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Central America • Panama • Costa Rica • Nicaragua • Honduras • Belize • El Salvador • Guatemala
Common Landforms • Narrow Coastal Plains along the ocean • Rugged mountains in the interior • Rugged terrain makes communication and transportation difficult. • Few long rivers • Active volcanoes
Tectonic Processes • Most Central American mountains are a result of tectonic processes • Plates collide with each other pushing the land upward forming mountains.
Central America found near the tropical latitudes (equator, tropic of cancer) Both wet and dry tropical climates Temperature remains stable throughout the year. Similar to South America climate zones…you have to go up to find cool climate. Coast is warm, humid Interior is cooler highland climate Climate
Map-Tracing Activity • Working alone, use tracing paper to draw a map of Central America. • You must include: • 7 countries with capitol cities • Panama Canal • Gulf of Panama • All oceans and seas
History • Just as in South America, Spanish arrived in Central America in the 1500s • Quickly European diseases, slavery, and war decimated indigenous populations. • Large plantations owned by rich families grew coffee and bananas. • Most Central Americans had no rights or wealth.
Independence • No change for poor Central Americans. • Spanish left in 1820s, but rich families still dominated economy. • Foreign companies from USA, UK replaced Spanish role of colonizers. • Mistreated workers
1900s American companies replace Spanish; economy still dominated by rich families. Many poor choose to immigrate to USA and Europe. 1500s Central America colonized by Spanish 1820s Spanish left, but rich families dominated economy Today: Nothing has changed. Economy dominated by corrupt; most are still poor. Some improvement thanks to international efforts. Immigration to USA continues.
Panama Canal • Built by the USA in early 1900s. • Most important route between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans • USA controlled the canal until 1999.
Lock Canals • Panama Canal is a lock canal.
Culture • Today, Central America’s colonial past continues. • Wealth is controlled by only a few. • Mostly Roman Catholic • Spanish language (except for Belize, English) and many indigenous languages survive
People • Majority are mestizos • Large groups of mulattoes • Small groups of Asians and Africans descended from slaves who worked on plantations • The largest surviving indigenous tribe lives in Guatemala.
European Colonizers Mulattoes Africa Slaves Indigenous People European Colonizers Mestizos
Costa Rica • Costa Rica is an exception • Most Costa Ricans are European decent since few indigenous lived in the area. • Relatively affluent, highest standard of living • History of democracy, education, foreign investment
Economy • Most Central American countries depend on coffee, sugar, cotton, and cacao beans (chocolate) • Influence of American companies is strong. • Majority of Central Americans remain poor.
Political • As populations grow, the need for land reform and rights for poor causes civil unrest. • Many migrate to the USA to escape.
Land Reform: El Salvador, Guatemala & Nicaragua • Rich landowners control most land • Raise crops on large plantations • Poor live on small, subsistence farms • What they don’t eat, they sell at small markets. • Inequalities have fueled civil wars in both countries.
Wealthy own most of the land Population increase puts pressure on food supply Poor don’t have enough land to grow enough food civil unrest and war
Panama • Diverse regions • East: dense forest with few people • Central: dominated by canal-based economy, modern, industrialized • West: rural, large plantations, small farms
Honduras • Rugged mountains/valleys makes transportation difficult • Considered least developed country