Cultures – unit 2: Mexico, Central America & The Caribbean geography, history & government notes Page

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CULTURES – UNIT 2: Mexico, Central America & The Caribbean GEOGRAPHY, HISTORY & GOVERNMENT Notes Page

I can: define a cultural region; explain the geography, history (or common history), economy and governments of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
Cultural Region

A cultural region is a __________ that shares a common _____________, beliefs and cultural _________________.

Geography of MEXICO

        • Mexico is located in: ___________________________________________________________

        • What extreme features does Mexico have? ___________________________________________________________

        • What are the two major mountain ranges in Mexico? ___________________________________________________________

        • Where is the Yucatan Peninsula and who lived there centuries ago? ___________________________________________________________

Government & Economy of MEXICO

  • Mexico is a country with great problems and great potential. It is rich in ___________, like oil, silver, copper, and agricultural products. But political and economic failings have kept much of the population in poverty.

  • The Mexico-United States border is the largest ___________ divide on Earth. For many Mexicans, the best chance for a better life lies in the much more prosperous United States. Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans come to the U.S., legally and illegally, each year in search of work.

  • Mexico has a Presidential ___________ Republic

TOP TEN VIDEO – Write down the three most interesting things, in your opinion:


Geography of Central America

  • Central America is generally considered part of the continent of ___________, but is often referred to as its own region.

  • Central America is a narrow isthmus that is bordered by North America and the ___________ to the north and by South America to the south.

    • Isthmus: a narrow strip of land with sea on either side, forming a link between two larger areas of land

  • To the east of Central America is the ___________ Ocean and the Pacific Ocean is to the west.

Government & Economy of Central America

  • The economies of the Central American countries depend on farming and harvesting wood from their ___________. Central America has two kinds of farms. Wealthy people and companies own plantations, which are commercial farms that grow crops for sale.

    • Major crops include coffee, bananas, ___________, and sugarcane.

    • Plantations export their ___________ to the United States and other parts of the world.

    • Farmers in Guatemala and Costa Rica also grow ___________ and ornamental plants for export.

  • Many farms in Central America are not ___________ but subsistence farms.

    • These are small plots of land where poor farmers grow only enough food to feed their families.

    • Subsistence farmers typically raise ___________ and grow corn, beans, and rice

  • In Central America, both El Salvador and Nicaragua are ___________, while most of the other countries are some other form of a republic.

    • Guatemala has a constitutional ___________ republic as does Honduras.

    • Costa Rica has a democratic republic and Panama has a ___________ democracy.

    • Lastly, Belize has a ___________ democracy.

Geography of the Caribbean

  • The Caribbean Islands are another region that are considered part of the continent of ___________

  • They are located in the ___________ Sea to the east of Central America.

  • The largest four Caribbean Islands are Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. 

Government & Economy of Caribbean


  • The country had a ___________ government, but in 1959 Fidel Castro led a revolution that took control of the government.

  • Almost immediately, he set up a ___________ state and turned to the Soviet Union for support.

  • When Castro seized property belonging to ___________ companies, the United States government responded. It put in place an embargo, or a ___________ on trade, against Cuba.

    • Recently our president has started to lift these bans – including travel bans!

  • Cuba relied on aid from the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union broke apart in 1989, it stopped giving economic ___________ to the island.

  • The Cuban economy is ___________, and many Cubans live in poverty.

The Dominican Republic

  • The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with ______________.

  • The Dominican Republic was settled by Spaniards, who brought enslaved Africans to work on _______________ plantations. Sugar is still an important crop.

  • Tourism is growing too, and many Dominicans sell goods in the country’s free trade zone. Free trade zones are areas where people can buy goods from other countries without paying _________.

  • The government of the Dominican Republic hopes to build up the country’s electrical power so the economy can grow more quickly.

  • ____________ remains a problem. As a result, many Dominicans have left the country looking for work.

  • The Dominican Republic is a _______________ republic

Puerto Rico

  • To be or not to be a state in the United States? This is the question that Puerto Ricans ask themselves every few years. The last time they voted, they said _______.

  • How did Puerto Rico become part of the United States? The island was a Spanish colony from ___________ to 1898. After the Spanish-American War in 1898, the United States won control of Puerto Rico.

  • Since 1952 the island has been a ___________________, or a partly self-governing territory, under U.S. protection. By law, Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens. They can come and go as they wish from the island to the United States.

  • Puerto Rico has a high standard of living compared to most other Caribbean islands. It boasts more industry, with factories producing _____________, machinery, clothing, and more.

  • _____________ is the capital and largest city. In rural areas, farmers grow sugarcane and coffee.

  • Puerto Rico makes more money from _____________ than any country in the region.


Latin America – including Central America and the Caribbean – have a Common or Shared History

Latin America was once dominated by large civilizations—the Incan, Aztec, and Mayan empires. These empires left a lasting influence on architecture, food, and language.

The History of MEXICO

  • The Olmec people, Mexico's first complex society, emerged in the southeastern part of the country around ___________ B.C.

  • Mexico's ancient societies built great cities and huge ___________, created remarkable works of art, and even studied the stars and ___________ to determine when to plant ___________ and hold ___________.

  • In the early 1500s, the ___________ arrived in Mexico. The Aztec people got sick from smallpox and other diseases that the Spanish brought with them.

  • The Spaniards also seized and destroyed the ___________ capital, called Tenochtitlán.

  • The Spanish ruled Mexico until ___________.

Shared History of Colonization

The Mesoamerican empires were conquered and colonized by European conquistadors and European colonists, mostly from _______ and Portugal.

Central America was the home of many Native Americans prior to Europe colonizing the region. The majority of the area was colonized by Spain. ____________ is still the most common language. 

Lasting Influence of Colonization:

Language (Spanish), food (many items brought from Europe), religion (Catholicism) and traditions (religious holidays especially) are all things passed down that still _________ the culture of the entire region.

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