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World Geography - Unit 3, Chapter 13: Countries of South America
Transcript of World Geography - Unit 3, Chapter 13: Countries of South America
Countries of South America The Andean Countries The Southern Grassland Countries The Northern Tropics The Andes mountains form the "backbone" of the western coast of South America. The Andes are the longest unbroken mountain chain in the world! And they have a big affect on how the land, people, and animals of this area. The "Andean" countries include Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. The physical characteristics vary widely in the Andean region. When there are mountains what other natural landscape or type of habitat is usually close by? Between the mountains and the sea is a large coastal plain. It is a fairly narrow strip of plain though. Further inland from the coastal plains are the highlands of the Andes mountains. There are plateau regions known as the altiplano in Peru and Bolivia and the paramos in Ecuador. The climate and vegetation varies with elevation. There is a timber line at which trees will not grow above that elevation. And even further up in elevation the mountaintop is covered year round in snow and is cold all year long. On the eastern side of the Andes mountains are tropical forests where jaguars, hummingbirds, monkeys, and toucans live. The Andes mountains have a big affect on the economies of the region too. The mountains contain gold, silver, tin, copper, and other minerals and, at certain elevations, the soil is great too. Individuals also trade up and down the mountain for things they need. Before the Spanish arrived in the 1500s, the highlands were inhabited by Native Americans. Over the centuries these people developed larger hearts and lungs to help them live in the oxygen-poor air! Ecuador's population is about half mestizo, one-quarter Indian, and made up of about 10% of people from European descent. Who do you think holds the most economic wealth and political power? Ecuador's economy is largely based on its oil exports and farming exports like coffee, bananas, and cacao. Peru was the heart of the huge Inca Empire. And even though this empire fell in the 1500s almost half of the population are Indians who speak their own language. In Peru the small minority of people from European descent control most of the country's wealth and political power. Many people in this area work in agriculture growing sugar cane, cotton, and rice or by working in factories making fish meal or animal feed. Bolivia lacks the profitable coastal ports and factories of Ecuador and Peru. Most of the people of Bolivia are Indians who are subsistence farmers who live in the highlands. In the highlands Indians grow potatoes, wheat, and barley and herd alpacas and llamas. Chile's population is about 2/3's mestizo. About 1/3 of the rest of the population is composed of people from European descent and unlike the other Andean nations there are very few Indians. The Central Valley is were most people live and most of Chile's industry is located. Fruits, vegetables, and wine grapes are grown in this area.