Central America and Mexico Geography

John P., Joe, Joanna F., Kira R.

Essential Questions
How has the geography affected Central American and Mexican culture
How does the geography affect the economies of Central America and Mexico?
Since farming and agriculture is a major economic import and export. Why is only a small portion of land arable?
How will the geography of Central America and Mexico affect them in the future?
What are the benefits and disadvantages that Central American geography opposes on the region?
How has Central American geography shaped belief systems?
Why are there so many volcanoes and mountains in Central America? How does if effect the way people live?
How does the El Nino disaster effect Australia?

Kira and Joanna's Class Homework

El Nino Disaster


Central America and Mexican Geography Lesson Plan- John & Joe

-The class will be able to identify key landforms and places (from information we will give in our PowerPoint) in Central America and Mexico using the maps we supply. This will happen during our activity.
-The class will be able to connect geography to economy (through an assessment at the conclusion of our presentation) by using the knowledge presented to them in our PowerPoint
-They will also be able to explain Central American and Mexican Geography and Geography connections, to life in these countries through our assessment.

Essential Questions:
-How does the geography affect the economies of Central America and Mexico?
Different countries have different climates, which can work to their agricultural and economic advantages. A country with a warmer, tropical, climate such as Costa Rica, can export foodstuffs such as pineapples and bananas, which can only be grown in certain conditions. Warmer climates also attract many tourists; a thriving part of many of these countries economies. The geographic location of a country can also affect the economy. For example, Panama is located in the Central American Isthmus and was a perfect location to build a canal. This realization caused the creation of the Panama Canal, which now brings more than 14,000 ships into Panama each year, resulting in many people visiting Panama.

-How has the geography affected Central American and Mexican ways of life?
A person’s way of life can be affected many ways. A person needs to change the way they dress, what crops they grow, what animals they raise, if the climate of their home is warmer or cooler. A person’s life could also be affected if the country is geographically located in a place that often gets struck by hurricanes or one that has many floods. Someone who lives in tropical Costa Rica could make trinkets for the many tourists that visit their country and drive their economy, while someone living in El Salvador where there are many less beaches and many more raw materials creating more manufacturing jobs, could go to work in a factory everyday.

-Since farming and agriculture is a major economic import and export for these countries, why is only a small portion of land arable?
There are many reasons why there is only a small portion of the land is arable. One reason is that some of the countries with agriculturally based economies tend to practice the slash and burn way of farming which often leaves large portions of land un-farmable. Another reason could be that since a lot of countries climates are not as friendly to certain kinds of crops as others. And for some of these countries agricultural products are the main import and export but only because they need to import food to sustain their people and they don’t have much else valuable to export.

- For our activity we will go on our Wikispace pull up the PowerPoint that has the activity on it
- We will call up students from the class to label various things on the various maps we pull up (these maps are on the PowerPoint for our activity)
-The class will label
- The countries of Central America
- The 3 Divisions of Mexico
- Major bodies of water
-The students can find the information needed for this activity on the maps on our Wiki

-The Word Doc with Maps
-The Word Doc with the assessment that we will verbally read to the class
-Our PowerPoint

We will be holding an oral exam on the lesson. Anyone who raises their hand first and answers a question correctly will receive a reward (candy). We will have a printout which we will be reading the oral exam assessment questions the students must answer in order to get candy, off of. This printout will have questions that touch upon information that we highlighted in our essential questions.

The coloring map of countries is from the link: http://www.coedu.usf.edu/culture/Maps/Central_America_map.gif

The coloring map answers are from:

The physical coloring map is from: http://daac.gsfc.nasa.gov/oceancolor/images/central_america_topo.jpg

The physical map answers are from http://content.answers.com/main/content/wp/en/thumb/a/a2/180px-CentAmerica.jpg

Mexico (Physical and political)- http://www.clickandlearn.com/documents2/BlankMaps.htm

Answers on Mexico are from-

Central American and Mexican Political map-

Mexico political Map

Other Websites

[[file:Central America and Mexico.pptx]]


