Hansell Exam Review Central and South America Countries

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Mexico

111 million. R.Catholic. Sierra Madre ranges. Mayans & Toltec built pyramids rivaling Egyptians. Mexico City (9 million) built on top of Aztec ruins. 1990s economic collapse and recovery Fox then Calderon presidents.

Belize

Formerly British Honduras, only English speaking country in region. Jungle and swamps. Half the people are mulatto, a fifth are direct descendants of Mayans. Belize City important port to ship hardwoods- mahogany and rosewood.

Costa Rica

Highest standard of living in the area. Highest % of mestizos (mixed Indian and Spanish), highest literacy rate, longest succession of orderly democratic governments. Only country without a standing army, may be reason it is so stable. Coffee produced.

El Salvador

Coffee, cotton, sugar. Mountainous country, tropical. Smallest and most densely populated in region. (6 million, 8204 sq miles) 90% mestizos. Disparity between rich and poor created a revolutionary movement; peace treaty 1992, ending 12 yr. civil war.

Guatemala

Largest % of pure blooded Indians in area. Many are direct descendants of Mayan culture which lasted 2,000 years and ended mysteriously around 900 A.D. Deep in the lowland jungle are ruins of city of Tikal, a Mayan city of stone and pyramids. Highlands suffer from 27 volcanoes. Past 30 years, military governments waged war against guerilla forces protesting inequitable distribution of land. Protestants have converted 1/3 of the people. Catholic Church seen as too sympathetic to poor, and has been a target of the military.

Honduras

Banana Republic. Poorest country in region. Large, American owned plantations located on fertile land. Economic potential in untapped mineral resources and large areas of cultivable land.

Nicaragua

Largest country in Central America is triangular, 3 regions: Mosquito Coast of swamps and rainforests, mountains of central highlands, fertile hilly Pacific region, which holds largest lake in CA, Lake Nicaragua. Home to world's only freshwater sharks. 85% mestizos. Miskito Indians -mixed race of black slaves brought by British and locals. 1979 after 30 years of repression, Somoza overthrown by Sandinista party. US feared communist foothold so they organized 'contras' to wage war against Sandinistas. After 10 years of war, the Sandinistas yielded to US demands for free elections. 1990, coalition party defeated Sandinistas.

Panama

3 million. RC, bananas. Crossroads of the West: 33 ships a day pass thru canal. 1903 Panama gained independence from Columbia. US built canal, 50 miles long opened in 1914. US gave up control of canal in 1999. In 1980's, US pressured Panama to give up Manuel Noriega who had seized power and threatened US interests. 1989 US invaded Panama and captured him; convicted of drug running and imprisoned in US.

Colombia

Only nation to have both Atlantic and Pacific coastlines; only land entrance to South America. 90% of world's emeralds, coffee is real treasure. (Only Brazil grows more).Cocaine and marijuana largest cash crop, drug lords widespread urban terror

French Guiana

Only foreign possession left on continent. 100 years used as penal colony. Devil's Island- political prisoners from France

Guyana

Formerly British Guiana, resembles Asian country more than Latin American. Asian majority, black minority (descendants of slaves that were replaced by Asians.) Jonestown massacre- American religious cult leader, drank kool aid.

Suriname

Dutch made worst land swap
in history; traded New York for this country

Venezuela

Called 'little Venice' in Spanish. World's first exporting nation in the 1930's. Home to Angel Falls. Huge foreign debt. Caracas surrounded by shanty towns.

Brazil

5th largest nation in the world. Half the size of SA, contains half the population as well. Large coffee estates are called 'fazendas' the Portuguese version of Spanish hacienda. Largest debtor nation, inflation 1000%.

Bolivia

Sucre- home to supreme court, 'official' capital. Poorest nation in SA. Landlocked and without adequate roads, rail or water transportation. Named after Simon Bolivar who helped bring an end to 300 years of Spanish rule

Chile

Atacama Desert. Strip of land no more than 150 miles wide. Narrowest nation in world. Eastern third of country is covered by Andes. Owns Easter Island

Equador

Galapagos Islands. Darwin visited island and formulated his theory of evolution. Many unique species since they lived in isolation. East of Andes lies area called 'Oriente' which is a primitive part of the Amazon basin.

Peru

Inca civilization. Machu Picchu. 9 million Incas make up the largest Indian population of any country in the Western hemisphere. Peru is leading exporter of fish, especially anchovies.

Argentina

World's leading beef producer. Gauchos.
Patagonia. Glaciers. South of Patagonia is island of Tierra del Fuego which Argentina shares with Chile.
Falkland Island are 300 miles east- owned by Britain.

Paraguay

Paraguay river divides country into 2 parts. Gran Chaco to west, Oriental to the east. Enormous hydroelectric dams. Axebreaker tree used for railroad ties and construction., also tannin for curing hides.

Uruguay

Switzerland of SA until the 1950's. prosperous. Political unrest, guerrillas, most political prisoners. Spanish and Italian, mostly white population

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