Isthmus

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Central America
And The
Caribbean
Central America
Isthmus – A narrow
strip of land, with water
on both sides, that
connects two larger
bodies of land
Central America’s Geography
Three major landforms in Central America
1. Mountainous Core
•
•
Mountains run down the center of the area
Two climate zones in the core
1.
2.
Spring like year round temperatures (3,000 to 6,000 feet of
elevation)
Cold climates above that
2. Caribbean lowlands
•
•
Eastern side of Central America
Tropical Wet climate
3. Pacific Coastal Plains
•
•
West side of Central America
Savanna Climate with grassland vegetation
Caribbean Islands
Three groups of Islands in the Caribbean
1. Lesser Antilles
•
•
Volcanic Islands
Smaller islands in the southeastern part of the
Caribbean
(Map)
2. Greater Antilles
•
•
Also Volcanic Islands
Larger Islands such as Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti and
Dominican Republic (Map)
3. Bahamas
•
•
Coral Islands
Made from the remains of dead sea animals
(Map)
People of Central America
• Indians
– Mayan empire spread throughout this area
– Largest number live in Guatemala
• Europeans and Mestizos
– Largest European settlement today is in Costa
Rica
– Mestizos mostly live in El Salvador and
Nicaragua
• African Descent
– Came over to work on the banana plantations
and build the Panama Canal
People of the Caribbean
• Colonialism
– Europeans came to profit from the sugar trade
– They brought Africans to be slaves
• Mixture of races
–
–
–
–
Natives
Africans
Europeans (French, British, Danish and Dutch)
Mestizos
Culture of Central America and
the Caribbean
• Central American Culture
– Mostly Spanish speaking
– Roman Catholic
– Most cultural traits are a result of Spanish
Colonialism
• Caribbean Culture
– Culture is based on the Colonizing country
– Large African influence as a result of the slave
trade
Where do they live?
• Caribbean
– Caribbean islands are crowded
– Most live in cities
• Central America
– Most are Farmers
– Live in rural areas
Economy
• Tourism
• Agriculture
– Sugar
– Fruit
• Informal economy
– Street vendors, shoe shiners and many more
– Drug trafficking
• Levels of Society
– Small group of wealthy (mostly descendents of
Europeans)
– Small middle class
– Large lower class
Political Unrest In Central
America
• Causes
– Shortage of available farmland
– Unequal distribution of wealth
– Government mainly serves the interest of the
wealthy
• Nicaragua
– Contras Fighting against the Sandinista
government that favored the wealthy
– In 1990 a new president was elected for the first
time.
Political Unrest In Central
America
• El Salvador
– Wealthy land owners hired death squads to
eliminate their political opponents
– 1992 a peace agreement lead by the UN ended
the war
• Guatemala
– In 1960 a civil war erupted against the
militarily backed dictator
– After the war the military was still a powerful
force in the government
– In 1993 Ramiro de Leon Carpio was elected by
their congress and is a respected leader
Political Unrest In The Caribbean
• Cuba
– 1959 Fidel Castro lead a successful military
revolution
– He has Ruled ever since (I think he is a
hundred)
• Haiti
– 1994 the people overthrew the military dictator
with the help of the U.S.
– Haiti now has a democracy
The End
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