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Explain how the following five factors have influenced settlement and the economies of major South American countries.
A. absolute and relative locations
C. major physical characteristics
D. major natural resources
E. population size
For an historical overview of the Maya, Inca, and Aztec civilizations, go to Grade
First, definitions, then, a look at these terms and South America:
- absolute and relative locations:
absolute location is the coordinates of a place on longitude and latitude; relative location is where a place is in comparison with landmarks, or other places.
repeated weather patterns in a certain location
- major physical characteristics
features of the terrain, like mountains, lakes, rivers, deserts.
- major natural resources:
parts of nature used by people, such as water, oil, trees, minerals, etc.
- population size:
how many people live in a place.
the top 5 most populated nations are 1. China, 2. India, 3. United States, 4. Indonesia
188,078,227) (see Brazilian flag)
Countries of South America (capital city):
French Guyana (Cayenne)
Influence of the following five factors on SETTLEMENTS and ECONOMIES of South American countries:
absolute and relative locations
the relative location of South America affects its settlement and economy because its proximity to the Caribbean and the sugar and spice plantations there made it a natural next step location for settlement, exploration, and exploitation by Europeans
equatorial regions are the hottest on earth, and the equator runs through the top of South America, just to the north of, and almost along the same line as, the Amazon River
The rainforest climate around the Amazon River enables millions of species to develop and grow there, providing rich natural resources
Further to the south, vast grasslands provide the basis for ranching and the beef industry in Argentina
La Nino and La Nina
What is La Nino and La Nina?
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration La Nina Page
major physical characteristics
Ancient peoples settled in Cuzco, in the Andes Mountains, and developed advanced civilizations there, protected by the difficult terrain and high altitudes
The Amazon River runs across the top of the continent and is one of the most significant ecosystems on the planet
The grasslands in the southern half of the continent support ranches and farms
The Iguazu Falls on the Argentina and Brazil border consist of 275 waterfalls and are located on the border of Argentina and Brazil. They are a major source of tourism for the area.
For a panoramic view of the falls from several different perspectives, click
major natural resources
’s natural resources are varied and extensive, including: sugar, oil, rubber
, wood, plants used for medicine, beef
The Amazon River is a natural resource in itself, with surrounding forests filtering vast amounts of carbon dioxide, which helps to cool the planet. Increase in farming in the region, especially of soy, has further endangered the forests as farmers cut trees to plant fields
the areas of South America with the largest populations are in coastal areas, most easily reached by ships, which is how European and African people came or were brought to South America
Indian populations lived throughout the continent both before and after Europeans and Africans came or were brought to South America
The majority of the population of the interior of South America now is of Indian descent
What is a “major” country? Do you think that people in smaller nations do not consider themselves to be “major”? Who decides which countries are major or minor? Can you think of examples of major or minor countries? What events might change our perception of a nation?
What is the difference between a “nation” and a “country”?
Besides North America, which continent do you know the most about? Why?
Why do you live where you live? (When did your family come to the U.S.? Where did they go first? Why? How did your immediate family get here to this town? Why did you come here?)
Check out the South America quiz – how did you do?
Atlas of the World, Twelfth Edition
, 2005; Oxford University Press, New York.
De Blij, H.J.; Peter O. Muller;
Geography: Realms, Regions, and Concepts
(Seventh Ed.), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1994
Relative and absolute location
List of most populous countries and their populations as of mid-2006
Population map of South America (permission requested)
Political map of South America (public source)
Physical/ satellite map of South America (permission requested)
A short online South America geography quiz:
Buckets of geography quizzes! Enjoy…:
Library of Congress country study on Brazil (economic data as of 1997):
CIA country study on Brazil:
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