Geographic Coordinates: 23 00 N, 102 00 W
Area: 1,972,550 km, a little smaller than 3x the size of Texas
Borders: Belize, Guatemala, US
Climate: varies from tropical to desert
Terrain: high mountains; low coastal plains; high plateaus; deserts
Natural Resources: petroleum, gold, silver, lead, timber, copper, zinc, natural gas,
Imports: steel products, agricultural machinery, car parts, and electrical machinery
Exports: manufactured goods, silver, cotton, oil, fruits, vegetables, coffee
Arable Land: 12.66%
Affects of Geography on Mexico
United States:
Due to the fact that Mexico has historically shared a border with the US the two countries have had disputes numerous times.
-Mexican-America War:
-Conflict fought between the US and Mexico from 1846 to 1848.
-Each side believed that they owned the rights to Texas. The unite states annexed Texas in 1845 but the Mexicans thought it was a rebel province and tried to take it back
Picture_7.png Tourism:
-Because of Mexico’s location in the Temperate/Tropical Gulf of Mexico Tourism is the third largest industry in the country.
-During the months of January and December Mexican beaches attract many tourists
-Faming is a big part of Mexico’s economy and over 20% of jobs in Mexico are farming related
-However since only 1/5 of Mexico’s land is arable and about 75 of Mexican farmers are subsistence farmers, (together with the fact that over half the population in Mexico lives in poverty) there have historically been many issues regarding food in Mexico


-Geographic Coordinates: 9 00 N, 80 00 W
-Area: 78,200 sq km, a little smaller than South Carolina
-Borders: Columbia, Costa Rica
-Climate: tropical, hot and humid. Long rainy season, short dry season.
-Terrain: mountainous, coastal areas, many plains and rolling hills
-Natural Resources: copper, mahogany forests, shrimp, hydropower
-Imports: food, consumer goods, chemicals
-Exports: bananas, shrimp, sugar, coffee, clothing _____________________Wikipedia
-Arable Land: 7.26%
-Connects Central and South America
-Very Fertile from Volcanic Activity
-½ country is forest
-Cordillera Central
-Tabarasa Mountains
-Spine down center of western interior
Affects of Geography on Panama
Panama Canal
-Panama being an isthmus that connects North America and South America it is an ideal location for a canal
-Runs from Panama City to Colon
- Since opening, the canal has been very successful, and continues to be a key route for international shipping. Each year more than 14,000 ships, carrying over 200 million tons worth of cargo, travel through the canal. As a result of this many people visit Panama each year so their economy has benefited accordingly
- Panama’s key geographic location ne
ar the Caribbean also makes tourism an important part of their economy
- Major trade route

Isthmus of Panama

- The creation Isthmus of Panama had a huge
effect on the Earths geography
- The Isthmus of Panama had an enormous impact on Earth's climate and its environment. By shutting down the flow of water between the two oceans, the land bridge re-routed ocean currents in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.


-Area: 78,200 sq km, a little smaller than the state of New York
-Borders: Honduras, Costa Rica
-Climate: tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands
-Terrain: coastal plains rising to mountains; often interrupted by volcanoes
-Natural Resources: gold, silver, copper, tungsten, lead, zinc, timber, fish-Imports: machinery and equipment, raw materials, petroleum
-Exports: beef, coffee, shrimp and lobster, tobacco, sugar, gold, peanuts
-Arable Land: 14.81%
Affects of Geography on Nicaragua
Pacific Lowlands
-Active volcanoes along coast
-Managa and Nicaragua are two large fresh water lakes

Atlantic Lowlands
-Rainforest regionrainforest-2.jpg
-Great variety of birds can be observed including toucans, eagles, parakeets, turkeys and macaws. Animal life in the area includes different species of monkeys, ant-eaters, tapirs, and other tropical mammals .
-Large rivers, lagoons and deltas
-Sparsely populated
-Tropical east coast
-Very different from rest of co
-Tropical climate
-High temperature
-High humidity
Central Region
-Upland region away from Pacific coast
-Cooler than pacific lowlands
-Marrabios mountain range
-Agricultural crop

-In addition to its beach and resort communities, the Pacific Lowlands are responsible for much of Nicaragua's Spanish colonial heritage
-This general location was where the Spanish first settled
Cities such as Granada and Leon abound in colonial architecture and artifacts. __________________Wikipedia

