GWGChapter08

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The Physical Geography
of Latin America
Chapter Focus
Section 1 The Land
Section 2 The Climate and
Vegetation
Chapter Assessment
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Iguaçú Falls, Brazil
Geographic Setting
Latin America is made up of
Mexico, Central America, South
America, and the islandcountries in the Caribbean Sea.
Chapter Objectives
• Describe the dominant landforms of
Latin America. 
• Explain why the climate and
vegetation of Latin America are
diverse.
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the information.
Geographic Themes
• Section 1 The Land
PLACE Towering mountain
ranges, broad plateaus, and rolling
plains are the dominant landforms
of Latin America. 
• Section 2 The Climate and Vegetation
LOCATION Latin America’s vast
territorial expanse–from 33ºN latitude
to 56ºS latitude–makes its climate and
vegetation diverse.
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the information.
The Land
Read to Discover…
• the diverse landforms of Latin America. 
• the abundant natural resources of Latin
America. 
Key Terms
escarpment, llanos, Pampas,
hydroelectric power
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information. Additional lecture notes appear on the following slides.
The Land
Identify and Locate
Middle America, Central America,
South America, Sierra Madre Occidental,
Sierra Madre Oriental, Sierra Madre del Sur,
Andes, Altiplano, Amazon River basin,
Río de la Plata, Amazon River, Rio Grande,
Lake Maracaibo 
Section Objectives
1. Identify the diverse landforms of
Latin America. 
2. Describe the abundant natural
resources of Latin America.
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information. Additional lecture notes appear on the following slides.
Introduction
• People from Spain or Portugal settled
most of Latin America. 
• To this day, Spanish and Portuguese
are the official languages of most of
the countries of the Latin America
region. 
• Because these languages are based
on Latin, the region became known as
Latin America.
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the information.
REGION
The Americas and the Caribbean
• Geographers often divide Latin
America into three areas: 
– Middle America 
– Caribbean 
– South America 
• Middle America consists of Mexico
and Central America’s seven
countries. 
• Central America is the narrow land
link between North and South
America.
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the information.
REGION
The Americas and the Caribbean
• The Caribbean Islands, also known
as the West Indies, fall into three
groups: 
(cont.)
– the Bahamas 
– the Greater Antilles 
– the Lesser Antilles 
• The continent of South America is the
largest land area of Latin America. 
• Containing more than half of all South
American land and people, Brazil is the
largest of the continent’s 13 countries.
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the information.
PLACE
Mountains, Plateaus, and Hills
• Latin America has a diverse physical
geography, from rain forests of the
Amazon River basin to the mountain
chain of the Andes.
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the information.
Mountains
• High mountain ranges cover much of
Latin America. 
• Many exposed peaks of an underwater
mountain range create the Caribbean
islands. 
• In Central America, mountains thread
through much of the interior. 
• Two prominent mountain ranges in
Mexico–the Sierra Madre Occidental and
the Sierra Madre Oriental–meet near
Mexico City to form the Sierra Madre del
Sur.
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the information.
Mountains (cont.)
• In South America, mountains interrupt
the Guiana Highlands–in the northeast–
and the Brazilian Highlands of eastern
Brazil. 
• The eastern edge of the Brazilian
Highlands drops sharply to the Atlantic
Ocean, forming an escarpment, a
slope or long cliff between a higher
and lower surface.
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the information.
Mountains (cont.)
• On the western coast of South
America, the Andes… 
– is the world’s longest mountain chain at
4,500 miles. 
– is the second-highest range in the world. 
• Many people have settled in valleys
that are rich in mineral and soil
resources. 
• Mountain ranges often block
communications, however, thus
isolating regions and peoples.
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the information.
Plateaus and Hills
• Latin America is also a region of large
plateaus, high flatlands often used for
grazing and farming. 
• In Mexico, lodged between the Sierra
Madre Oriental and Sierra Madre
Occidental, is Anáhuac, the densely
populated Mexican Plateau. 
• Among the Andes, in Bolivia and Peru,
is the Altiplano, meaning “high plain.” 
