Back To CourseGeography: Middle School
55 chapters | 528 lessons
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Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.
Dear friends of mine live in Costa Rica. Whenever they send pictures they're usually standing in front of striking plants or posing next to rainbow-colored flowers. It makes my eyes water with jealously! Yes, the pine trees and mountains of Pennsylvania are beautiful, but there's something about palm trees and brightly feathered birds that just calls to you! To dive into my friends' colorful region, let's take a look at the plant and animal life of the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. We'll start our studies with the Caribbean.
The Caribbean is an island group made up of about 7,000 islands bordering the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike the soils of the U.S., most of the Caribbean is volcanic in origin. This makes the soil very fertile, giving the islands stunning and varied vegetation. For instance, flowers thrive in the volcanic soil of the Caribbean. Beautiful blooms from plants like the hibiscus, bougainvillea, and orchid create a feast for the eyes! Along with these blooms, it's believed the Caribbean has over 13,000 species of vegetation. Of course, this amazing variety only helps to boost the Caribbean's thriving tourism industry.
Like most places, the natural vegetation of the Caribbean has been changed by human interaction. Where there were once lush forests, land has been cleared to make way for farming sugarcane. Yes, there are still forests full of gigantic ferns, huge elephant ear plants, cedar trees, and mahogany trees. However, much of this exotic vegetation has fallen victim to deforestation: the clearing of trees or transforming a forest into cleared land.
Moving onto wildlife, the Caribbean is known for its birds and reptiles. Yes, the islands have things like rodents, manatee, and seals, but the region is really famous for its birds and reptiles. Quite remarkably, the islands are home to over 600 species of birds and 500 species of reptiles. Many of these species are unique to the Caribbean. In other words, unless they've been imported, you won't see them flying or crawling free anywhere else. With such beautiful birds and interesting reptiles, it's not odd to see the macaw, the parrot, or the gecko used to symbolize the Caribbean. Now to Central America.
Central America is the landmass that connects the North American continent to South America. Using some geographical language, Central America is an isthmus - it is a thin piece of land surrounded by sea that bridges two larger landmasses. Being sort of a bridge between North and South America, Central America's vegetation shares characteristics of both continents. Like South America, eastern Central America is home to rainforests. These rainforests supply Central America with many varieties of ferns, vines, orchids, and palms. Of course, all of these exist under the canopy of towering broadleaved trees.
With this lush vegetation, Central America also has an amazing, almost incalculable, variety of wildlife. Its tropical regions are home to monkeys, crocodiles, bats, frogs, snakes, sloths, turtles, jaguars, and more! Moving away from the tropical rainforest, the central mountains of the region look a lot more like the forests of the United States. With their high elevations, they are home to hardwood trees like oaks, walnuts, they have pines, and all sorts of evergreens.
Moving further south, we end with South America. By landmass, it's the fourth largest continent of our world. For this reason, its plant and animal life is extremely varied. Perhaps most famously, South America is home to the Amazon Rain Forest, the largest rainforest in the world! Like the rainforests of Central America, the Amazon houses huge canopy trees, gigantic ferns, snakes big enough to scare anyone, sloths, anteaters, electric eels, and piranha.
In striking contrast to the Amazon, South America is also home to the Atacama Desert. Considered the driest place on Earth, water is so sparse here that even cactus, not to mention wild life, have a hard time making a go of it! Yes, they survive, but vegetation and wildlife is very sparse. Quite crazily, birds like flamingoes and penguins manage to survive along the Atacama's coastline, while scavengers, like mice, scrape a living off the desert's floor.
The Caribbean is an island group made up of about 7,000 islands surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. The volcanic soils of the Caribbean islands make the region's vegetation both beautiful and varied. Flowers like hibiscus, bougainvillea, and orchids dot the region. Along with lush vegetation, the Caribbean is also famous for its many, many species of birds and reptiles. Sadly, much of the Caribbean's vegetation and wildlife has been affected, if not destroyed, by deforestation: the clearing of trees or transforming a forest into cleared land.
Central America is the landmass that connects the North American continent to South America. It is an isthmus. An isthmus is a thin piece of land surrounded by sea that bridges two larger landmasses. Central America's vegetation shares traits of both North and South America. Eastern Central America is home to rainforests. These rainforests are home to a variety of tropical ferns, vines, and flowers. They're also home to a plethora of wildlife species. From crocodiles to bats to jaguars, they are teeming with life. The central mountainous region of Central America is home to forests full of hardwood trees like oaks, walnuts, it has pines, and evergreens.
South America is the fourth largest continent of our world. It is home to the Amazon Rain Forest, the largest rainforest in the world! The rainforest and its massive canopy of trees is home to ferns, palms, snakes, sloths, eels, piranha, and so much more! South America is also home to the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth. Despite its treacherous climate and its dry-as-a-bone air, some species of birds and scavengers manage to carve out a life in this desert.
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Back To CourseGeography: Middle School
55 chapters | 528 lessons