Physical Geography of Latin America • The Andes Mountains and the Rocky Mountains are part of the same chain of mountain ranges • There are few open plains in South America • The Amazon River is the longest river in Latin America and 2nd largest in the world! • Christopher Columbus landed on a Caribbean island in 1492 • Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico are part of the Bahamas • Latin America is rich in natural resources but poor in energy resources
Landforms and Resources Llanos
Mountains and Highlands • Andes Mountains – Part of a chain of mountain ranges that run through the western portion of North, Central, and South America. (Rockies in the US, Sierra Madre in Mexico, Andes in South America) • Act as a barrier to movement into the interior. As a result, most settlement in South America has occurred along the eastern and northern coasts. • World’s longest continental mountain chain • Extend through Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela • Many active volcanoes • Inca Empire was located in the Andes Mountains in what is now Peru, Ecuador, and Chile
Inca Ruins at Machu Picchu Built around 1450 during the height of the Incan Empire. Was not discovered till 1911. Since the site was never known to the Spanish during their conquest, it is highly significant as a relatively intact cultural site.
Guiana Highlands • Located in the NE section of South America. Made up of mountainous or hilly sections of a country. • Include parts of Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil • Brazilian Highlands are located along the east coast of Brazil
Plains • Llanos – Columbia and Venezuela. Grassy, treeless areas used for livestock grazing and farming. Similar to the Great Plains!!! • Cerrado Savannas – savannas with flat terrain and moderate rainfall that make them suitable for farming. Undeveloped land. Located in Brazil • Pampas – found in northern Argentina and Uruguay. Main products are cattle and wheat grain. Areas of grasslands and rich soil. GAUCHOS – cowboys of Argentina and Uruguay, wear ponchos.
Rivers • Amazon – flows 4,000 miles from west to east. Starts in the Andes and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Carries more water to the ocean than any other river in the world. • Orinoco River – flows 1,500 along Colombia-Venezuela border, to the Atlantic • Parana River – Begins in highlands of Brazil, travels 3,000 miles south and west through Paraguay and Argentina.
Major Islands • Sometimes called West Indies - these islands were the first encounter of Christopher Columbus in 1492 • Caribbean Islands consist of 3 major groups: • Bahamas – Hundreds of islands off the tip of Florida and north of Cuba. Nassau is the capital, largest city • Great Antilles – Larger islands of Caribbean. Include Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic), and Puerto Rico • Lesser Antilles – Smaller islands. Divided into Windward Islands (face winds that blow across them) and Leeward Islands (sheltered position from the prevailing northeasterly winds).
Latin American Resources • Mineral Resources • Gold, silver, iron, copper, bauxite, tin, lead, and nickel • Energy Resources • Oil, coal, natural gas, uranium and hydroelectric power. • Natural Gas – Trinidad • Mexico and Venezuela – Oil • Brazil – Hydroelectric Power (Amazon River)
Climate and Vegetation • Variety of climate and vegetation is due to several factors: • Latin America spans a great distance on each side of the equator • Big changes in elevation because of the massive mountains in the region • Warm currents of the Atlantic Ocean and the cold currents of the Pacific Ocean affect the climate
Tropical Climate Zones • Tropical Wet and Dry • Primarily in South America, support savannas (grasslands dotted with trees) • Hot climates with seasonal rain • Brazil, Colombia and Argentina • Tropical Wet • Rain Forests – dense forests made up of different species of trees. They form a unique ecosystem – community of plants and animals living in balance. • Climate is hot and rainy year round • Largest forest is Amazon rain forest – covers more than two million square miles of South America, mostly located in Brazil. Roughly the size of the 48 continental states. Largest in the world!!! • Exotic plants and creatures – 2,500 type of trees • Anaconda (largest snake in the world) jaguar, and the piranha (sharp-toothed, meat-eating fish).