El Salvador

Geographic Coordinates: 13 50 N, 88 55 W
Area: 21,040 sq km, a little smaller than Massachusetts
Borders: Guatemala, Honduras
Climate: tropical rainy season and tropical on coast; temperate in uplands
Terrain: mostly mountains with narrow coastal belt and central plateau
Natural Resources: hydropower, geothermal power, petroleum, arable land
Imports: raw materials, consumer goods, capital goods, fuels, petroleum, electricity
Exports: coffee, sugar, shrimp, textiles, chemicals, electricity
Arable Land: 31.85%

Affects of Geography of El Salvador
-The crop of coffee greatly affects the country because it used to be used as currency
-Many natural disasters
-Many lakes
-There are more than 200 volcanoes
~The many volcanoes give much enriched soil to the country
It is a major problem in El Salvador
Only 2% of virgin forests are still inact
Also puting animal and plant species in danger
-Tourism is not good in El Salvador
-There are many natural disasters such as earthquakes and mudslides
-It is the only Central American country that does not have a Caribbean coastline, limiting tourism

Costa Rica

Geographic Coordinates: 10 00 N, 84 00 W
Area: 51,100 sq km, a little smaller than West Virginia
Borders Nicaragua, Panama
Climate: Tropical and subtropical; cooler in highlands
Terrain: Coastal plains separated by rugged mountains and many volcanoes.
Natural Resources: hydropower
Imports: raw materials, consumer goods, petroleum external image crbeach1.jpg
Exports: coffee, bananas, sugar; pineapples; textiles, electronic components, medical equipment
Arable Land: 4.41%
-Highest point: Cerro Chirripo (3,180 m)
-5th highest peak in Central America

Affects of Geography on Costa Rica
-Due to the fact that the country is located in the Central American isthmus Costa Rica is provided with easy access to markets in North and South America and ocean access to the European and Asian continents.
-Due to its location on the globe it has two distinct seasons each with its own agricultural advantage, as different crops can be grown at different times
-One-fourth of Costa Rican land has been set aside as national forests, often with adjoining beaches, which has made the country a popular tourist spot for retirees and ecotourists.


Geographic Coordinates: 15 30 N, 90 15 W ______Images from Yahoo
Area: 108,890 sq km, a little smaller than Tennessee
Borders: Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico
Climate: tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands
Terrain: mostly mountains with narrow coastal plains and rolling limestone plateau
Natural Resources: petroleum, nickel, rare woods, fish, hydropower
Imports: fuels, machinery, construction materials, grain, fertilizers, electricity
Exports: coffee, sugar, petroleum, apparel, bananas, fruits and vegetabvolcano.jpges,
Arable Land: 12.54%
• 2/3 of the country is very mountainous
• 32 active volcanoes
• 40% of the land covered by forests

Affects of Geography of Guatemala//
o Rapid deforestation is occurring from the slash and burn method and illegal logging
o Use of wood for heating and cooking contributes too
~40% of the country is crumbling under deforestation
~Slash-and-burn agriculture is being used, which is the cause of much of the deforestation.
So is the process of illegal logging
• Most people live on slopes of highlands or in the fertile lowlands along pacific coast
o Most of the region is not livable b/c of the volcanoes
• Weather
o Eastern-central- hot and dry!
o Costal lowlands- hot and humid
• Refer to country as the land of the eternal spring
• Seasons
o November-April= dry
o May-October= abundant rain
o Caribbean coast is wet year round
• Economy
o ¾ of the country is poor
• results in rural farming
• deforestation occurs; not much land for faming
• half of the country is involved in the faming industry which does not earn them money
• Health
o Serous health problems
• Malnutrition, lack of portable water
• Do not have enough food b/c when they grow food
• Not many water sources in Guatemala except near the coast
• Most salt water
Sierra Madre and Altos Cuchumatanes
The two mountain ranges together make up most of the country
of Guatemala
Sierra Madre
-Mountain range in the south of Guatemala
-It is made up of mostly volcanoes
-Three of the volcanoes are active
-Volcanic ash produced from the volcanoes makes the most fertile soil in the country
Altos Cuchumatanes
-It is the older mountain range of the two
-Located in the north of the country
-It is much more eroded


