Mrs. Reifsnyder World Geography. Unit 8: Latin America Study Guide SOLs Addressed: WG. 1c, 2b, 3c, 4, 10b/c

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1 Mrs. Reifsnyder World Geography Unit 8: Latin America Study Guide SOLs Addressed: WG. 1c, 2b, 3c, 4, 10b/c Essential Questions: - In what ways do physical, economic, and cultural characteristics influence regional development? - What are some ways that human interaction with the environment affects the development of a region? - What are some criteria that may be used to determine a country s relative importance? - What impact do elements of the physical environment, such as major bodies of water and mountains, have on countries in a region? Essential Understandings/Knowledge: Physical Locations, Features, and Climate Caribbean/Central American Countries: Central American Water bodies 1. Mexico 9. Cuba 1. Caribbean Sea 2. Belize 10. Haiti 2. Gulf of Mexico 3. Guatemala 11. Jamaica 3. Atlantic Ocean 4. El Salvador 12. Dominican Republic 5. Honduras 13. Puerto Rico (U.S.) Major Cities 6. Nicaragua 1. Mexico City 7. Costa Rica 8. Panama Physical Features 1. Sierra Madres (mountains)

2 South American Countries Water Bodies Major Cities 1. Colombia 8. Bolivia 1. Pacific Ocean 1. Rio de Janeiro 2. Venezuela 9. Brazil 2. Atlantic Ocean 2. Buenos Aires 3. Guyana 10. Paraguay 3. Santiago 4. Suriname 11. Argentina 5. French Guiana 12. Uruguay 6. Ecuador 13. Chile 7. Peru Other: 1. Andes Mountains 4. Patagonian Pampas (extensive treeless plains) 2. Amazon Rainforest 5. Los Llanos (the plains) 3. Atacama Desert (west coast of Chile) 6. Amazon River and Basin Vertical Zonation of Latin America 1) Tierra caliente Spanish term for hot land; the lowest elevation zone of Latin America; usually experiences hot climate. 2) Tierra templada Spanish term for temperate land; the elevation zone in the middle; usually experiences mild climate 3) Tierra fria Spanish term for cold climate; the highest elevation zone of Latin America; usually experiences a cold climate

3 Physical Characteristics 1) Most of the region experiences tropical climates because of the location of the equator through South America. 2) Wildlife migration patterns are significant from North America to South America (e.g. Monarch butterflies the only known butterflies to migrate, some monarchs fly as many as 3,000 miles to reach their winter home in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico). 3) The area directly on the equator has a tropical rain forest climate. This rain forest is the largest in the world. It is the Amazon Rain Forest and it sits in the Amazon River Basin. 4) The area on the outskirts of the rainforest has a tropical wet and dry (savanna) climate. 5) The seasons south of the equator are the reverse of seasons north of the equator. 6) The western coast of South America experiences a dry climate. This desert is called the Atacama Desert. 7) Two areas of grasslands are the pampas and the llanos. 8) There are numerous island chains in the Caribbean Sea. An island chain is called an archipelago. 9) The western side of Latin America is part of the Ring of Fire that encircles the Pacific Rim. Therefore, this part of the region experiences volcanoes and earthquakes. 10) The Rio Grande River forms part of the boundary between Mexico and the United States (impact of physical elements). Economic and Political Characteristics There are many diverse economies in the region. Farming Farming continues to make up a large part of the Latin American economy. 1) Because much of the region is developing, subsistence farming is the dominant economic activity. This type of farming consists of raising just enough food to stay alive. The types of crops raised are food crops, harvested mostly for use by the families who grow them. 2) In the mountainous regions, farming is practiced by carving steps out of the mountainside. This is called agricultural terrace farming (agricultural terracing). It is very common in the Andes Mountains. 3) In the rainforest areas, poor farmers are cutting down the forests (deforestation) and burning off the vegetation. This is called slash and burn agriculture. Unfortunately, the soil is not very fertile and farmers are usually able to farm a piece of land for only a few years before moving to another location and starting the process all over. 4) The hacienda is a large farming or ranching estate in Latin America. 5) There are large companies that own land and have huge farms or plantations. This is called plantation agriculture. These types of farms grow cash crops to be sold for a profit. 6) In the grasslands regions, llanos and pampas, cattle are raised on cattle ranges. The cowboys that work the ranges are called gauchos. 7) In Mexico, large communally owned farms are operated by the community residents These farms are called ejidos. Other Economic Activity/Environmental Challenges 1) There is a wide range of income levels in Latin America. This is called disparity of income distribution. 2) The Panama Canal runs through the Isthmus of Panama and connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. It is a major trade route. 3) In Mexico, many people are migrating to Mexico City (urbanization). They are looking for a better place to live where they can find jobs and housing and have access to education and health care.

4 Unfortunately, most live in squalid conditions on the outskirts of the city in squatter settlements known as shantytowns. This is a common occurrence in numerous large Latin American megacities. 4) Mexico City has an enormous pollution problem. The city has a haze of smoke and fog called smog that hangs over the city. 5) The Amazon Rain Forest (Amazon Basin) is being cut down at an alarming rate. The depletion of forest resources is called deforestation (an example of human- environment interaction). 6) Oil resources are found in three Latin American countries: Mexico, Ecuador, and Venezuela 7) Latin America has a diverse range of mineral resources. Examples are copper, which is common in Chile, and iron ore in Venezuela and Brazil. 8) The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is an economic alliance created in 1989 that reduces trade barriers between Mexico, Canada, and the United States. 9) The Organization of American States (OAS) is a political organization made up of countries from the western hemisphere that works for peace and democracy. 10) Brazil moved its capital city from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia to encourage economic development in the country s interior. Cultural Characteristics Language and Religion 1) Most of the people in Latin America (the Hispanic world) speak Spanish. An exception is Brazil. The official language of Brazil is Portuguese. 2) The dominant religion in Latin America is Roman Catholic. The Europeans brought this religion to the region. It is a branch of Christianity. History 1) There are three main Indian (Native American) civilizations that existed in Latin America. a. Aztec area around Mexico city in present day Mexico; built elaborate pyramids b. Maya from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico into Central America; famous site is Tikal in Central America; also built elaborate pyramids. c. Inca along the Andes Mountains of South America; famous site is Machu Picchu in Andes Mountains in the country of Peru. 2) The Spanish and the Portuguese were the two main European powers that colonized the region. The effects of colonization are still present in many ways, such as language, customs, music, religion, etc. 3) The Europeans brought Africans into the region and enslaved them. Many African influences are still evident in the region today. 4) Many of the people of European ancestry intermingled with the native peoples (Indians) or with African slaves. People of mixed Indian and European ancestry are called mestizos. Culture Today 1) There is a very rigid social structure in Latin America. 2) In South America, the most populated region is along the coast. This is often called the populated rim of South America. 3) The large cities of Latin America are called megacities. The poor people living in these cities tend to live in squatter settlements on the outskirts of the cities. 4) There is a rapid population growth rate in Latin America. The region tends to have a population pyramid that is shaped like a triangle or pyramid. This indicates that a large percentage of the population is 15 years of age or younger.

5 5) There is a trend for many Latin Americans to move to other regions of the world. This is called out-migration (emigration). 6) Examples of cultural heritage today: a. Music African influences including calypso, steel drum bands, and reggae b. Dance traditional dances 7) Examples of cultural landscapes: a. Pyramids created by both the Aztecs and the Mayas b. Cathedrals built by Europeans who migrated here and many Roman Catholic descendants

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