Dry Climate Zones • Semiarid • Generally dry, with some rain • Found in Mexico and various countries of South America • Not found in Central America or the Caribbean! • Desert • Parts of northern Mexico are classified as desert • Much of the coast of Chile • Atacama Desert is in northern Chile • Patagonia, Argentina’s southern zone – contains a desert
Mid-Latitude Climate Zones • Humid Subtropical • Rainy winters and hot, humid summers, varied vegetation • Paraguay, Uruguay, southern Brazil, southern Bolivia, northern Argentina (Buenos Aires) • Mediterranean • Similar to climate in California. Hot, dry summers and cool, moist winters • Part of Chile along the west coast • Marine West Coast • Cool, rainy winters and mild, rainy summers • Southwestern South America (Chile and Argentina) Similar to Oregon and Washington • Highlands • Moderate to cold depending on elevation. • Mountains of Mexico and South America
Human-Environment Interaction • The people of Latin America have altered the land through agriculture and urbanization • Tourism is having a growing impact on the environment in Latin America
Agriculture Reshapes the Environment • Native peoples were the first in the Western Hemisphere to change their environment to grow food. • Slash-And-Burn – technique used to clear field; they cut trees, brush, and grasses and burn the debris to clear the field. • Today, farmers practice the same method as they move into the Amazon River basin in Brazil and clear land for farming in the rain forest. • After a few years of using this technique, the soil become exhausted (all the nutrients have been drained from the land). Then they move on and clear a new patch to farm. • Reason why rain forests are shrinking.
Slash-And-Burn Farming • 1st – Farmers cut trees, brush, and grasses to clear a field. • 2nd – They burn the debris and use the ashes to fertilize the soil • 3rd – Farmers plant crops for a year or two, exhausts the soil
Terraced Farming • Ancient technique for growing crops on hillsides or mountain slopes • Step-like horizontal fields are cut into hillsides and slopes, which allow steep land to be cultivated for crops. • Reduces soil erosion • The Incas of Peru and the Aztecs of Mexico used this technique
Urbanization • Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay are the most highly urbanized countries in South America. In these countries 85% of people live in cities • Push Factors – “Push” people to leave rural areas (poor medical care, poor education, low-paying jobs, and ownership of the land by a few rich people). • Pull Factors – “Pull” people toward cities (higher-paying jobs, better schools, and better medical care).
Large Cities • Rio de Janeiro – Brazil • Buenos Aires – Argentina • Lima – Peru • Bogota – Colombia • Santiago – Chile • MEXICO CITY IS THE LARGEST CITY IN LATIN AMERICA
Tourism • Two advantages – Increased local employment and more money is introduced into local economy • Two disadvantages – Congestion and pollution • Also, tourism produces an economic gap between rich tourists and less well-off local residents. This produces resentment and hostility in places such as Jamaica in the Caribbean and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil • Local governments run up large public debts by borrowing money to build tourist facilities
Cultural Geography of Latin America • Native Peoples of Latin America were mostly farmers and hunters who lived in small villages and traded. However, some built impressive monuments and large cities housing tens of thousands of people. These cities were centers for government and religious leaders, craft workers, trades people and scholars. They grew maize, beans, squash, avocado, tomato, and sweet potatoes and domesticated animals.
The Olmec (1200 BC-400 BC) • Lived in eastern and southeastern Mesoamerica (a name we use for areas of Mexico and Central America that were civilized before the Spanish arrived) • Developed extensive trade and were the first people to build religious pyramids in the Americas • They carved colossal stone heads with no metal tools – probably to represent their gods • Greatly influenced later Middle American cultures
The Maya (200 BC-AD 900) • Built a series of city-states in present day Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras – they were often at war with each other • Religion: Polytheistic – believed that gods controlled nature. Each day priests performed (blood-letting) ceremonies to the gods. • Other advancements: architecture (built huge stone pyramids), they used astronomy to develop accurate calendar to tell when to plant crops, mathematics (use of 0) and writing based on hieroglyphics or pictures. • Around 800, Mayan civilization began to decline probably because of invasion, internal revolt or a natural disaster.
