*** geography South America

Latin American Geography: South America

Latin American history
Figure 1.--.

Latin America streaches from the Rio Grande south to Tierra del Fuego. It is a cultural concpt, including Central America and Mexico. Geologically, Mexico abnd Belize are part of North American Plate. Most of Central America is pasrt of the Caribbean Plate. The Caribbean is situated geologically on the Caribbean Plate and thus sparate from both North snd South America. For our purposes, we are going to use the cultural concept in our geographic organization. Latin America is dominated by South America in both area and population. And sits on the South American Plate. South Amerrica as any jigsaw puzzel fan can instantly tell broke away from the African continent as the Atlantic Ocean formed. I remember as a school boy interested in maps, noting this formation, although I knew mothing about geology. Only since World War II, however, has the concept of plate tectonics and continental drift provided the scientific foundation for this. The supercontinent Pangaea started to move away from each other some 250 million years ago. This is the basis of the biological diversity of the Old and New World. South America as it developed has several important land areas. They include the Andes Mountains, Atacama Desert, Guiana Highlands, Brazilian Higlands, Amazonian Basin, and the Pampas grasslands. The Andes is the longest mountain range in the world and this is not including its northerly extension into North America. It is second only to the Himalayas in he heights of its peaks. And it includes the higest active volcanos in the world. The major rivers are the Amazon, Essequibo, Orionoco, Sao Franciso, and Rio de la Plata (Parana/Paraguay) system. The Amazon is the world's largest river in terms of the volume of water transported. The Amazonian Basin is the largest storehouse of species. And the abunantly watered Amazonian Basin contrasts sharply to the water-starbed sreas across the Andes such as the Atacama Desert, the world's driest desert. The Equator runs through the middle of Amazonian Basin and Andes, but the region's north-south orientation and extreme elevations of the Andes (Sierra) creates a wide range of highly varied climatic conditions. The Amazon and Andes also create varied precipitation patterns. Natural resources include a range of minerals: alunima/bauxite (Jamaica), copper (Chile and Peru), gold, iron (Brazil), nickel (Cuba), silver, tin, and other metals. Several countries (Mexico, Trinidad, and Venezuela) have important petroleum resources. Other countries also have natural gas. Many countries are important exporters of agricultural commodities and the region has the largest reserve of potential agricultural land to develop. The Caribbean islands are a chain of volcanic islands. Central America and Mexico have different geological origins. After South America and North America collided the collisionn of tectonic plates and formed the Andes, Sierra Madre, and Rocky Mountains all along the Pacific Coast.


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Created: 1:54 AM 11/7/2007
Last updated: 1:26 AM 3/6/2014