How Resources Drive Movement in the Caribbean, Central & South America

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  • 0:00 Movement
  • 0:50 The Caribbean
  • 2:10 Central America
  • 3:40 South America
  • 5:05 Lesson Summary
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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 the theme of geographical movement. It discusses the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. It highlights tourism, the Banana Republics, and the industrialization of South America.


When people hear the term 'geography,' they often just think maps and locations. However, the study of geography encompasses way more than this. For instance, a major theme in geography is the study of movement. Speaking geographically, movement is how places are connected to the world around them. Movement encompasses why a people come to an area or why they leave an area. It also includes discussion on what products or resources an area offers to the world.

Today, we'll be taking a look at this part of movement as we discuss how the resources of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America drive movement within not only these three regions, but the world. Let's start our look at resources and movement by taking a look at the Caribbean.

The Caribbean

The Caribbean is made up of thousands of islands surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico. Quite amazingly, it's believed there are over 7,000 islands in the Caribbean!

When speaking of resources and movement, each island has its own unique characteristics. However, there are a few generalizations we can make about the region's resources and how they affect movement. For starters, the Caribbean's tropical climate greatly impacts movement.

Capitalizing on its beautiful beaches, its warm temps, and its beautiful vegetation, the region uses these natural resources in the same way others use things like oil, gold, and silver. However, rather than exporting their natural resources to the world, the Caribbean uses them to entice people in. To say the least, they're rather successful at it. Islands like St. Croix, St. Vincent, and Jamaica attract millions of tourists a year. Yes, many of the islands also have more traditional natural resources. They also export things like fish, iron, and even petroleum. However, when it comes to affecting movement, its tropical climate makes a huge splash.

Remembering that geographical movement denotes how places are connected to the world around them and how things and people move in and out of a region, let's take a look at Central America and its resources.

Central America

Taking a look at our map, Central America is the land bridge that connects North America to South America. The technical term for this is an isthmus. An isthmus is a narrow piece of land, surrounded by water that joins two bigger landmasses.

Map of Central America

When discussing why people live and come to an area, and what resources it offers to the world, Central America is a difficult case. To explain, much of Central America exists in poverty. Although the region has natural resources like gold, silver, lead, coal, and timber, a history of political instability has made it very difficult for the region to capitalize on them. In fact, many Central American countries are almost completely dependent on just one agriculture product for their survival. For many, it's either coffee or bananas.

Due to their inability to capitalize on their resources, Central America's place in the world tends to be one of dependence. In fact, the world refers to many of the countries as Banana Republics. This nickname means they are small countries reliant on one crop and heavily influenced by foreign money. In other words, movement in Central America is heavily influenced by the governments and money of other countries and regions.

Yes, countries like Costa Rica have made great strides. Exporting things like coffee, bananas, pineapples, and palm oil, they have begun to improve their economies. Not only are they attracting tourists, they have begun enticing foreign investors.

Traveling further south, we hit South America.

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