Published on April 13, 2008
Latin America: Latin America Latin America is the region of the Americas where Romance languages, those derived from Latin (particularly Spanish and Portuguese), are primarily spoken. Latin America is contrasted with Anglo-America, the region of the Americas where English predominates. Latin America: Latin America Themes in this Lecture: Themes in this Lecture Spanish and Portuguese colonial impacts on human geography Tropical, Southern Hemisphere, Maritime, and mountain natural environments Six Regions Mexico Central America The Caribbean Basin and Environs Northern Andes Brazil Southern South America Study Questions: Study Questions 10 A: p443 10 B: p455 10C: 478 10 D: 489 10 E: 498 Outline of Lecture: Outline of Lecture Geographic Contrasts Regional Cultural History Natural Environment Global and Local Changes The Subregions Geographic Contrasts: Geographic Contrasts Brazil (184 million) Mexico (107 million) vs Caribbean basin countries with fewer than 100,000 people. High /low income Dependence on single economic product vs diverse and integrated economic base Involvement in/isolation from global economic system The second highest mountain range in the world (Andes Mountains) vs the huge, low-lying basins of the world’s largest river system (the Amazon River) The earth’s largest tropical rain forest (the Amazon Tropical Rain Forest) vs the world’s driest deserts (The Atacoma Desert) Urban (The Sao Paulo and Mexico city with 20 million people) vs Rural Regional Cultural History: Regional Cultural History Pre-European Peoples Spanish Colonization Pre-European PeoplesThe Lasting Influence of the Maya, Aztec, and the Inca: Pre-European Peoples The Lasting Influence of the Maya, Aztec, and the Inca Maya civilization: Maya civilization The geographic extent of the Maya civilization, known as the Maya area, extended throughout the southern Mexican states. The Maya area also extended throughout the northern Central American region, including the present-day nations of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and western Honduras Pre-European Peoples(Spanish Colonization): Pre-European Peoples (Spanish Colonization) Spanish Control: Spanish Control Portuguese Colonization Other European Colonies Independence Continuing External Influences Portuguese Colonization: Portuguese Colonization Portuguese colonial efforts in Brazil moved at a slower pace than Spanish efforts in the region. The city of Salvador became the first capital and northeastern hub of Portuguese Brazil while Sao Paulo was established much farther south to solidify Portuguese territorial claims. In the 1600s the discovery of gold inland of Rio De Janeiro led to increased Portuguese immigration. The Portuguese process of occupying Brazil resembled that of Spain in its colonies Colonial Brazil was economically and socially controlled by an elite class who purchased or captured millions of African slaves and transported them across the Atlantic to work on large sugar plantations along the northeastern coast Other European Colonies: Other European Colonies Continuing External Influences: Continuing External Influences The economic depression of US and Europe in 1930s and WWII in the 40s significantly disrupted trade and economic activity for Latin America. The countries of region established the goal of becoming less dependent on selling unprocessed or unrefined raw materials in exchange for high-priced manufactured good from industrial countries.. Under import substitution, Latin American countries attempted to use their raw materials in their own internal production of various manufactures for domestic markets. By the 1970s this policy contributed to the rapid growth of one or two major urban centers in each country. Because of their larger home markets, the most populous countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico) produced the most under this system. Natural Environment: Natural Environment Tropical and Southern Hemisphere High Mountains and Islands Chains Broad Plateaus Natural Vegetation Natural Resources Environmental Problems Tropical and Southern Hemisphere: Tropical and Southern Hemisphere Middle America and Southern Hemisphere Climates Nearly all of Middle America (Mexico, Central America, and The Caribbean Basin) lies within the tropics. (consist warmth and humidity with the temperatures 30 C (86F) through most of the year) Most rain fall in the summer and fall when heating of the lower atmosphere causes humid air to rise, cool, and condense into clouds. Middle America is also a region of annual hurricane activity. Northern South America All the Northern Andean countries lie within the tropics. Humid air-flow from the Atlantic Ocean into the Amazon River Basin carries intense rains far westward across the continent to the east-facing slopes of the Andes. Northern Brazil experiences an equatorial climate in which the temperatures hover in the low 30s’C (80s F), humidity is high, and rain falls in all seasons Tropical and Southern Hemisphere: Tropical and Southern Hemisphere El Nino The major 1997-1998 El Nino event brought drought to parts of Middle America and northern South America, and exceptionally heavy rains to the deserts of Peru and Chile. This El Nino event was the largest since 