Chapter 8


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Chapter 8

  1. 1. Central America & the Caribbean
  2. 2. Physical Geography
  3. 3. Physical Features Sandy beaches, volcanic mts., rain forests, & clear blue water
  4. 4. 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
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6.  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
  7. 7. 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
  8. 8. 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
  9. 9. Central America
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. 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
  12. 12.  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
  13. 13. 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
  14. 14. 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
  15. 15. 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
  16. 16. 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)
  17. 17. 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
  18. 18. 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
  19. 19. 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
  20. 20. 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
  21. 21. 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
  22. 22. 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
  23. 23. The Caribbean Islands
  24. 24. 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
  25. 25. 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
  26. 26. 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
  27. 27. 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
  28. 28. The Caribbean Islands Today Have similar history & culture Economies differ as well as gov’t & cultural landscapes
  29. 29. 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.
  30. 30. 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
  31. 31. 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
  32. 32. 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.
  33. 33. 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