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5: Middle and South America

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    • 5.1: The Geographic Features of Middle and South America
      Middle and South America cover an area of the world that is fragmented both in terms of its physical connectivity and its history. Generally, the continents of North American and South America are divided at the Isthmus of Panama, the narrow strip of land that connects the two large landmasses. Culturally, though, Middle America, including the Caribbean, is quite similar to South America and this region shares a distinct pattern of colonial development.
    • 5.2: Colonization and Conquest in Middle America
      Middle America was settled by a number of indigenous groups who originally migrated to the region from North America. Some continued on through the Isthmus of Panama to South America. Here, they founded the Mesoamerican cultural hearth, considered one of the earliest civilizations in the world. Two groups in the region had a particularly strong impact on the cultural landscape of Middle America: the Maya and the Aztec.
    • 5.3: The South American Colonial Landscape
      A variety of ancient cultures were found in South America prior to colonization. These indigenous groups settled in a variety of environments, some in the coastal plains and others in the Amazon basin. One group, the Inca, primarily settled in the altiplano of Peru beginning in the 13th century. The Inca Empire was the largest of the pre-Colombian, referring to before Columbus’ arrival, civilizations.
    • 5.4: Urban Development in South America
      South America is a highly urbanized region, with over 80 percent of people living in cities. Central America and the Caribbean are slightly less urbanized at around 70 percent. Development and human settlement are not spread evenly across the region, however. Several countries in Middle and South America have a primate city. Primate cities are those which are the largest city in a country, are more than twice as large as the next largest city, and are representative of the national culture.
    • 5.5: Income Inequality in Middle and South America
      Although income inequality in Middle and South America has fallen in recent years, this region remains by some measures the most unequal region in the world. Overall, the top 10 percent of people in Latin America control around 71 percent of the region’s wealth. If current trends continue, the top 1 percent will have amassed more wealth than the bottom 99 percent.
    • 5.6: Patterns of Globalization in Middle and South America
      The ongoing migration from Middle and South America points to a larger issue of global economic connectivity. Many of the region’s migrants are well-educated and leave in search of better economic opportunities. This contributes to brain drain, referring to the emigration of highly skilled workers “draining” their home country of their knowledge and skills. Around 84% of Haiti’s college graduates live outside of their home country - the greatest percentage of any country in the world.

    This page titled 5: Middle and South America is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Caitlin Finlayson.

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