1982-1983, and its impacts on people’s lives in Latin America were diverse. Some areas enjoyed advantages such as freshwater reservoir replenishment and a prolonged winter ski season due to increased snow depth on the Chilean Andes. Many outcome were negative. Droughts caused lower farm yields in Central America and northern South America, while floods destroyed crops in Argentina and Uruguay and washed out roads in Ecuador and Peru. Southern South America The climates of Southern South America range from arid regions in northern Chile and parts of Argentina to one of the world’s stormiest, wettest regions in southern Chile. In northern Chile, the Atacama Desert continues the Peruvian Desert southward between the high Andes and the cold Peruvian currents In Southern Chile, by contrast the midlatitude westerly winds brings precipitation and high winds at all seasons of the year High Mountains and Islands Chains: High Mountains and Islands Chains Insular and Mainland Middle America Mainland Middle America is formed of two relief provinces: High-altitude plateau lands between the Eastern and Western Sierra Madres dominate northern Mexico. (the collision of the North America and Cocos) and s single spine of mountians along and parallel to the Pacific coast (collision of the Caribbean plate with the Cocos plate). Middle America is subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions where tectonic plates collide. Insular Middle America is also affected by the clashes of tectonic plates. The North American plate drove into the Caribbean plate, producing intense volcanic activity along the plate margin and forming the Lesser Antilles arc. High Mountains and Islands Chains: High Mountains and Islands Chains Andes Mountains The Andes Mountains affect all aspects of the physical environment of Western South America. The collision of the South America and Nazca plates produced a volcanic and earthquake-prone. Western mountain range and a folded and faulted eastern range. The Andes rise to over 6.500 m (20,000 ft) in Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Ecuador. In Colombia, the Andean ranges splay out northward into three cordilleras-the Occidental, Central, and Oriental. The southern Andes Mountains dominate the landscapes of Chile and the western parts of Argentina, with their highest points constituting the border between the two countries for most of its length. Broad Plateaus: Broad Plateaus Broad plateaus and wide valleys dominate Brazil’s physical environment. Locally, relief is sharp near physical transition zones, as when one travels from the coast to the first plateau level or from one plateau level to the next. More generally, the traveler in Brazil is struck by small differences in the elevation over great distances. Major River Basins: Major River Basins Natural Vegetation: Natural Vegetation The world’s largest expanse of tropical rain forest covers most of the Amazon River basin and extends along the eastern coastal lowlands of Brazil to the Tropic of Capricorn. Map of the Amazon rainforest ecoregions as delineated by the WWF.(World Wide Fund for Nature) Yellow line encloses the Amazon rainforest. National boundaries shown in black. Natural Resources: Natural Resources Environmental Problems: Environmental Problems Soil erosion Soil erosion is a major problem in many countries of Latin America, especially where increasing populations place additional pressure on subsistence lands. Small Caribbean islands colonized for intensive commercial agriculture became notoriously prone to soil erosion and other forms of environmental degradation. Air and Water Pollution Air and water pollution results from mineral extraction and refining, and from the concentration of human activities in urban areas. Mexico City suffers more than any other metropolitan area in Latin America from air pollution. (densely populated urban center situated in a bowl-shaped depression known as the Central Valley of Mexico) Global and Local Changes: Global and Local Changes The United States and Latin America Financial Dependence Political Change and the Global Economy Global Cities Regional Links Population Pressure The United States and Latin America: The United States and Latin America Monroe Doctrine The Monroe Doctrine is a U.S. doctrine which, on December 2, 1823, proclaimed that European powers would no longer colonize or interfere with the affairs of the newly independent nations of the Americas. The United States planned to stay neutral in wars between European powers and their colonies. However, if later on, these types of wars were to occur in the Americas, the United States would view such action as hostile. President James Monroe first stated the doctrine during his seventh annual State of the Union Address to Congress, a defining moment in the foreign policy of the United States. Financial Dependence: Financial Dependence With the rising of oil prices of Middle East in 1970s, The petrodollars (a U.S. dollar earned by a country through the sale of petroleum ) were urged on Latin Americans countries in the form of loans. Such loans were used to pay for oil imports in the nonproducing countries and major infrastructure projects in producing countries such as Brazil, Mexico, and to improve some government official’s