• Farther south, in southern Argentina,
hills and low flatlands form a plateau
area known as Patagonia.
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the information.
PLACE
Plains Areas
• Narrow coastal plains stretch along the
Gulf of Mexico. More plains lie along
the Pacific coastline of South America
and along the Atlantic coastline of
northeastern South America. 
• Cattle have been raised on the large
fertile plain areas called llanos, which
run along the Caribbean coast of South
America. 
• The Amazon River basin is the largest
lowland area of South America.
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the information.
PLACE
Plains Areas (cont.)
• Just south of the Amazon River basin is
the Gran Chaco, a heavily forested
lowland. 
• In direct contrast are the grassy, treeless
plains of Argentina and Uruguay, known
as Pampas.
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the information.
MOVEMENT
Rivers, Lakes, and Waterfalls
• Latin America includes numerous water
systems–extensive rivers and tributaries,
large lakes, and spectacular waterfalls.
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the information.
Rivers
• Most of the major rivers of the region
are in South America. 
• The Amazon, the longest river in the
Western Hemisphere, is the most
extensive river system in South
America and drains much of Brazil
and other nearby lands. 
• The Paraná, Paraguay, and Uruguay
rivers form the second-largest river
system in South America. 
• The Paraguay and Uruguay rivers join
to become Río de la Plata, which
means “river of silver.”
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the information.
Lakes and Waterfalls
• Latin America does not have many
large lakes; however... 
– Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest large
navigable lake. 
– the region’s largest lake, Lake Maracaibo in
Venezuela, contains the most important oil
fields in that country. 
– Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central
America, lies on the border between
Nicaragua and Costa Rica. 
– Angel Falls, in Venezuela, is the world’s
highest uninterrupted waterfall, dropping
3,212 feet.
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the information.
REGION
Natural Resources
• Latin America has significant natural
resources, some not yet utilized.
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the information.
Energy Resources
• Latin American countries are among
the world’s leading producers of oil
and natural gas. 
• Natural gas is extracted in many of the
same areas that produce oil. 
• Coal is found in Colombia, Mexico,
Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Honduras.
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the information.
Energy Resources (cont.)
• Deposits of uranium are located in Brazil
and Argentina. 
• Rivers and waterfalls give many countries
the capacity for hydroelectric power,
the energy of water generating electricity.
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the information.
Mineral Resources
• Latin America is rich in a number of
mineral resources: 
– Bauxite, which is used to make aluminum,
is mined in Jamaica and Guyana. 
– Copper deposits are found in the Atacama
Desert in Chile. 
– Tin reserves are found in Bolivia and
Brazil. 
– Silver is mined in Peru and Mexico.
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the information.
What are the three geographic areas
of Latin America?
The three geographic areas of Latin
America are Middle America, the
Caribbean, and South America.
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the answer.
Why does much of Latin America
have the potential to produce
hydroelectric power?
Many countries have rivers and
waterfalls that can be used to
generate hydroelectric power.
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the answer.
The Climate and Vegetation
Read to Discover…
• the climate regions of Latin America. 
• the kinds of vegetation found in Latin
America. 
Key Terms
tierra caliente, tierra templada, tierra fría,
canopy
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information. Additional lecture notes appear on the following slides.
The Climate and Vegetation
Identify and Locate
Atacama Desert, Climate regions:
Mediterranean, marine west coast, tropical
rain forest, tropical savanna, humid
subtropical, desert, steppe, highland 
Section Objectives
1. Name the climate regions of Latin
America. 
2. Discuss the kinds of vegetation
found in Latin America.
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information. Additional lecture notes appear on the following slides.
Introduction
• Latin America has a wide range of
climates and vegetation, the two being
closely linked. 
• Traveling the region, a person can go
from desert to tropical rain forest, from
subtropical plain to grassy plateau to
barren, cold steppe.
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the information.
Introduction (cont.)
• Other smaller climate regions, such as
in central Chile where the climate is
Mediterranean, or on the lower slopes
of the Chilean Andes, where a marine
west coast climate brings constant
rain and winds, exist throughout the
region.
