What Causes Changes in Insolation?

THE ENERGY TRANSMITTED from the Sun to Earth, called incoming solar radiation, or insolation, has varied only slightly during the short time for which we have accurate measurements from satellites. How much energy do we receive from the Sun, and why does it vary at all? How Much Energy Is Transferred from the Sun to […]

What Is the Electromagnetic Radiation Spectrum?

What Controls Wavelengths of Radiation?

ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION takes many different forms, each of which have very different properties, determined by their wavelengths. Variations in wavelength explain the existence of different colors and warming of the Earth due to climate change. How are differences in the wavelength of electromagnetic energy (EMR) expressed in our world and in the Solar System? What Range […]

What Are Some Common Examples of Electromagnetic Radiation?

What Is Electromagnetic Radiation?

ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION is one of the fundamental forces of nature. It dominates our daily interactions with the world, determining the color of objects, the character of the air we breathe, and the physical characteristics of the water we drink. Electromagnetic radiation is essential to the operation of weather and our climate system and to all […]

What Are the Forms of Latent Heat?

What Is Latent Heat?

WATER OCCURS IN ALL THREE PHYSICAL STATES —solid, liquid, and gas — at temperatures commonly found on Earth. Although the chemical structure of water remains unchanged from state to state, the three states, also called phases, are differentiated by the physical spacing of the water molecules. Considerable quantities of energy, contained as latent heat, are […]

What Is Temperature and How Do We Measure It?

What Are Heat and Temperature?

THE TERMS HEAT AND TEMPERATURE are used every day, but what do they actually mean? Temperature is a measure of the object’s internal kinetic energy — the energy contained within molecules that are moving, and heat is thermal energy transferred from one object to another. Moving molecules drive many processes in the Earthocean-atmosphere system, such […]

What Is Energy?

What Is Energy and How Is It Transmitted?

THE TRANSMISSION OF ENERGY, and the interactions between energy and matter, define the character of our planet and control weather, climate, and the distribution of life, including humans. Here, we examine the fundamentals of energy, including what it is, where it comes from, and how it is moved from one place to another. What Is […]

What Is the Structure of the Atmosphere?

What Is the Atmosphere?

A RELATIVELY THIN LAYER OF GAS — the atmosphere — surrounds Earth’s surface. The atmosphere shields us from harmful high-energy rays from space, is the source of our weather and climate, and contains the oxygen, water vapor, and other gases on which all life depends. What is the character and composition of the atmosphere, and […]

Philippines

Energy and Matter in the Atmosphere

ALMOST ALL NATURAL SYSTEMS on Earth derive their energy from the Sun, but not all areas receive the same amount of sunlight. Instead, the amount of energy reaching Earth’s surface varies from region to region and from time to time. The interaction of energy with the Earth’s atmosphere and surface determine the climate, weather, and […]

What Might Happen If This Location Is Deforested?

YOU HAVE BEEN EMPLOYED by a county planning commission. You are asked to assess any possible impacts of logging (removing trees) of a mountainside in the area under your jurisdiction. To address the problem, you rely on your broad perspective and skills in the use of maps, satellite-image interpretation, physical geographic principles, and the scientific method. […]

How Did Geographers Help in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil-Spill Cleanup?

ON APRIL 20, 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the northern Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers, injured 17 others, and initiated the most disastrous oil spill in U.S. history. For the next 86 days, oil gushed into the Gulf. This oil spill is an example of a complex problem with […]

How Do We Define Time Globally?

What Is the Role of Time in Geography?

WE LIVE ON A GLOBE THAT ROTATES, causing locations on the surface to pass from day to night and back again. Not everyone witnesses sunrise at the same time, because the Sun rises at different times in different locations. Some ideas from geography, especially the concept of longitude, help us understand these differences and describe […]

What Are Geographic Information Systems?

How Do We Use GIS to Explore Spatial Issues?

MAPS ARE USED FOR REPORTING OBSERVATIONS and making interpretations from previously collected observations, and they can also be analyzed to create new maps. Maps created from aerial photographs, satellite imagery, and field observations can be stored in computer databases called geographic information systems (GIS), where a variety of information can then be combined quickly and […]

How Do We Use Global Positioning Systems and Remote Sensing?

