Major Climates of the Caribbean, Central & South America

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  • 0:00 The Caribbean
  • 1:35 Central America
  • 2:40 South America
  • 3:30 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 climates of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. It will focus on precipitation, geography, and temperature variation.

The Caribbean

If you're a sun lover, this lesson on the climates of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America will be right up your alley. Yes, these sun-drenched areas do have their cons, but having to wear long underwear is definitely not one of them!

As we take a tour of these three areas, let's keep in mind that climate definitely varies due to things like elevation and proximity to water. For this reason, we're going to stick to a general overview of all three regions. Let's get rolling 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 Caribbean's climate is a tropical one. With average temperatures typically hovering in the 80s and usually not dropping below 60 or above 100, it's perfect bathing suit weather!

Where North America's climate tends to be delineated by winter, spring, summer, and fall, the Caribbean tends to be more about the rainy season versus the dry season. If you visit from about May to October, you'll probably want to bring an umbrella. These months tend to have the most rainfall. And if you plan on visiting between June through about November, you may want to get trip insurance since you'll be venturing into hurricane season. These hurricanes usually come to life over the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. When they hit land, the results can be tragic.

Of course, geography also has lots to do with rainfall amounts and climate. For instance, the windward side, or 'the side facing the wind', of islands with mountains tend to get hit with way more rain than those with flat elevations.

Central America

Next, we come to 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 tends to be rather warm. Its weather pattern is also characterized by a very wet season and a dry season. Yes, the temps are usually warm during each, but there's a big difference in how much rain falls from the sky.

Central America's wet season runs from about November to May. However, this doesn't mean that the rest of the year is dry as a bone. Quite the contrary, most of the region is hot and sticky throughout the year. In other words, it's humid for sure! In fact, temps usually average in the 80s along the coast. If this is too hot for you, you may want to stick to the more mountainous regions. There, temperatures tend to hover in the 60s.

While the Caribbean has to deal with hurricanes, Central America is known for some pretty violent thunderstorms. Yes, hurricanes sometimes come to town, but impressive thunder and lightning is more the norm.

South America

Last, we come to South America. Being the fourth largest continent, the climate of South America really, really varies. Talking about the climate of such a vast area will definitely take some generalizing!

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