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the information.
REGION
Climate Regions
• Much of Latin America lies in the low
latitudes–between the Tropic of Cancer
and the Tropic of Capricorn. 
• Much of Latin America has some form
of tropical climate.
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the information.
Tropical Climates
• A tropical rain forest climate of hot
temperatures and abundant rainfall
occurs in southern Mexico, eastern
Central America, the eastern shores of
some Caribbean Islands, and large
parts of South America. 
• Most of Central America and the
Caribbean Islands, however, have a
tropical savanna climate. 
• Tropical savanna areas are hot and
very wet, but not all year round.
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the information.
Humid Subtropical Climate
• A humid subtropical climate of short,
mild winters and long, humid summers
prevails in southeastern South America,
from Rio de Janeiro to northern
Argentina.
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the information.
Desert Climate
• A desert climate of hot and dry
conditions occurs in northern Mexico,
southern and northwestern Argentina,
and the Pacific coastal areas of Peru
and Chile. 
• The Atacama Desert is one of the
driest places in the world. In some
parts of this desert area, no rainfall
has ever been recorded.
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the information.
Steppe Climate
• Some parts of Latin America receive
little rainfall but do not have a desert
climate. 
• Instead, they have a steppe climate of
hot summers, cold winters, and light
rainfall. 
• A steppe climate occurs in… 
– northern Mexico. 
– highland areas in South America near the
Andes. 
– coastal areas of South America.
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the information.
Highland Climates
• Highland climates dominate along the
Sierra Mountains and along the Andes
in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia,
Argentina, and Chile. 
• How warm, cool, or cold an area is
depends on latitude and elevation.
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the information.
Highland Climates (cont.)
• Highland climates are commonly
arranged vertically into three major
zones: 
– Tierra caliente, “hot country,” are lands at
the lowest altitudes (sea level to 3,000 feet
above sea level at or near the Equator). 
– Tierra templada, “temperate country,” are
lands 3,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level. 
– Tierra fría, “cold country,” are lands at the
highest altitude (6,000 to 10,000 feet above
sea level).
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the information.
REGION
Vegetation
• The natural vegetation of Latin America
consists mainly of rain forests and
grasslands.
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the information.
Tropical Rain Forests
• A number of tropical rain forests are
scattered across Latin America, mostly
near the Equator. 
• The largest rain forest, covering about
one-third of South America, is in Brazil in
the Amazon River basin. 
• In the tropical rain forests, the tops of
evergreen trees form a canopy, or
covering, that keeps the sun from
reaching the forest floor. 
• More kinds of trees and species of
animals live in these rain forests than in
any other area of the world.
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the information.
Grasslands and Deserts
• Prairie-like grasses, short and growing
in clumps, grow in the humid
subtropical climates. 
• Because of their rainy seasons, some
grassland areas are covered with
scattered trees. 
• Geographers consider these areas as
transition regions between grasslands
and forests. 
• Few plants grow in desert areas.
What does grow usually consists of
prickly cacti and small bushes.
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the information.
Vertical Climate Zones
• In tropical highland and mountain
areas, the vegetation varies with
elevation. 
• In the hot, wet tierra caliente, lush
vegetation flourishes with crops such
as rice, sugarcane, and cacao. 
• Most people settle in the tierra
templada, where coffee, sugarcane,
fruits, and vegetables are cultivated.
Coffee is the chief crop. 
• Potatoes and barley are grown in the
tierra fría.
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the information.
What kind of climate does Cuba
have?
Cuba has a tropical savanna climate.
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the answer.
How are climate and vegetation in
Latin America affected by elevation
above sea level?
The kind of vegetation in an area
depends on the climate, which in turn
depends on the elevation and latitude
of an area. Elevation and latitude
affect how warm an area is. Areas
grow cooler the farther their location
from the Equator and the higher their
elevation.
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the answer.
Section 1 Summary
• Latin America is made up of Mexico, Central
America, South America, and the Caribbean
Islands. 
• Huge mountain ranges, the largest of which
is the Andes, dominate much of Latin
America, often blocking communications. 
