Peoples World Cultures: Latin America: Unit III

Analysis Paper Research.

Chapter 8: Mexico

  • Mexico is Latin America’s most northern country and its nearest neighbor to the United States (69). 
  • Mexico is a land of sharply rising mountains and steep ravines. It has mile high-cities and sea-level rain forests (69).
  • Huge deposits of oil are in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico (69).
  • Offshore oil drilling platforms dot the Gulf (69).
  • This treasure makes Mexico the world’s fourth largest oil producer and the world’s fifth largest producer of natural gas (70).
  • The people of Mexico are a unique blend of European, Native American, and African descent (72). 
  • Native Americans were the original Mexicans. Today Native Americans are in the minority. They are divided into more than 50 subgroups. Examples: Nahua, Maya, & Zapoteca are large. Other groups consist of just a few dozen families (72.)
  • Close to 40% of all Mexicans are under the age of 15 (73).
  • Every year about 1 Million Mexicans reach working age. (73)
  • Like the United States, Mexico is a Federal Republic. (74)
  • Nearly 70% of Mexicans live in urban areas.
  • Maquiladoras- To provide work for Mexico’s unemployed people, the government began setting up maquiladoras in 1965. A maquiladora is a foreign-owned factory. Usually, local workers assemble parts into finished products. Some U.S. companies built them in Mexico to take advantage of the laser wages paid in Mexico. About 500,000 Mexican workers were employed in Maquiladoras in 1998 (75).
  • The Aztecs began building the city around 1325 (75.)

Chapter 9: Central America

  • Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama (77/78.)
  • Before Spanish conquest, Central America was home to many Native American civilizations, including the Maya (77). 
  • Over the centuries, minerals from the ash have made Central America’s land fertile (78). 
  • Farmers can grow coffee, bananas, cotton and other crops (78).
  • Central America’s most important economic resource is its fertile soil (80). 
  • The economies of most Central American countries depend of exporting farm products (80).
  • Guatemala, Belize & Honduras export woods from rain forest trees (80). 
  • One-Crop Economies-  Most Central American countries are dependent on just one or two crops (80). 
  • El Salvador, coffee makes up 80% of the country’s exports (80). 
  • Coffee is also the chief export of Costa Rica and Guatemala (80).
  • Banana’s are Honduras’s most valuable export (80).
  • Nicaragua exports three main crops- cotton, coffee, and sugar (80).
  • Relying on one product is risky. A nation’s economy depends on the prices that those crops demand in world markets. A drop in prices can cause problems. Many people lose their jobs. Guatemala, Costa Rica, and El Salvador, for example, faced years of hardship when world prices for coffee declined in the 1980s (80).
  • Guatemala’s Economy- More than half of Guatemalans are farmers. Yet, agriculture contributes only 25% to the nation’s economy. This is because many farmers practice subsistence farming (81).
  • Subsistence farmers grow only enough for their own use (81).
  • They grow corn, rice, and a root called cassava (81). 
  • The creation of coffee and banana plantations was the first attempt to establish farming as a business in Guatemala (81).
  • Coffee beans are one of the most important cash crops of Guatemala (81).
  • There fertile soil of the valleys is Panama’s main natural resource (82). 

Chapter 11: Cuba

  • Cuba is a paradise of more than 8,000 different plants and trees (91).
  • Cuba’s location makes it important to the people of the United States and the Western Hemisphere (91).
  • The island is only 90 miles from Florida (91).
  • It is just about the same distance from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula (91). 
  • It is only a few hundred miles away from Central America and the Panama Canal (91).
  • Cuba is the largest nation in the West Indies. If you put all the other islands in the West Indies together they would not equal the size of Cuba (91).

Chapter 12: Hispaniola, Jamaica, and the other Islands of the Caribbean

  • Today hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to the islands to enjoy the warm sun and beautiful scenery (97).
  • Tourism is a major economic resource of this region (97).
  • It is not enough to  build a strong economy (97).
  • The islands of the Caribbean are struggling (97).
  • Because of economic problems, many people have left their Caribbean homelands to find other opportunities (97).
  • During the middle of the 1800s, slavery ended in much of the Caribbean. Sugar plantations began bringing in workers from Asia. Many workers from India came to worn in Trinidad and Jamaica. Today there is a large Indian population in Trinidad. Other groups also live and work in Jamaica. Most Chinese went to Cuba, where many still live (99).
  • Because of a rapidly growing population, there is tremendous pressure on the land. On many islands natural forests have been cleared for farming (100).
  • Caribbean farmers often work lands of poor quality. Frequently, the best soil has eroded into the sea (100).
  • Most Caribbean nations are forced to depend on other countries for food (100).
  • Most sell raw materials and import foods and manufactures (100).
  • Like Cuba, the Dominican Republic’s most important crop is sugarcane.
  • Dominican sugar is exported to the United States, Canada, and the nations of Europe (100.)
  • Laws were passed to limit how much money a foreign firm could take out of the country (102).
  • Economy- In recent years (2001 like this book), sugar has risen very little (the price). At the same time, the price of imported goods has increase a great deal. This has put great strain on the Dominican people. IT has led many to come to the United States, where jobs are more available. Dependence on sugar has also created major unemployment problems. During the harvest season, many extra workers are needed to cut the cane and process it into sugar. However, while the cane is growing, fewer workers are needed. For several months each year about one fifth of the workforce is unemployed. During that time, worker move to the cities, where most live in porter areas or slums. (102).
  • Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere (103).
  • Part of the reasons for Haiti’s poverty can be traced to colonial rule. In the late 1700s, French rulers began cutting the heavy forests in order to set up plantations. This process continued after Haiti won its independence (103).
  • Erosion. Lack of Minerals (103). 
  • Jamaica is also famous for its spices, especially ginger (104).
  • The British grew coffee and sugarcane on huge plantations and brought thousands of Africans to Jamaica to work as slaves on the plantations. Jamaica to work as slaves on the plantations. Jamaica was a British colony for almost 300 years until it became an independent nation in 1962 (104). 
  • Unlike most of the Caribbean, Jamaica has mineral wealth. Indeed, it is the world’s largest exporter of a mineral called bauxite. (mined & used to make aluminum.) Jamaica’s bauxite is exported to the United States & Canada (105).
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