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Chapter 4 LATIN AMERICA LEARNING OBJECTIVES - This chapter is important because it provides students with their first opportunity to integrate introductory materials of this book with a relatively unfamiliar region of the world. - In particular, this chapter provides the student with the first opportunity to compare one region with another, specifically, enabling him or her to compare Latin America with North America (Chapter 3). - This chapter introduces Latin America, a region of great cultural diversity that bears the imprint of its history of colonialization. - Within this region are found two of the world’s most important physical features: the Amazon rain forest and the Andes Mountains. - After exploring the materials in this chapter, the student should be able to locate major physical features in this region, identify the countries in the region, and understand how the physical geography of the region has contributed to the social and economic patterns we observe in the region. - In addition, the student should understand the following concepts and models: · Columbian exchange · Dependency theory · Dollarization · El Niño, La Niña · Grassification · Growth poles · Maquiladora · Syncretic religions · Altitudinal zonation -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- - CHAPTER OUTLINE I. Introduction Latin America is comprised of 17 countries, from Mexico on the north to the southern tip of South America. (Please note, this region does NOT include the islands of the Caribbean, which are the subject of the next chapter.) This region is rich in resources, including both high-quality farm land and minerals. It is also home to the world’s largest tropical rain forest, along the Amazon, as well as to the world’s longest mountain chain, the Andes. Latin America bears the imprint of its colonizers from the Iberian Peninsula of Europe, the Spanish and Portuguese. Reminders persist of the trade of enslaved Africans, and the domination of the indigenous peoples. Latin America is also home to a large number of megacities (primate cities), although urbanization is a mixed bag of modernity and poverty. Economic and political instability are slowly giving way to development. There is a prospect of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) that would include all of Latin America, plus the Caribbean (excluding Cuba) and North America by 2005. 40
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II. Environmental Geography: Neotropical Diversity (Figs. 4.3, 4.4) A. Much of the region (but not all) lies in the tropics B. Neotropics: tropical ecosystems of the Americas that evolved in relative isolation and support diverse and unique flora and fauna C. Environmental Issues Facing Latin America 1. Large size and low population density have moderated environmental damage 2. Environmental movements in the region may help Latin America avoid degradation as the region develops D. The Valley of Mexico 1. The Valley of Mexico (around Mexico City), with its mild
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