THE GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM GPS and remote sensing have greatly increased the accuracy of geographic field studies and given geographers new methods for performing geographic analyses. GPS helps geographers define spatial relationships among Earth’s surface features, and a wide variety of remote sensing techniques help geographers define regional patterns and monitor changing environmental conditions. What […]

Large-Scale Maps

How Do We Use Maps and Photographs?

MAPS ARE AMONG OUR MOST IMPORTANT TOOLS for depicting and analyzing spatial information, whether we are interested in environmental issues or election results. Cartographers generate different kinds of maps that are designed to show Earth’s landscape features, its weather and climate, and the distribution of plants, animals, or many other types of variables. Some cover […]

What Are the Major Types of Projections and What Advantages Does Each Offer?

How Do Map Projections Influence the Portrayal of Spatial Data?

EARTH IS NOT FLAT, so a flat map cannot portray all locations accurately. An ideal map would preserve directions, distances, shapes, and areas, but it is not possible to preserve all four of these accurately. Instead, either the shape of features on a map, such as country outlines, is preserved or the area of features […]

UTM ZONE NUMBERS

What Are Some Other Coordinate Systems?

WE USE OTHER SYSTEMS, besides latitude and longitude, to describe location. These include the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) system, the State Plane Coordinate System (SPCS), and the Public Land Survey System (PLSS). Each is very useful for certain applications, and some are used to specify the location of real-estate properties appearing on legal documents associated […]

What Are Latitude and Longitude?

What Do Latitude and Longitude Indicate?

IMAGINE TRYING TO DESCRIBE the location of an “X” on a featureless sphere. What system would you devise to convey the location? If the sphere did not have any markings or seams, we would need to first establish a frame of reference — a place on the sphere from which to reference the location of […]

How Do We Depict Earth’s Surface?

EARTH’S SURFACE DISPLAYS various features, including mountains, hillslopes, and river valleys. We commonly represent such features on the land surface of an area with a topographic map or shaded-relief map, each of which is useful for certain purposes. Some maps allow us to visualize the landscape and navigate across the land, whereas others permit the […]

How Do Earth’s Four Spheres Interact?

ENERGY AND MATTER MOVE between the land, water, atmosphere, and biosphere — between the four spheres. There are various expressions of these interactions, many of which we can observe in our daily lives. In addition to natural interactions, human activities, such as the clearing of rain forests, can affect interactions between the spheres. Changes in […]

What Are Some Important Earth Cycles?

MATTER AND ENERGY MOVE within and between each of the four spheres. A fundamental principle of all natural sciences is that energy and matter can be neither created nor destroyed, but only transferred from one form to another — the First Law of Thermodynamics. A second principle is that energy and matter tend to become […]

How Do Natural Systems Operate?

EARTH HAS A NUMBER OF SYSTEMS in which matter and energy are moved or transformed. These involve processes of the solid Earth, water in all its forms, the structure and motion of the atmosphere, and how these three domains (Earth, water, and air) influence life. Such systems are dynamic, responding to any changes in conditions, […]

How Do We Investigate Geographic Questions?

PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHERS STUDY DIVERSE PROBLEMS, ranging from weather systems and climate change to ocean currents and landscape evolution. The types of data required to investigate each of these problems are equally diverse, but most geographers try to approach the problem in a similar, objective way, guided by spatial information, and relying on various geographic tools. […]

What Is Physical Geography?

PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY IS THE STUDY of spatial distributions of phenomena across the landscape, processes that created and changed those distributions, and implications for those distributions on people. Geography is both a natural and social science. Geographers think broadly, emphasizing interconnections and complex issues, solving complicated problems such as resource management, environmental impact assessment, disease diffusion, […]

The Nature of Physical Geography

THE EARTH HAS A WEALTH of intriguing features, from dramatic mountains to intricate coastlines and deep ocean trenches, from lush, beautiful valleys to huge areas of sparsely vegetated sand dunes. Above the surface is an active, ever-changing atmosphere with clouds, storms, and variable winds. Occupying all these environments is life. In this chapter and book, […]

Are the Japanese Religious?

