Comparing Life in the Caribbean, Central & South America

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Mapping the Physical & Human Characteristics of Europe

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 The Caribbean
  • 1:25 Central America
  • 2:35 South America
  • 3:40 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson explores life in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. In doing this, it highlights European influence, tourism, language and the economies of the three regions.

The Caribbean

Through most of my school years, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America were only discussed during units on colonization. Once we got past Europe taking over the new world, our neighbors to the south almost seemed forgotten. Today, we're going to remedy this a bit by taking a look at life in these three regions. Of course, since this is such a huge topic that could take up several courses, we'll stick to breadth rather than depth. Let's start our survey with the Caribbean.

The Caribbean is made up of about 7,000 islands surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. The three largest islands of the Caribbean are Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispaniola.

Although life definitely differs among the islands, there are some generalities we can make. For instance, life in the Caribbean is heavily influenced by the tourism industry. With its beautiful white beaches and its tropical temperatures, the region attracts visitors from all over the world. Capitalizing on its positives, many in the Caribbean support themselves and their families through tourism.

Speaking of outsiders coming to visit, life in the Caribbean still speaks of European colonization. Because they were colonized by the very Catholic Spain, many of the islands' people are staunchly Catholic. For example, the majority of Haiti's population is Catholic. Along the same lines, Spanish is considered the predominant language of the region.

Leaving the sunny beaches of the Caribbean, let's hit Central America.

Central America

Central America is the isthmus that connects North America to South America. An isthmus is a narrow strip of land, surrounded by sea, which connects two larger landmasses. Like the Caribbean, Central America has been heavily influenced by Europe. For instance, much of the region claims Catholicism as its predominant religion and Spanish as the language of choice.

When discussing life in Central America, the phrase 'developing world' is usually used. Keeping things simple, developing world is used to denote regions with little industry, struggling economies, and poor living conditions. Being a difficult place to live, most of Central America has very low literacy rates and short life spans for its people. Of all the Central American countries, Nicaragua is usually considered the least developed.

While many in the Caribbean make their living through tourism, most Central Americans make their living through farming. In fact, coffee is one of the region's biggest exports. Along with coffee, bananas also make up a large part of the region's profits. This is why countries like Panama and Honduras are sometimes referred to as 'banana republics', or small countries dependent on one export, like bananas.

South America

Let's move on to South America, which has a population of about 380 million. When discussing life in South America, we see many similarities with the Caribbean and Central America. Like these two, European colonization has molded the area. For instance, Brazil claims the European language of Portuguese as its official tongue. Also just like the country of Portugal, Brazil's predominant faith is Catholicism.

Being such a huge area, actually the fourth largest continent of our world, life in South America varies greatly from place to place. There is the bustling city life of places like Buenos Aires, Argentina, where people make their money from things as varied as tourism to the fashion industry.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account