Section 1:
The Economy
Patterns of economic
interdependence vary
among the world’s
countries. The economies
of most Latin American
countries still depend on
agriculture, but many of the
region’s countries are trying
to develop their economies
by promoting trade within the
region and with the rest of
the world.
Section 2: People and
Their Environment
Changes occur in the use,
distribution, and
importance of natural
resources. Rapidly
increasing human
populations and consumer
demand for natural resources
place tremendous stress on
these resources and pose
serious challenges for the
preservation of rain forests in
Latin America.
The Economy
Latin America has promoted
economic development through
trade within the region and with
the rest of the world.
Economic Activities
Latin America’s economic development has
been affected by many factors, including
physical geography.
• Latin America struggles with:
– Unevenly distributed farmland between a small
group of wealthy landowners and a much larger
group of campesinos
Share in Total Latin American Exports, 2005
Economic Activities (cont.)
– Economic inequality
– Dependence upon export products, such as
bananas, sugarcane, and coffee
– Industrial growth, which is limited by physical
features such as the Andes
Economic Activity in Latin America
Economic Activities (cont.)
• Positive factors in Latin America:
– Suitable region for growing cash crops
– Many developing countries
– Service industries are diversifying.
Transportation and Communications
Latin American countries are working to
improve transportation and communications
systems necessary for economic
• Latin America’s physical geography affects
transportation and communications.
• Transportation—roads and railroads must often cross
many physical barriers.
Transportation and Communications
• The Pan-American highway is a good road
system, however.
• Some countries have well-developed rail systems.
• Inland waterways are very important.
• Air travel will help as it becomes more affordable.
Transportation Networks
Transportation and Communications
• Communications—Latin America’s communications
networks include newspapers, radio, and television,
but are often censored by governments during
political unrest.
• Internet use is expected to grow rapidly.
Trade and Interdependence
Many Latin American countries developed
their economies by promoting trade and
decreasing foreign debts.
• NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)—
trade among Mexico, the U.S., and Canada
increased 10–15% annually after the agreement was
implemented, but the agreement has been
controversial in general.
Trade and Interdependence (cont.)
• CAFTA (Central American Free Trade
Agreement)—the U.S. and six Central American
countries signed this agreement into law in 2005,
hoping to lower trade barriers.
• Many Latin American countries are still repaying
the debt to foreign banks from funds borrowed in
the ‘60s and ‘70s, which is hindering needed
domestic programs.
Mexican Exports to the United States
People and Their Environment
This section discusses the
importance of natural resources
in Latin America and the
challenges the region faces in
preserving these resources as
human populations,
urbanization, and
industrialization continue to
Managing Resources
Latin America is working to protect the
environment while facing rapid urbanization
and growing human needs.
• The rain forests in Latin America are disappearing as
a result of deforestation.
Managing Resources (cont.)
• The land is being used for:
– Farming
– Ranching
– Timber and other products
Managing Resources (cont.)
• The destruction of rainforests leads to the loss of:
– Biologically rich ecosystems/biodiversity.
– Key medicines and treatments for cancer and
other diseases.
– Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Managing Resources (cont.)
• Helpful actions:
– New methods of farming, mining, and logging
– Conservation
– Responsible tourism
– Reforestation
Human Impact
Rapid urbanization and industrial growth
have placed tremendous stress on available
natural resources in Latin America.
• Problems due to rapid urbanization:
– Insufficient jobs or housing for many people
– Natural disasters can wipe out entire
Human Impact (cont.)
– Unsanitary areas and the spread of disease
– Air pollution
Human Impact (cont.)
• Problems due to industrial growth:
– Air and water pollution
Urban Growth in Latin America
Future Challenges
Latin America faces many international
challenges, including conflicts over natural
resources and preparing for natural
• During the past 150 years, Latin America has faced a
number of territorial conflicts over strategic locations
or rights to valuable natural resources.
Future Challenges (cont.)
• Latin American governments are cooperating in
order to forecast:
– Hurricanes
– Volcanic eruptions
Border Conflicts and Natural Resources
An Open Economy
Latin America has gradually
opened up its economy to
outside investment from
businesses and countries
around the world.
Through the NAFTA and CAFTA
trade agreements, barriers to
trade have been reduced in
Mexico and Central America.
Although opening the market has
brought in many jobs, critics say
many of those jobs are
Many Latin American countries
have also accepted loans that
they are unable to repay, causing
their economies to stagnate.
Population Pressures