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Latin America Review
MesoAmerica (Middle America)
Latin American Geography
• Latin America is made up of countries
from North America, Central America,
South America and the Caribbean Islands.
• The cultures of this region reflect a
combination of native beliefs and
colonial powers (England, France,
Topography • Major topographical features:
– Amazon Basin
– Andes Mountains
– Atacama Desert
Mayas, Aztecs and Incas
300 -900 C.E. -Bloody sacrifices to make gods happy.
-Farmed and traded maize (corn) and
-Predicted end of the world-December 23,
-Giant pyramid temples, picture system of
writing, 365 day calendar, concept of zero,
• Established Tenochtitlan 1315
• Central Mexico
• Warriors made Aztecs rich from tribute, payment by conquered people
• By 1500 Aztecs numbered 30 million people
• Built pyramids and human sacrifices to gods
• Contributions: calendar, chinampas (floating gardens), and pyramids
Inca • From the Andes Mts. and extended 2,500 miles down the pacific coast
• They had an Emperor-Sapa Inca and a centralized government.
• The empire was linked by roads and armies could move quickly throughout the empire.
• Religion: Polytheistic-their chief god was the Sun God.
• Contributions: 12,000 miles of roads, terrace farming, Machu Picchu.
• Quipus: records kept by colored strings and knots.
• Motives for Exploration: Europeans looking for routes to riches of Asia
• New technology: gunpowder, faster ships, better maps, armaments helped exploration.
The New World
• Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain financed Columbus in 1492.
• Columbus reached the Americas and in 1494 Spain and Portugal split the Americas in the Treaty of Tordesillas at the Line of Demarcation.
Spain sent over Conquistadors
looking for Gold, God & Glory
• Hernan Cortes conquered the Aztec empire
• Francisco Pizarro
destroyed the Incan
Empire in Peru
Missionaries spread the Roman Catholic
religion in the New World.
Reasons for Spanish Success
• Spanish used armor, horses and
• Spanish formed alliances with other
Native American groups
• Disease brought by Spanish killed millions
of native peoples.
Social Structure of the Spanish
People born in Spain
Mestizos: People of mixed
European and native descent
Mulattoes: people of mixed
African and European descent
Native peoples and peoples of African
Exchanges from the Americas to Europe
Maize potato sweet potato
Exchange of people, plants, animals, ideas, and technology
between “old world” and “new world” – CULTURAL DIFFUSION
– Disease and Death of Natives
– Labor needed for the plantations
• Middle Passage
– Brutal voyage from Africa to the Americas.
– Local wars in Africa
– Strong taken from Africa
– Diversity in Latin America
• Mercantilism = Colonies used to
benefit the Parent Nation
• Exporting more than importing
• Building up the supply of gold and
Long Term Causes of Latin
• European domination of Latin
• Enlightenment ideas of Locke,
Voltaire & Montesquieu.
• American and French Revolutions
• Growth of nationalism
Immediate Causes of the Latin
American Independence Movements
• Creoles, Mestizos & Indians resent colonial rule.
• Revolutionary leaders emerge.
• Napoleon invades Spain & colonies saw Spain’s weakness as an opportunity to revolt.
Haiti’s Struggle • Haiti’s sugar
made it a
• Born into slavery
• Son of a Noble West
• Learned to read
• Inspired by stories
of revolt in ancient
Rome and Julius
Uprising of 1791
• Toussaint with support of slaves vs. France, Spain, Britain and Mulattoes
• More lives lost than in any other Revolution in the Americas
Rebuilding Haiti • By 1798 enslaved Haitians free
• Toussaint controlled most of the island
• Attempted to heal bad feelings between
• Offered government jobs to whites,
mulattoes & Africans.
Death of Toussaint • Toussaint was
betrayed and seized by Napoleon’s men
• Ten months later in a French prison Toussaint died
• 1804 Haitian leaders declared independence
• 1820 Haiti a republic & the only non slave nation in Western Hemisphere
Simon Bolivar • Simon Bolivar, an
educated Creole, saw
of Spain the signal to
• In 1810 he led an
established a republic
• Civil war raged &
Bolivar forced into exile
“The Liberator” • 1819 Bolivar
marched his army across the Andes and attacked Bogotá
• Joined forces with Jose de San Martin
• By 1824 wars of independence had ended
• Bolivar’s dream for Gran Columbia
vanished as rivalries flared
• Gran Columbia split into Venezuela,
Columbia and Ecuador
• Violent civil wars emerged
• Long struggle for stability and even longer
• Cuba won independence from Spain in
• 1952: Batista seized power with a
repressive & corrupt government.
• Fidel Castro organized a guerrilla army &
• 1959: Castro set up a communist
government in Cuba.
Effects of the Cuban Revolution
• Communist Dictatorship under FIDEL
• Collective Farms
• Government control of Industry –
• Seizure of foreign property
Cuban Missile Crisis
• 1961: U.S. backed a plot by Cuban exiles to invade Cuba- Bay of Pigs failed.
• 1962: U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.
• U.S.S.R. built nuclear missile bases on Cuba (90 miles off coast of Florida).
• 1962: President Kennedy demanded Soviet removal of nuclear weapons & blockaded Cuba.
• U.S.S.R. removed weapons & U.S. promised not to invade Cuba.
• The closest we have come to nuclear war!!!!
Hot Spot in the Cold War
• Oppressive, military dictator in Chili.
• Human rights abuses- tortured and killed
Add me…I have been showing
up on the exam.
U.S. involvement in Latin America
• Organization of American States 1948: L.A. &
U.S. created O.A.S. to promote democracy,
economic cooperation & human rights.
• North American Free Trade Agreement:
1990’s U.S., Mexico, & Canada signed NAFTA
to allow free trade among the 3 nations. Goal:
to bring prosperity to Mexico.
Problems facing Latin America
• Political instability
• Overpopulation – Mexico city
• Deforestation –Brazilian Rain Forests
• Endangered species