The Aztec (AD 1400-Spanish Colonization) • Migrated from northern Mexico, south to present day Mexico City. The capital was Tenochtitlan (built on Lake Texcoco) where they built great pyramids • Religion – polytheistic – they sacrificed thousands of humans a year to their war god. • Educated both boys and girls in history and religion, women could own property, learn skills • Last Aztec ruler was Montezuma– was reluctant to fight the Spanish led by the conquistador (Spanish conqueror) Hernando Cortes. The Spanish conquered the Aztecs in 1521, destroyed Tenochtitlan and built Mexico City on its ruins.
The Inca “Children of the Sun” (AD 1438-Spanish Colonization) • Built an empire in present day Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile – the capital was Cuzco high in the Andes • Farming in the Andes Mountains: they fed a population of 9 million people – by building terraces (TERRACED FARMING) in the mountainsides and using a complex irrigation system. They practiced vertical trade – trading up and down the mountain. • Religion: polytheistic but their chief god was the sun god (Inca means children of the sun). Gold was the sweat of the gods – very important. • They had no written language, spoken language was Quechua. • Last emperor was Atahualpa – he was captured and killed by the conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1532
Mestizos and Mulattos – artisans and business people, number grew over the years • Mestizos – people with both Native American and European ancestors. • Mulattos – people with both African and European ancestors. (There were few women colonists so men often married Native American or Africans). • Native Americans, free blacks, and some very poor landless mestizos and mulattos called peons – laborers and poor peasants. Peons – poor, landless farmers who settled near ranches. Live in extreme poverty. They worked the land for a few wealthy ranchers). • Slaves – considered property but could marry and own property. Planters brought slaves from different parts of Africa so that they would have to learn customs and language of the plantation. Slaves could purchase freedom and some were freed in the wills of the slave owner. Most slaves became Christians some Muslims kept their religion. • Maroon colonies were villages built by escaped slaves – found in Brazil, the Guiana’s, Haiti, and Jamaica. • Faced constant attack by colonial soldiers – planters were particularly worried about these colonies because they set a bad example for their slaves
Peninsulares Creoles Mestizos and Mulattos (Skilled) Peons (Mestizos and Mulattos), Native Americans, free blacks and slaves
Life After Independence • Peninsulares – Spanish born Spaniard residing in the New World • People of Latin America hoped that independence would bring justice and economic opportunity however the social pyramid remained the same • Rich Creoles and military generals replaced colonial governments and peninsulares. The wealth is still in the hands of a few and most people live in poverty • After independence, leaders wrote constitutions modeled after the US however under Spanish rule, colonists had little experience with democracy so people were unfamiliar with how such a system should work (only wealthy men with property could vote) • Caudillos (military leaders that seized power and ruled as dictators) ruled many countries • By the late 1800s most countries became Oligarchies ruled by wealthy landowners, merchants and mine owners • Catholic Church and militaries had a great deal of power
Mexico • 1325 – Aztecs found Tenochtitlan • 1502 – Montezuma becomes Aztec emperor • 1521 – Cortes conquers Aztec empire • 1624 – Viceroy is recalled to Spain after rioting in Mexico City by Indians and others • 1910 – Pancho Villa helps lead the Mexican Revolution • 2000 – Vincente Fox is elected president of Mexico
Colonialism and Independence • Native Americans and the Spanish Conquest • Territory of Mexico was divided into city-states (a city and its surrounding lands functioning as an independent political unit) • Toltecs, Maya (in the Yucatan Peninsula), and the Aztecs • Spanish Conquest – tore apart fabric of native life in Mexico • 1519 – Hernando Cortes and his men landed in Mexico, marched until they reached the Aztec City of Tenochtitlan (site of Mexico City) • 1521 – Cortes and his soldiers conquered the Aztecs
Colony and Country • After the Spanish conquered the Aztecs, Mexico was part of the Spanish empire • Gold and Silver (Mexico’s abundant resources) made it a great prize. • 1821 – Mexico achieves independence from Spain