When sociological surveys are conducted of contemporary Japanese, only about 26 percent of the public and 12 percent of university students indicate they are religious. Less than a third of Japanese typically indicate they belong to a religious group. When asked to name Japanese religions, few respondents even mention Shinto. Twenty percent of Japanese in […]

Philosophy: Japan, Asia, and the West

Readers of the chapter are obviously aware that the interplay between foreign and indigenous ideas and practices is a major theme in Japanese spiritual traditions, and the same is true regarding philosophical thought. Foreign ideas and concepts that seem to work are retained and modified so as to fit into the culture while what does not […]

Christianity and the ‘‘New’’ Japanese Religions

Christianity, which was present in Japan long before the end of World War II, occupies an unusual position in Japan. Only approximately one percent of Japanese are professed Christian. Yet at specific points in Japanese history, Christian institutions and individuals have exercised considerably more intellectual, social, and cultural influence than might be supposed given today’s […]

Confucianism: The Branches and Leaves of Japanese Civilization?

Prince Shotoku, who as Yamato regent in 604 wrote the first guidelines for Japanese government in his ‘‘constitution,’’ was also alleged to have written in another document that Shinto was the root, Confucianism the branches and leaves, and Buddhism the flowers and fruit of the tree of Japanese civilization. Although the prince didn’t put this assertion […]

Buddhism

Buddhism was a world religion that had existed for 1,000 years when emissaries from the king of the more advanced Korean state of Paekche introduced this complex array of beliefs to the Japanese in 552 CE. Buddha, meaning ‘‘enlightened one,’’ was born Prince Gautama Siddhartha in the Indian Shakya nation around 563 BCE and died […]

Shinto: ‘‘The Way of the Kami’’

The bundle of spiritual rites and practices that we know today as Shinto began in Japanese antiquity and shares many characteristics of ancient early preliterate forms of Western and non-Western religions that were rooted in the earth, nature, and fertility. Like many other earth religions, Shinto has no historical founders such as Jesus, Buddha, or […]

Religion and Thought

Japanese spiritual traditions are a rich blend of ancient beliefs and rites intermingled with regional and even world influences. However, culture shapes religion as much as religion shapes culture, and contemporary Japanese religious and philosophical perspectives constitute a unique melange. Aspects of Japan’s spiritual traditions have even been exported to the West. The indigenous spiritual […]

Conclusion: Japan’s Economic Future

For almost 400 years, Japan has enjoyed a national economy that compared favorably with most of the world’s nations. However, the post–World War II years were unprecedented as the archipelago nation became the world’s second-strongest economic power. Readers of this chapter now understand that despite Japan’s continuing high level of affluence, the nation faces a […]

Trade

Economists concur that voluntary trade, whether domestic or international, promotes economic progress. The richest nations throughout history have consistently been those whose governments created legal and political environments that facilitated trade. The Japanese have engaged in domestic and foreign trade throughout their history, although there were long periods of time when past authoritarian governments severely limited […]

The Two-Tiered Economy

One of the most distinct characteristics of the Japanese economy when it is compared to the economies of most developed nations is the high productivity of large multinational corporations and a few internationally competitive retail and wholesale distributors and the relatively mediocre to poor productivity of those manufacturers that serve primarily the domestic market as […]

Business and Industry: Manufacturing

Western industrialization began with the development of capitalist institutions in Europe in the 1500s, then evolved to more complex levels with the British industrial revolution beginning in the late 18th century, and culminated a century later in the industrial capitalist system of Europe and the United States. The Japanese had a much different experience in […]

Natural Resources Overview

Although readers of the earlier section of this chapter as well as chapter 2 are familiar with the term ‘‘economic miracle,’’ which describes Japan’s high-growth years (mid-1950s–early 1970s), in some ways the real miracle is that the Japanese were able to become the second-richest major nation on earth despite the fact that they have almost […]

Response to Globalization: 1973 to the Present

The Japanese economic miracle ended in 1973 when some Arab nations embargoed oil due to their opposition to American and allied Middle Eastern policies and energy prices subsequently rose throughout the developed world. Still, Japan enjoyed the highest average annual growth rates for a developed country all through the 1970s and 1980s. By the 1980s, Japan […]

Japan Becomes a World Economic Power: 1945–1973

Despite the experience and knowledge of its people, Japan was a devastated nation at the end of World War II. Millions of Japanese were without the basic necessities of life. Approximately one-fourth of all Japanese homes, as well as a high proportion of factories and shops, had been destroyed by the war. Japan was also […]