• Large plateaus, used for grazing and
farming, dot the Latin American landscape. 
• Plains areas of Latin America have provided
significant land areas for pastureland,
farmland, and forestland. 
• Most of the major river systems of Latin
America, including the Amazon and the Río
de la Plata, are in South America.
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the information.
Section 2 Summary
• Tropical climates such as tropical rain forest
and tropical savanna are the most common
climates in Latin America. 
• While a subtropical climate brings mild
winters, hot summers, and a short dry
season to grassland areas, other areas have
a desert climate or a steppe climate. 
• One of the most significant features of Latin
America’s climate and vegetation are three
highland zones based on elevation.
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the information.
Section 2 Summary (cont.)
• The natural vegetation of Latin America varies
according to climate and ranges from lush
tropical rain forest evergreens to desert cacti. 
• Among the major natural resources of Latin
America are oil, natural gas, bauxite, tin,
copper, gold, silver, and valuable gems.
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the answer.
The fertile plains in Argentina and
Uruguay are called _______.
Pampas
_______________
Hydroelectric power results from the
use of water to produce electricity.
The fertile plains in Colombia and
Venezuela are called _____.
llanos
In the Brazilian Highlands, low
mountain ranges drop sharply to
the sea to form an _________.
escarpment
Click the mouse button or press the Space Bar to display
the answers.
Lands from 3,000 to 6,000 feet
above sea level are in the zone
called tierra
___________.
templada
Lands at sea level to 3,000 feet
above sea level at or near the
Equator fall in the zone called
__________.
tierra
caliente
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the answers.
Tops of trees in a rain forest form a
______.
canopy
Lands at 6,000 to 10,000 feet
above sea level are in the
_______.
tierra fría
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the answers.
Into what three groups is the West
Indies divided?
The West Indies is divided into the
Bahamas, the Greater Antilles,
and the Lesser Antilles.
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the answer.
What are the eight climate regions
of Latin America?
The eight climate regions are:
1. Mediterranean
2. marine west coast
3. tropical rain forest
4. tropical savanna
5. humid subtropical
6. desert
7. steppe
8. highland
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the answer.
Match the letters on the map
with the places and physical
features of Latin America.
1. Gulf of Mexico
2. Pampas
3. Lake Maracaibo
4. Rio Grande
5. Mexican Plateau
6. Orinoco River
7. Lake Titicaca
8. Hispaniola
9. Caribbean Sea
10. Amazon River
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Space Bar to display the answers.
What are the dominant climate
regions of Brazil?
1. tropical rain forest, tropical savanna,
and humid subtropical
2. desert, steppe, and humid
subtropical
3. desert, highland, and tropical rain
forest
4. desert, highland, and Mediterranean
Click the mouse button or press the Space Bar to display
the answer.
Click a hyperlink to choose a video topic:
South America (overview)
The Atacama
Amazon Basin
The Llanos
STV: World Geography,
Volume 3
South America
• Point to South America on a map. 
• Describe South America’s location using standard map
coordinates. 
• Name the bodies of water and landmasses nearest South
America, and indicate their locations in relation to the continent. 
• Describe and differentiate among the regions of South America
shown in the video. 
• Compare South America to other continents in terms of its size.
Click the mouse button or press the Space Bar to display the information.
STV: World Geography,
Volume 3
South America
Click the Videodisc button
anytime throughout this
section to play the complete
video if you have a videodisc
player attached to your
computer.
Click the Forward button to
view the discussion
questions.
Side 1
Chapter 1
Frames 00001-50061
Click in the above window to show a preview of the National Geographic video.
STV: World Geography,
Volume 3
South America
What climates are found in
South America?
Tropical, subtropical, desert,
steppe, and highland climates are
all found in South America.
Click the mouse button or press the Space Bar to display the answer.
Side 1
Chapter 1
Frames 00001-50061
Click a hyperlink to choose a video topic:
The Atacama
Amazon Basin
The Llanos
STV: World Geography,
Volume 3
South America: The Atacama
• Identify the forces that make the Atacama Desert
the driest place on earth. 
