Central America & the West Indies


Examine the physical and cultural geography of Central America.
Describe the major physical and cultural features of the West Indies.

     Chapter Overview

Chapter 7: Central America and the West Indies

The seven countries that make up Central America are Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. A chain of volcanic mountains runs through inland Central America with lowlands on both sides. Most of Central America has a tropical climate. Farming, on plantations or subsistence farms, is the major economic activity of this region. The plants and animals of the rain forest are important resources. The Panama Canal provides employment for nearly half of that country's people. Most countries in Central America have a blend of Native American and Spanish cultures.

The West Indies includes three different island groups: the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles, and the Lesser Antilles. Volcanoes formed many of the islands. These islands lie within the tropics and most have a tropical savanna climate. Tourism and farming are the most important economic activities in the West Indies. The cultures of the West Indies mix Native American, European, African, and Asian influences.

     Quick Notes

Central America

Central America extends from Mexico south to South America.
Central America includes seven countries: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.
The landscape of Central America drops from inland highlands to coastal plains.
Central America's climate is mostly tropical savanna or tropical rain forest.
Central America's economy relies on farm products and rain forest resources.
About 32 million people live in Central America. Guatemala, with 10 million people, is the most heavily populated country in the region.

The West Indies

The West Indies consists of two major island groups: the Greater Antilles and the Lesser Antilles.
The islands of the Bahamas are also part of the West Indies. They lie southeast of Florida.
Most of the islands of the West Indies have tropical savanna climate with wet and dry seasons.
Farming and tourism are the major economic activities of the West Indies.
The cultures of the West Indies mix African, Native American, and European influences.

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