Industrialization and State-Guided Capitalism: 1868–1945

In the early 1870s, shortly after the Meiji Restoration, Japan’s new political leadership faced the problem of Western imperialism. Japan’s oligarchs quickly decided to build both a strong economy and a strong military in order to negotiate with Western Europe and the United States on an equal footing. Meiji leaders systematically studied various economic models and […]

Economic Systems: The Roots of Success (1600–1868)

Even though Japan’s spectacular economic rise did not occur until the three decades after World War II, the foundations for the so-called economic miracle were laid during the Tokugawa era (1600–1868). Although technologically behind parts of Western Europe and the United States that were industrializing and had more advanced technology, the Tokugawa economy was certainly not […]

Conclusion: Political Challenges and Evolving Government Structures

Much change has occurred in Japan’s political system since roughly the mid-1980s. However, further progress needs to be made. Like any large nation in an increasingly interconnected and fast-changing world, Japan’s problems are complex. The economy is always a paramount issue, and Japan has made substantial progress in rebounding from the serious malaise that lasted […]

The Real World of Japanese Politics: 1985 to the Present

The 1985 Plaza Accords, discussed extensively in the following chapter of this book, where Japan signed an agreement with other major developed nations to raise the value of its artificially undervalued yen, is now looked on as having subsequent major political as well as economic ramifications for Japan. After that agreement, Japan was forced to […]

The Real World of Japanese Politics: 1945–1985

As discussed both here and in the history chapter, democracy grew relatively rapidly in Japan, and the Japanese now have a more than 60-year democratic history. However, Japan’s political history, culture, geography, economy, and changing position in the world, just as is the case with any nation, makes the nature of Japanese democracy unique in […]

Postwar Government and Politics: The Creation of Japanese Democracy and Its Structure

Japan became a democratic country with the adoption of the 1947 Constitution, which has never been amended and remains in effect today. However, since roughly 1985, domestic and international factors have resulted in new challenges and changes for Japan’s political leadership. Before contemporary government and politics can be understood, a discussion of the creation of […]

Japan’s Imperial Period: 1868–1945

Although parts of the domestic political system such as the class structure and tax collection had also become dysfunctional, the crisis caused by the unwanted incursion of American and European powers eventually was the primary reason the Tokugawa government fell. In 1868 a group of young samurai from two domains that had always grudgingly accepted […]

Government and Politics in the Tokugawa Period: 1600–1868

As depicted in the prior chapter, in 1600 Tokugawa Ieyasu, through force of arms and diplomacy, managed to unify a Japan that had been torn by civil war for most of the previous century and intermittent internal strife for much of the 14th century as well. Tokugawa and his descendents who ruled Japan as shoguns […]

Introduction: The Roots of Japan’s Contemporary Government and Politics

Most readers of this book are Americans, and they have studied U.S. government. Imagine attempting to learn about how the American government works without some knowledge of the influence of Great Britain, the motives of the founders of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the formulation of the present […]

Japan’s Path to Prosperity: 1945 to the Present

The years following World War II resulted in more change in Japan than any time since the beginning of the Meiji period. The U.S. occupation under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur initiated this peaceful reconstitution of much of Japanese society. The general almost immediately won the respect and admiration of the Japanese people through […]

Japan and the World: 1853–1945

Few events in Japan’s history have proven as significant as Commodore Perry and his ‘‘black ships,’’ as the Japanese called them. In the years since Perry first arrived, Japan would become the first Asian nation to modernize, attain world power status, lose a disastrous war, and recover to develop a democratic government and the second-largest […]

Tokugawa Japan: An Era of Peace

European influence, particularly new technology, served as a partial catalyst for political change in Japan. Only a few years after Europeans introduced guns to Japan, three powerful leaders—Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu—used advanced firepower to achieve brilliant military successes that resulted in the political unification of Japan. In 1568, at the invitation of […]

Medieval Japan

As the influence of the Fujiwara clan and the central government declined, two powerful provincial families, the Taira and Minamoto, warred against each other in what historians refer to as the Gempei War. In 1185, Yoritomo, the leader of the Minamoto family, defeated the Taira and Fujiwara clans and obtained military control of Japan. In […]

