Ch. 8: CENTRAL AMERICA & the CARIBBEAN

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1 Ch. 8: CENTRAL AMERICA & the CARIBBEAN

2 PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY Central America and the Caribbean Landforms Central America has three distinct belts: the Pacific Lowlands, the Caribbean Lowlands, and the Central Highlands. The Isthmus of Panama is another distinctive feature of Central America. More than 7,000 islands are considered part of the mainland's Central Highlands.

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4 PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY Central America and the Caribbean Water Systems Inland lakes and waterways are important to Central America's growth and development, providing transportation, drinking water, irrigation, and hydroelectric power. One of the world's most important human-made waterways, the Panama Canal, allows ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans without having to travel around South America's Cape Horn. Commercial fishing and the use of other marine resources in the Caribbean Sea have increased international trade.

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6 PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY Central America and the Caribbean Climates, Biomes, & Resources Much of Central America has a tropical wet climate with rainforests found in many of the regions. A tropical dry climate is found on many of the Caribbean islands. The climates and ecosystems of some parts of Central America are affected by elevation, resulting in vertical climate zones. Nickel, iron ore, fish, timber, and petroleum are important natural resources found and used throughout Central America.

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8 HUMAN GEOGRAPHY Central America and the Caribbean European Conquests to Independence Christopher Columbus's voyages from 1492 to 1504 brought Spanish colonization. Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Portugal also established colonies, wiping out much of the Native American population. During the 1800s, the fight for independence from European rulers began, resulting in new countries. Today, many Central Americans have demanded positive change in an effort to improve their economies and living conditions.

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10 HUMAN GEOGRAPHY Central America and the Caribbean Population Patterns Populations in this region blend many ethnic groups. Since 1900, the numbers of people migrating away from this region has risen because of the need to escape civil wars, poor economies, and instability. A majority of the Central America population lives in highland cities and towns, while the Caribbean population is highest in Latin America. Despite economic difficulties and low life expectancy, Central America has one of the highest population growth rates in the world.

11 HUMAN GEOGRAPHY Central America and the Caribbean Society and Culture Today A blending of language, traditions, and art is found in Central America and the Caribbean. A majority of people are Roman Catholic, although other religions also exist, such as Protestant, Hinduism, and Islam. The quality of education and health care varies greatly from country to country and from urban to rural areas. Artwork, music, and dance reflect the history of both native and European cultures.

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13 HUMAN GEOGRAPHY Central America and the Caribbean Economic Activities Wealth is unevenly distributed in Central America and the Caribbean, with agriculture employing many of the workers. Many countries in the region are still considered developing countries. Recently, service and technology industries along with ecotourism have grown rapidly.

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15 PEOPLE & THEIR ENVIRONMENT: Central America & the Caribbean Managing Resources Water shortages, access to freshwater, and legal issues over waterways continue to strain the growing population in this region. Hydroelectric power supplies increase production and competitiveness in international trade; however this type of energy threatens the natural environment. Although Central America has naturally fertile soil, slash-and-burn cultivation destroys the fertile land. Commercial logging contributes to deforestation, threatening plants and organisms key to medicines.

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17 PEOPLE & THEIR ENVIRONMENT: Central America & the Caribbean Human Impact Central America and Caribbean cities are experiencing rapid population growth, resulting in pollution, lack of jobs, inadequate housing, and strained food and water supplies. The growing demand for food has increased agriculture and has, in turn, eliminated natural vegetation, leading to soil erosion and the use of fertilizer for crop growth. Increased hotel construction for the tourism industry, has lead to vegetation loss, soil erosion, and the livelihood of coral reefs is greatly threatened.

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19 PEOPLE & THEIR ENVIRONMENT: Central America & the Caribbean Addressing the Issues Solving conflicts over natural resources and natural disaster preparation are challenges facing this region. Deforestation must be addressed quickly; it is predicted that rain forests may disappear within 40 years. Sustainable development and green businesses are solutions that can be more environmentallyfriendly while also boosting local economies. Governments, international agencies, and grass roots groups are implementing programs that limit migration to cities and help to improve cities' infrastructures.

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