960-1996 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 1980s 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 1979 A group called the Sandinistas overthrew a dictator Many supported this group, but rebel forces (aided by U.S.) fought Sandinistas for power 1990 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 1914 Panama Canal was built by U.S. as a link from Pacific Ocean to Caribbean Sea U.S. controlled canal until 1999
Early History 1492 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 Toussaint-L’Ouverture Led a slave revolt Helped Haiti win independence from France in 1804 Idea of independence spread Mid-1800s 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 Curry
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 & most populous in Caribbean Largest 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 Today 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 Jamaica 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
A particular slide catching your eye?
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.