Geographic Coordinates: 17 15 N, 88 45 W
Area: 22,966 sq km, a little smaller than Massachusetts
Borders: Guatemala, Mexico
Climate: tropical; very hot and humid
Terrain: flat, swampy; many coastal plains; low mountains in the south
Natural Resources: timber, fish, hydropower
Imports: machinery, manufactured goods; fuels, chemicals, pharmaceuticals; tobacco
Exports: sugar, bananas, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood
Arable Land: 2.85%
Major Landforms
-Belize River http://content.answers.com/main/content/wp/en/thumb/3/3a/300px
-Maya Mountains
-Belize Barrier Reef- 2nd largest in world, 1st in W. Hemispheremaya_mountains.jpg
-North- Swamps, Coastal Plains, Forests
-South- Low Hills, Low Mountains
Key Facts
-Sugar- Key crop
-Small Portions of Petroleum
-Over 450 Coves/Inlets/Islands
-Only country with out Pacific Ocean bordering
-Have major Natural Disasters every year
-Major Economies- Tourism, Industry, and Agriculture
-Flat marshes and lagoons in the northern half
*Cayes Islands
-Pronounced "KEYS"
-Is made up of hundreds of small islands
-Home to the second largest barrier reef in the world


Geographic Coordinates: 15 00 N, 86 30 W
Area: 112,090 sq km, a little bit bigger than Tennessee
Borders: Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua
Climate: lowlands subtropical, mountains temperate
Terrain: mostly mountains in interior, narrow coastal plains
Natural Resources: timber, gold, copper, lead, zinc, iron ore, coal, fish, hydropower
Imports: machinery, industrial raw materials, chemical products, fuels, foodstuffs
Exports: coffee, bananas, shrimp, lobster, meat; zinc, lumber
Arable Land: 15.15%
-Carribean Sea- North
-Pacific Ocean- South
-Tropical Climate= Low Lands
-Temperate Climate= Mountains
-Natural Resources- Timber, Gold, Silver, Copper, Lead, Zinc, Iron Ore, Coal, Fish, And Shrimp
-Holds the largest pine forest in Latin America: Called the Olancho Forest Reserve.
-The reserve is about the size of Connecticut

Works Cited

1.) Ahmad, Iftikhar, et al. "Geography and People." World Cultures A Global Mosaic.

Ed. Marta Sentis. World Cultures. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2001.


2.) Central America." World Atlas. 16 May 2007. 16 May 2007 <http://worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/camerica.htm>.

3.) Central America and Mexico." World Geography: Understanding a Changing World.

2007. ABC-CLIO. 14 May 2007 <http://www.worldgeography.abc-clio.com/library/searches/sublist.aspx?categoryid=4&topicid=&subtopicid=&fulltext=central+america&nav=non&c countryid=&subjectid=0>.

4.) "Country Profiles." Central America; The Caribbean. Ed. Peter Haggett. Second

ed. Vol. Four. Encyclopedia of World Geography. Tarrytown, New York:

Marshall Cavendish, 2002. 440-453.

5.) "Mexico." CIA World Fact book. 10 Apr. 2007. 15 May 2007 <http://www.cia.gov/ library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mx.html>.

6. Ropp, Steve C. "Central America." World Book Online Reference Center. World Book Online Reference Center. World Book. 8 May 2007 http://www.worldbookonline.com/.


Central America

external image mexico-map.gif


Belize 22,966 291,000 14 Belmopan
Costa Rica 51,100 4,327,000 85 San José
El Salvador 21,040 6,881,000 327 San Salvador
Guatemala 108,890 12,599,000 116 Guatemala City
Honduras 112,492 7,205,000 64 Tegucigalpa
Nicaragua 129,494 5,487,000 42 Managua
Panama 75,517 3,232,000 43 Panama City

Guatemala- 17% Arable Land, Rainy Season May to October- 52 inches
Costa Rica- 10% Arable Land, Most of Population lives in Central Plateau
Honduras- 16% Arable Land, Rainy season May to November
El Salvador- 35% Arable Land, Rainy Season May to November- 66 inches
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