overseas bank accounts. The recession in the more materially wealthy countries caused by the high oil prices led to weakened markets for products from Latin America and much higher interest rates on the loans. The combination of debts and falling export income caused many Latin American countries to default on debt payments by the mid-1980s, resulting in the 1980s distinction as the Lost Decade. Political Change and the Global Economy: Political Change and the Global Economy Economic giant, Brazil vs materially impoverished countries such as Honduras Elected governments came to power everywhere (except Cuba), and emphasis shifted from inward-looking policies to the need for cooperation. The old policy of “protectionism, involved high levels of government intervention, was replaced by structural adjustment, encouraging less government spending, more foreign investment and more exporting industries. The new policies also opened markets to foreign products and privatized government corporations. This structural adjustment policies were partly forced on Latin American countries as a means of reducing debt burdens incurred during the 1970s and 1980s. Global Cities—Mexico City & Sao Paulo: Global Cities—Mexico City & Sao Paulo Both cities have populations of 18 million people. Extensive rural-to-urban migration, migration within the metropolitan areas, and high rates of natural increase created very dynamic urban populations for both cities. Both cities have diverse populations, with each housing people from all regions of their respective countries The expanse of trade and interaction with multinational corporations from all world regions, as well as relationships with government officials from various countries of the world, furthers the diverse composition of people The size of each, the diversity of activity within, and the international trade between each and other major world centers create environment unparalleled in the other metropolitan centers of Latin America Regional Links: Regional Links The 1990s saw the rise and regeneration of regional trade groupings. In 1997 trade between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay grew by 25%. The Central America and Andean South America grew by 10% The countries of Southern America opened talks with the European Union. Population Pressure: Population Pressure Natural Growth 70 million in 1980 vs 107 in 2005 vs 130 million by 2025 (Mexico) The population of Central America is projected to grow by 60% in the next 30 years. 40 million (2005) vs 60 million (2025) The total population of the Caribbean Basin more than doubled from 17 million to 35 million people from 1965 to 2005 Brazil’s population is moving out of a period of rapid growth, which produced the relatively young population of today. Migration In Mexico, migrants from rural areas continue to contribute to urban growth. Migration from rural areas to Mexico City and to cities and industrial regions in northern Mexico is accompanied by significant numbers of Mexicans emigrating out of the country and into the US seeking employment opportunities. Subregions: Subregions Mexico Central America The Caribbean Basin and Environs Northern Andes Brazil Southern South America Mexico: Mexico Mexico: Mexico Regional Icon The combination of Mayan and Aztec ancestry, Spanish Colonial influence, and more recently, interaction with the United States has created a distinctive Mexican culture that diffused into surrounding areas of the southwestern United States and central America. The burgeoning population of Mexico reached 107 million in the year 2007, making Mexico the most populous country in Middle America and 2nd largest after Brazil in all of Latin America. Political Change Serious debt in the 1980s contributed to a reversal of the government’s protection of industry, leading to new policies permitting foreign competitors into Mexican markets.. Mexico signed the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and US in 1992 Other factors of Mexican social, political, and economic condition may also discourage foreign investments, A few people increased their wealth, the materially poor gained little from the changes Mexico: Mexico Regional Diversity in Mexico Mexico is a country of mountain ranges, plateaus, basin-shaped lowlands, and coastal plains. Most of southern Mexico receives adequate rainfall; much of northern Mexico along and near US border is quite dry. North Mexico—rancher and miners The Western Coast—finishing, commercial agriculture, and tourist industry Central Mexico-set of Mexican political, cultural, and economic activity, centered on Mexico City. Mexico City Mexico City is by far the largest urban agglomeration in Middle America. Its site was a major population center before the arrival of the Spaniards and even before it became the Aztec capital. It continued to be the focus of road and rail networks within New Spain and independent Mexico. Mexico City is the political capital and media center of the country, and has ¾ of Mexico’s manufacturing industry and nearly all of its commercial and financial establishments. Mexico: Mexico Economic Development and the Human Landscape Mexico is by far the most economically developed of the countries of Middle America. 