• Explain the impact of Lake Titicaca on life in
the Altiplano.
Click the mouse button or press the Space Bar to display the information.
STV: World Geography,
Volume 3
South America: The Atacama
Click the Videodisc button
anytime throughout this
section to play the complete
video if you have a videodisc
player attached to your
computer.
Click the Forward button to
view the discussion
questions.
Side 1
Chapter 1
Frames 19680–21955
Click in the above window to show a preview of the National Geographic video.
STV: World Geography,
Volume 3
South America: The Atacama
Why is the Atacama Desert the
driest place on earth?
The height of the Andes prevents rainbearing clouds from passing over the
mountains from east to west, resulting
in desert conditions on the western
side of the central Andes.
Click the mouse button or press the Space Bar to display the answer.
Side 1
Chapter 1
Frames 19680–21955
STV: World Geography,
Volume 3
South America:
Amazon Basin
• Map the extent of the Amazon River basin and
other river systems of South America. 
• Describe the ecological abundance of the
Amazon basin. 
• Explain how the Amazon River basin supports
life.
Click the mouse button or press the Space Bar to display the information.
STV: World Geography,
Volume 3
South America:
Amazon Basin
Click the Videodisc button
anytime throughout this
section to play the complete
video if you have a videodisc
player attached to your
computer.
Click the Forward button to
view the discussion
questions.
Side 1
Chapter 1
Frames 32121-43167
Click in the above window to show a preview of the National Geographic video.
STV: World Geography,
Volume 3
South America:
Amazon Basin
Describe the ecological
abundance of the Amazon basin.
It is the most diverse and abundant
environment on earth. Scientists
believe that one-third of all of the
earth’s species live there.
Click the mouse button or press the Space Bar to display the answer.
Side 1
Chapter 1
Frames 32121-43167
STV: World Geography,
Volume 3
South America: The Llanos
• Understand that South America is a land of
diverse climates.
Click the mouse button or press the Space Bar to display the information.
STV: World Geography,
Volume 3
South America: The Llanos
Click the Videodisc button
anytime throughout this
section to play the complete
video if you have a videodisc
player attached to your
computer.
Click the Forward button to
view the discussion
questions.
Side 1
Chapter 1
Frames 8105-9955
Click in the above window to show a preview of the National Geographic video.
STV: World Geography,
Volume 3
South America: The Llanos
What climate classification does
the Llanos fit into?
The Llanos fits into a tropical
savanna climate–warm all year but
with definite dry and wet seasons.
Click the mouse button or press the Space Bar to display the answer.
Side 1
Chapter 1
Frames 8105-9955
Map and Graph Skills
Reading a Relief Map
After listening to the introduction, take a few
moments to read “Reviewing the Skill”
on page 170 in your textbook.
Use the relief map to answer the following questions:
What country is highlighted
on the map?
Peru
What is the elevation of the
green areas on the map?
under 1,000 feet
Click the mouse button or press the
Space Bar to display the answers.
Use the relief map to answer the following questions:
What elevation on the
map does the color
orange represent?
5,000–10,000 feet
What color is used to show
the highest elevations on
the map? How many feet
high are these areas?
white; over
10,000 feet
Click the mouse button or press the
Space Bar to display the answers.
Use the MindJogger videoquiz as a preview,
review, or both.
Click the Videodisc button to play the
MindJogger video if you have a
videodisc player attached to your
computer.
Disc 1
Side B
Chapter 8
If you experience difficulties, check the
Troubleshooting section in the Help
system.
Explore online information about the
topics introduced in this chapter.
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http://www.glencoe.com/geography/cyberlinks
Explore online news resources to find
out what is currently happening in the
United States and around the world.
Click on the Connect button to launch your browser and go to the
Glencoe Current Events Web site. At this site, you will find
numerous links to different news agencies. When you finish
exploring, exit the browser program to return to this presentation.
If you experience difficulty connecting to the Web site, manually
launch your Web browser and go to
http://www.glencoe.com/sec/socialstudies/currentevents
To what climate region does the following
rebus refer?
–S=
Desert
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