Classical Japan

The Heian period (794–1185) is a critical period of Japanese history. Although the cultural heritage imparted by China and the early Korean states remains a part of Japan, distinct and sophisticated Japanese cultural forms emerged during this period. The new capital city was situated in a nation with an estimated population of 5 million people. Heian, […]

Japan’s Prehistory and Early Mainland Asia Influences

The first people in the archipelago probably walked there via temporary land bridges from the Asian mainland more than 30,000 years ago. There is some archeological evidence that people from Southeast Asia also reached Japan by water in prehistoric times. Archaeologists have used the art of Japan’s earliest known culture to name the first period […]

Introduction: Japan, East Asia, and the World

Many have the stereotype that until relatively recently, the archipelago’s culture developed largely in isolation from the rest of the world. Although there are critical elements of truth in this assumption, it is incorrect in many respects. Throughout history, some Japanese have interacted in a variety of ways with other East Asians and, at times, […]

Japan: History

KEY EVENTS IN JAPANESE HISTORY 11,000–300 BCE Jomon culture 300 BCE–250 CE Yayoi culture 250–552 CE Tomb period (Kofun) 552–710 Late Yamato period 552 Buddhism is transported from Korea to Japan 604 Japan’s 17-point ‘‘constitution’’ is ascribed to Prince Shotoku 645 So-called Taika Reforms are enacted 710 Japan’s first permanent capital is established at Nara […]

The Hazards of Being Japanese

Although virtually all cultures have some level of appreciation for nature, it is particularly pronounced in Japanese culture. The constant attention to the changing seasons in Japanese literature and culture, the classical Japanese garden that is deliberately constructed to celebrate nature, the mass cherry blossom viewing parties of Tokyo office workers, and the deep appreciation of […]

Japan: The Space Problem

Because much of Japan’s land does not lend itself to development, with the exception of Hokkaido, lack of space is a permanent problem. The space squeeze is most serious in cities and particularly acute in such huge metropolitan centers as Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo and numerous other urban areas. When one negotiates Japanese cities, example […]

The Physical and Human Geographies of Japan

With its four major islands—Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku—as well as thousands of smaller ones, Japan has a total land area of approximately 145,825 square miles. The distance from the northernmost tip of Hokkaido to extreme southern Kyushu is approximately the same as the distance from Bangor, Maine, to Mobile, Alabama, in the United States […]

Japan: Geography

As is the case with any people, geography influences contemporary Japanese, and Japan’s physical geography has helped shape culture, the economy, politics, and religions. Geography, while offering some impressive advantages for Japan’s inhabitants, has also often been an obstacle rather than an asset in the Japanese quest for economic development, safety, and security. Beginning with […]

Japan: Preface

It is my hope that Asia in Focus: Japan will be an informative and useful introduction for American readers to one of the world’s most important countries. Currently, the rise of two other important Asian countries, the People’s Republic of China and India, seem to have diverted many Americans’ attentions from Japan. Although I would […]

Jamaica Looks to the Future

As a young nation, Jamaica has experienced a fair measure of inconsistency in its economic and political management. The country faces several major challenges to further development. A stagnating economy, currently beset by a variety of financial crises, must be jump-started. The island’s fragile, but economically critical natural resource base must be protected. Prospects for […]

Living in Jamaica Today

Jamaicans are modern people, and their life is not that different from that in the United States. They dress much like Americans, wearing Nikes, T-shirts, and jeans; watch television; listen to music; and go to movies. British influence is evident in sports and education. Today, popular culture, although uniquely Jamaican, is more often developed on […]

Economy

Jamaica is classified as a less developed country (LDC), as is true of countries throughout the Caribbean and elsewhere in Latin America. The nation faces many problems that hinder economic growth. It also has many advantages that, if properly developed, can boost development. IS JAMAICA A WEALTHY COUNTRY? Gross domestic product (GDP) is one of […]

Jamaica is divided into three counties, which in turn are divided into parishes. In the mid-nineteenth century Jamaica had 22 parishes, but today it has only 14. Each parish has a capital, which is the site of its local government.

