Unit 6: South America
The continent of South America has diverse physical landscapes, from the Andes mountains to the tropical forests of the Amazon basin. It has an abundance of precious metals and fossil fuels in Venezuela and Columbia, while the Amazon basin is a source of lumber and, more recently, some of the largest iron-ore mines in the world. The massive plains of Brazil and the rich soils of the Pampas allow for enormous agricultural operations. Even the inhospitable Atacama region in northern Chile holds some of the world's largest copper reserves. The wide variety of climate zones allows for a diverse ecosystem, and the extremes of physical geography have created both barriers and opportunities for those who live there.
We begin this unit by exploring the diverse physical characteristics of South America. We will discover how South America's colonial legacy shaped its early cultural landscape, and how European colonialism dominated and divided the continent. Then, we will take a look at South America's unique cultural regions, and they influence globalization and trade.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 3 hours.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- summarize the main physical features and characteristics of South America;
- analyze colonial domination within South America and how the continent was divided;
- identify the main cultural regions of South America;
- summarize the production of the three main export products of Colombia;
- compare the three main countries in the Andean West region of South America, describe how they gained their wealth, and identify who has benefited the most from that wealth;
- discuss how Paraguay's geography allowed it to gain wealth and provided opportunities for its people;
- summarize the ethnic composition of Brazil and discuss why the population is so diverse;
- describe the main activities that are involved in the development and exploitation of the Amazon Basin;
- list the physical characteristics of the various regions of Brazil;
- explain the pattern of immigration that created the regional heritage of the Southern Cone; and
- discuss how Chile has emerged as a strong and stable country.
MapCheck: South America
Can you identify the countries, rivers, and mountain ranges marked on this map of South America?
6.1: Introducing South America
This section introduces the physical, cultural, and economic characteristics of South America and explores how colonial domination influenced cultural differences and similarities across the region.
6.2: Urban North and Andean West
This section introduces the physical, cultural, and economic characteristics of the Urban North and Andean West regions of South America, including Colombia and Paraguay. It also reviews the three main export products of Colombia and the role the United States plays in their export.
In this exercise, you will follow the the journey of Charles Darwin aboard the HMS Beagle, which eventually took him to the Galapagos Islands, where he formed his theory of evolution and natural selection. Follow the instructions and answer the questions in this document.
This section introduces the physical, cultural, and economic characteristics of Brazil and analyzes its ethnically diverse composition. It also explores the development and exploitation of the Amazon Basin.
Conservation efforts and great wonders are yet to be discovered in Brazil. Watch this video, which describes the Amazon, a river that boils as if a fire burns below it.
The tapir is one of the world's largest land animals. Watch this video, which discusses their survival.
In this exercise, you will look at deforestation trends and patterns. Follow the instructions and answer the questions in this document.
6.4: The Southern Cone
This section introduces the physical, cultural, and economic characteristics of the region known as the Southern Cone, which includes Argentina and Chile. It also explores the pattern of immigration that created the region's heritage.