77% total GNI of Middle America in 2003—near top of World Bank’s upper-middle class group Mexico has a diversified economy (agriculture ¼ Mexico work force, manufacturing , tourism-20 million visitors in 2002) Nearly 2/3 of the Mexican population lives in the urban region surrounding Mexico City. The Mexico South Southern Mexico is less developed than northern areas of the country, and most of the region is remote and populated by Native America farmers who grow corn on the hillsides and some wheat on the valley floors. Traditional Native American culture is least disturbed in the south. Central America: Central America 7 independent countries Most materially poor countries in 2005 with 40 million population Banana republics Slow economic growth linked to decades of regional political instability Central America: Central America Countries El Salvador (land reform conflict led to civil war) Guatemala (50% native) Honduras Nicaragua Coffee –export-oriented economies Civil unrest and natural disasters have wreaked the social fabric, physical infrastructure, and economies ………………………………. Costa Rica Panama Beliz………………………….. Have the smallest population Human Activity and Economic Development In contrast to Mexico’s diversifying economy, the Central American countries have a much narrower economic base, resulting in slower economic and social infrastructure development. In Central America, the major difference in economic geography is between the more populous centers of Native American and Hispanic Culture in the uplands and the less populated Caribbean coastal areas with their American-owned plantations growing bananas, other fruits, and sugarcane. The Caribbean Basin and Environs: The Caribbean Basin and Environs The loss of indigenous people to disease The forced migration of Africans to the basin The establishment of extensive sugar cultivation on the islands The Caribbean Basin and Environs: The Caribbean Basin and Environs Countries Bahamas (700 islands) Cuba Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) Puerto Rico Jamaica Increasing global connections have made the islands of Caribbean strategically significant from the colonial era to the present. In the 1500s they were on the route for the Spanish treasure ships between Europe and mainland of the Americas, and from 1600s they became a major source of European colonial wealth through sugarcane cultivation. The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 placed these countries on a major world route, further elevating the strategic importance of regional water ways. The Caribbean Basin and EnvironsContemporary Legacy of the Colonial Past: The Caribbean Basin and Environs Contemporary Legacy of the Colonial Past Colonial Farming Heritage From 1500 to 1800s, some 10 million Africans slaves were shipped to the Americas, of whom 50% went to Caribbean Basin. The Africans brought their own social customs, religious beliefs, and various forms of artistic expression. At the height of sugar cultivation prosperity in the 1700s, the average plantation unit was 200 acres, used 20 slaves, and produced 200 tons of sugar each year. The slave trade was banned in early 1800s, and sugarcane plantation reduced greatly in number. Economic Strategies following Independence Caribbean countries adopted economic policies similar to those other developing countries. At first, manufacturing was promoted through import substitution.. In the 1980s policies switched to making local sites attractive to investment by overseas manufacturers that would take advantage of cheap locations and labor to produce such goods for export, principally to markets in the US and Canada. Northern Andes: Northern Andes Countries Bolivia (mining output of tin and silver) Colombia (mineral extraction, agriculture, manufacturing ,and illegal drug trade) Ecuador Peru (different export products) Venezuela (oil and mineral exports) Economic Development All five countries of the Northern Andes subregion suffer from export-led underdevelopment. (mining and agricultural products demanded by Europeans and North Americans) Peru opened its economy to external investment in the 1990s, creating a boom in mining exploration. Exports of silver and tin dominated the Bolivian economy for decades The countries of the Northern Andes comprise one of the world’s primary drug-producing regions Brazil: Brazil Brazil is the largest country in both area and population in all of Latin America. (5th of the world, three times of as big as Argentina ,2nd of Latin America) European, Africans, and indigenousl Brazil: Brazil Southern South America: Southern South America countries Argentina Chile Paraguay Uruguay The Hispanic culture imprint is a strong common element of the human geography of this region The majority of the population of each country speaks Spanish as their first language and adheres to Roman Catholicism. Southern South America: Southern South America Southern South America has midlatitude climatic environments. The Andes form a distinctive boundary between Child and Argentina. These countries, apart from Paraguay, have greater proportions of European-origin peoples and more diversified economies than other parts of Latin America outside of Brazil, but they suffered from unstable political condition and protectionism until the 1990s.