Administration and Government

Jamaica is a democratic country but one beset with many problems. This chapter describes and explains the country’s governance, its divisions, and the problems it faces in serving its people. COUNTIES AND PARISHES Jamaica is divided into three counties, each of which is further divided into parishes. In the mid-nineteenth century, Jamaica had a total […]

People and Culture

POPULATION TRENDS Size of population is an important characteristic of any country. It determines the number of houses, schools, and hospitals; the size of the labor force; and the amount of food and water it is likely to need. The total population of Jamaica in July 2003 was an estimated 2.7 million, with an annual […]

History

Jamaica has a remarkable and dramatic history, one of merging peoples and cultures. The island’s inhabitants enjoy a culture that is a blend of traditions from various groups that have come to the island over time. They include the native Taino Indians, the English colonizers, and Africans who were introduced to the Caribbean to perform […]

Jamaica’s land features range from low-lying coastal plains to the Blue Mountain crests that reach nearly 7,500 feet (2,286 meters) in elevation.

Natural Environment

Jamaica has a rich and varied natural environment. The island’s land features range from low-lying coastal plains to the Blue Mountain crests reaching nearly 7,500 feet (2,286 meters) in elevation. Part of the island is a lush tropical paradise, and some areas are dry much of the year making them almost desertlike in appearance and […]

Jamaica is located in the Caribbean Sea about 550 miles (885 kilometers) south of Miami, Florida. It is the third-largest island in the island chain that includes Cuba, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico.

Introducing Jamaica

On a blustery January day, would you like to be on a tropical island? Come to Jamaica, a country of sun-drenched beaches, warm tropical breezes, and a rich cultural heritage. Jamaica is an island nation and a close neighbor of the United States. It is a masterpiece of tropical splendor and extraordinary vistas. The natural […]

Chile Looks Ahead

Pablo Neruda, Chile’s national poet, wrote this poem to express his belief in the spiritual strength of the Chilean people. The nighttime is the darkness of Chile’s uncertain future. The guitar is the land. The Chilean people are the dawn; they have the power and energy to strum the guitar, awaken the darkness, and reveal […]

Living in Chile Today

URBAN LIVING Nearly all Chileans live in cities. The typical Chilean city has traditional-style, adobe buildings and quaint plazas in the older sections. Modern-style offices and other buildings are scattered along major streets. The tallest buildings hardly reach four or five stories in most cities. The suburbs range from hastily built callampa (mushroom in Chilean speech) […]

Economy

Chile has one the world’s best performing economies. A measure of a country’s economic performance is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The GDP is the value of all goods and services produced by a country. From 1990 to 2000, Chile’s GDP grew 5.2 percent annually. This was the highest rate of GDP growth among all […]

Government and Politics

hile has a democratic government that allows every adult the right to vote. Its laws apply to everyone. Its citizens have the right to receive fair trials, and they can meet and discuss freely their political and religious beliefs. As a democratic government, the nation educates its citizens, which enables them to make informed decisions […]

People and Culture

Geography and history formed the crucible from which Chile was born. In the twentieth century, the country survived dictatorships and social upheavals to become a model of democracy in Latin America. Today, the vitality of its people and culture heighten the world’s respect for this small nation even more. POPULATION Chile’s 15.7 million people are […]

Chile Through Time

Chile’s remote location has influenced much of its history. Indigenous peoples of the area lived on the distant fringe of the Inca civilization. Stretching from what is now Ecuador to middle Chile, the Inca Empire preceded the Spanish Empire in the Andes region. The Incas conquered Chile’s northern natives and most of the natives occupying […]

Average Annual Temperatures of Coastal Locations

Physical Landscapes

Three major landform regions divide Chile: the Andes Mountains, the coast and islands, and the Central Valley. The regions run north to south and parallel to each other. The Andes region is an awesome mountain barrier. Its majestic peaks of spectacular height and bone-chilling temperatures define the country’s eastern border. The nation’s coast includes imposing […]

Chile Is located on the southwestern coast of South America, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and Argentina and Bolivia to the east The country has a very unusual shape, consisting of a narrow strip of land running approximately 2,700 miles (4,545 km) along the South American coast However, its maximum width is less than 100 miles (161 km) and its total area of 292,260 square miles (756,950 square kilometers) makes it slightly smaller than Texas.

Chile: Introduction

Chile has a little of everything. It is rich in copper, fruits, forests, and fish. It is a country of dramatic scenery and many climates. Cool waters stroke its shore and icy glaciers crown its peaks. Sighs of volcanoes and jolts of earthquakes shake its ribs. Squeezed between the heights of the mountains and the […]

Cuba Looks Ahead

Admirers of Cuba often call this island nation the “Pearl of the Antilles” because of its beautiful natural and cultural landscapes and its potential riches. In the modern world, Cuba should be a center of trade and wealth. The sad reality is that Cuba has never enjoyed true political independence, and it has degenerated into […]

Living in Cuba Today

Havana is Cuba’s dominant urban center, with one in four city dwellers living there. This Caribbean metropolis is a primate city, which means that Havana is huge in comparison to the size of the next largest city. Indeed, its metropolitan population of about 3.7 million is several times larger than Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s second […]

Cuba’s Economy

The Castro government transformed the Cuban economy from capitalism to Marxist-Leninist Socialism. The main element of Marxist-Leninist Socialism is the governments “nationalization of all means of production.” This phrase means that the government takes over ownership of all farms, factories, warehouses, railroads, banks, and so on. The government also sets all prices, wages, and salaries […]

Government and Politics

Spain did not create political units on Cuba until 1827. In that year, the Spanish began to govern the island through three loosely defined departments: Occidental (Western), Central (Central), and Oriente (Eastern). The departments were under the command of a captain general who lived in Havana. Each department had several towns. The towns had broad […]

People and Culture

Cuba has the largest population among Caribbean countries, nearly 11.5 million inhabitants. The island’s population is highly urbanized, with 76 percent of the people living in cities. With so many people in cities, rural areas are sparsely settled. Like two poles of a magnet, Cuba’s population is concentrated on opposite ends of the island. Thirty-eight […]

Cuba Through Time

The Siboney and Guanahatabey Indians are the earliest known inhabitants of Cuba. They arrived there sometime after 3500 b.c. Both groups lived in small temporary settlements. Their dwellings were concentrated near the ocean, because sea life was their main source of food. They gathered clams, mussels, crabs, and lobsters; hunted manatees and sea turtles; and […]

Huge mountains cover more than one-third of the total land area of this island nation. The remaining parts of the island are flat plains and rolling hills. Cuba is the principal island and is surrounded by four main groups of islands: the Colorados, the Sabana-Camagüey, the Jardines de la Reina, and the Canarreos. The nation’s highest point is the Pico Real del Turquino (6,578 feet or 2,005 meters), located in the Sierra Maestra mountains.

Physical Landscapes

Although we often speak of Cuba as one island, Cuba is actually an archipelago, or group of islands, whose total combined area is 42,803 square miles (110,860 square kilometers). Cuba is the largest island in this archipelago, making up 95 percent of the total land area of the island group. The second largest island, Isla […]

Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean islands and is the sixteenth largest island in the world. It is located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean and is approximately 42,803 square miles (110,860 square kilometers), or slightly smaller than Pennsylvania.

Introducing Cuba

Cuba is an alligator-shaped island and the largest country in the Caribbean Sea. It is located just south of the Tropic of Cancer (23 1/2° north latitude). Florida lies just 90 miles (145 kilometers) to the north and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico is to the west. Cuba is one of the Caribbean region’s Greater […]

The Dominican Republic Looks Ahead

Many countries, especially those that have what they believe is a glorious history, tend to look to the past more than to the future. Certainly, the Dominican Republic has a long and honored history, but it also has experienced almost-constant social, political, and economic turbulence. During recent years, however, things have begun to change. Democracy […]

Living in the Dominican Republic Today

What is it like to live in the Dominican Republic today? What are the benefits and burdens of being a Dominican resident? In this chapter, we take a look at the Dominicans today in order to better understand the people and their way of life. A CULTURE IN TRANSITION The Dominican culture has been flexible, […]

The Dominican Republic’s Economy

country’s economy is the engine that fuels its daily life and determines the well-being of its citizens. Whether it’s providing transportation systems or jobs and consumer products or public services, a country’s economy has a significant influence on the daily activities of citizens and is the lifeblood of a country. Thus, the health of the […]

Government and Politics

Santo Domingo is the capital and largest city of the Dominican Republic. It has a history that stretches back more than 500 years to the time of brothers Christopher and Bartholomew Columbus. Bartholomew founded the settlement of Nueva Isabella (New Isabella) in 1496, which officially became Santo Domingo in 1498. Santo Domingo is the first […]

People and Culture

Nearly 10 million people call the Dominican Republic home. Most of them are of mixed European and African ancestry. Most Dominicans live in cities, although much of the country’s rural landscape is densely packed. In this chapter you will learn about the Dominican people. You will get a glimpse of their demographics (demography is the […]

The Dominican Republic Through Time

Studying the history of a place is an important process. It helps to examine the various pieces and elements that have come together to form the country and culture being examined—in this case the Dominican Republic. What are these pieces? They range from the first peoples who inhabited the island to the outside influences that […]

The Dominican Republic is home to sugar plantations, four major rivers, many lakes and lagoons, and five important mountain ranges. Although the climate year-round is tropical—earning it the nickname “the endless summer”—temperatures as low as 32ºF (0ºC) are possible in the mountains.

Physical Landscapes

The natural environment forms the foundation upon which all human societies depend for their survival. This is not to say that nature determines the way people live within a particular natural setting. To the contrary, a people’s culture, or their way of life, is determined by human ingenuity—what they have learned and are able to […]

Introduction to the Dominican Republic

For many readers, the Dominican Republic means but one thing—baseball players! It is true that on a per capita basis, no place in the world produces more highly skilled professional baseball players than does this small Caribbean country. But the Dominican Republic offers so much more. In this book, you will learn why the “D.R.” […]

Conclusion

As biologists have learned more about the physiology of plants, the biochemical reactions involved in their growth, maintenance, and reproduction, and in their genetic composition, it has proved necessary to rename the science of botany. The study of plants is no longer a single discipline, but a group of related disciplines that are known collectively […]

Saving the Tropical Forests

Tropical forests cover about 6 percent of the Earth’s land area. It is difficult to be precise about the area, but in 2009 tropical forests of all types probably occupied approximately 7 million square miles (18 million km2). As well as rain forests, the Tropics support seasonal forest, dry forest, and mangrove forest, and all […]

National Parks and Nature Reserves

In 1830 the American painter and author George Catlin (1796–1872) set off on a journey up the Mississippi River into Native American lands at the start of a diplomatic mission led by General William Clark (1770–1838). By 1836 Catlin had visited 50 tribes, and in the following two years he visited 18 more on a journey […]

The Advance of Agriculture and the Retreat of Wilderness

People began to cultivate crop plants about 11,500 years ago in Southwest Asia and more recently in every other part of the populated world. At first, the early crops faced severe competition from wild plants, but in time the farmers overcame them, at least partially. It was not only their chosen plant species that the […]

What Is Biodiversity?

There are certain words that everyone uses but that are exceedingly difficult to define precisely. Biodiversity is one such word: The term is a contraction of biological diversity, which seems simple enough. Obviously, it means the variety of living organisms that inhabit our planet. Unfortunately, the apparently simple definition leads to difficulties. If it refers […]

Arthur Tansley and the Plants of Britain

Ecology is now accepted as a scientific discipline in its own right, and there are professional ecologists. This is due in no small measure to the influence of another gifted teacher and writer, the English ecologist Arthur G. Tansley (1871–1955). Tansley always insisted on strict definitions, rigorous use of language, and learning about natural communities […]

Eugen Warming and the Principles of Plant Ecology

The first textbook on plant ecology was published in 1895 in Copenhagen, Denmark, entitled Plantesamfund: Grundtræk af den økologiske Plantegeografi. It was translated into German in 1896 and again in 1902, into Polish in 1900, and into Russian in 1901 and again in 1903. It first appeared in English in 1909, published by the Clarendon […]

Carl Georg Oscar Drude and Plant Formations

Tropical forests extend across a vast area of Central and South America, West and Central Africa, South Asia, and northern Australia. A belt of coniferous forest stretches across northern Canada and Eurasia. The North American prairies, South American pampas, and Eurasian steppe are temperate grasslands. It would be easy to suppose that a visitor might […]