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General overview

Mexico is not in South America; it is in North America. Costa Rica is not in South America either; it is a Central American country. And Bermuda, though generally lumped together with the Caribbean islands, is actually in the Atlantic –  at about the same latitude as Charleston, South Carolina.

  • 1. MEXICO ; 

Mexico is the nation just south of the U.S. border,  continuing south (and connecting Mexico to the continent of South America ) is the cluster of nations making CENTRAL AMERICA (From north to south , they are Belize , Guatemala ,  Honduras , El Salvador,  Nicaragua , Costa Rica , and Panama).  Then comes SOUTH AMERICA. Except for Bolivia and Paraguay,  both of which are landlocked in the center of the continent,  South America’s countries are located almost in a circle along the coast; BRAZIL (is by far the largest country in South America). Indeed, slightly larger than the contiguous United States, occupying nearly half the continent as it protrudes to the east ; continuing clockwise , there are URUGUAY, ARGENTINA , CHILE , PERU , ECUADOR , COLOMBIA , VENEZUELA , and the GUINAS(Guyana , Suriname , and French Guiana).

  • 2. BAHAMAS & BERMUDA;

The Bahamas and Bermuda are not officially part of the Caribbean Islands.  They are actually north of the Caribbean Sea, in the Atlantic.

  • The most Prominent Features in Latin America( South America );

Two of the world’s great natural wonders predominate;  The Amazon River and the Andes Mountain range. Many Lakes also dot the land,  wide grasslands sprout up, rivers criss cross the countryside, even a bleak desert area edges the continent’s west coast. And,  of course, there are thousands of Islands, some floating isolated in the Caribbean Sea,  others seemingly broken off  from the south and central American Mainland.

  • Bodies of water ;

The vast waters surrounding central and south America (the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east). The Gulf of Mexico is bordered by Mexico to its west and the U.S to its north. Southeast of the Gulf is the CARIBBEAN SEA (which opens onto the Atlantic). Another gulf,  though much smaller than the Gulf of Mexico,  also stands out from your vantage point;  splitting the BAJA PENINSULA – from the rest of Mexico is the Gulf of California (also called the sea of Cortes).   The Amazon,  one of the world’s major rivers,  runs from west to east almost across the entire breadth of northern South America, finally emptying into the Atlantic. A great many tributaries flow into the Amazon,  creating the massive Amazon Basin, which affects much of the continent’s (and,  for that matter , the world’s) weather.  It is here in the north that you can see South America’s lush,  tropical jungles. A few other major rivers are noteworthy. In the south,  the Rio Parana and Rio Uruguay connect to the major estuary,   Rio de la Plata , which in turn flows into the Atlantic . In the north,  Venezuela’s Orinoco River also empties into the Atlantic,  just east of the Caribbean.  A few good  – sized lakes interrupt the landscape. In Central America is Lake Nicaragua. As you gaze down to northern parts of South America, there is Lake Maracaibo. And,  finally, at the western bend of the continent is Lake Titicaca, a popular resort area between Peru and Bolivia. Further south,  just east of the Andes, is the Lake District of Argentina; this is a major resort region. The southwestern portion of the continent breaks up into a mass of Islands (separated at its tip by the straight of Magellan). Far west (2,300 miles, actually) is Easter Island, a fascinating destination. Two other island groupings catch your eye; The Galapagos Islands (a popular expedition site), off the northwest coast;  and the Falkland

Islands, off the coast to the south east. One final feature is highly significant. Splitting the isthmus connecting Mexico and South America – is the man – made Panama Canal.

  • Mountains;

The Andes, beginning in the northwest corner of South America and following the western coast down to the very southern tip. These mountains greatly influence life in the western part of the continent. A few popular ski resorts can even be found in their southern reaches.  One other range is apparent;  two beaches of the SIERRA MADRES parallel Mexico’s east and east and west coasts, finally joining south of Mexico City.

  • Climate;

As a rule, the weather in much of Latin America and the Caribbean is hot and humid, with frequent summer afternoon cloud bursts (though winters in the south can get chilly). The Amazon Basin is extremely hot, humid, and rainy year round. Mexico is also hot, but the central plateau area tends to be more temperate and dry. Mountain temperatures,  of course, are colder.  And on the west coast of South America, from the northern border of Chile southward for about 600 miles, is the ATACAMA, Perhaps the driest desert in the world. Ocean temperatures on South America’s east coast are quite warm, though waters off the west coast can be cold, since the prevailing currents carry water up from the Antarctic. Even the Galapagos Islands,  which lie virtually on the equator,  are surrounded by surprisingly cool ocean waters. Much of the region lies south of the equator, which bisects the northern part of South America. As a result, most of the continent has seasons that are opposite to those of the Northern Hemisphere; summer is December through March, and winter (which tends to be the rainiest season) is June through September).

  • 2. THE CARIBBEAN (A sea of Nations);

Furthermore, each Island may have its very own government, culture, value level, range of services and accommodations, topography, and language. Caribbean is divided into 6 destination groupings;

  • 1. Bermuda & Bahamas;

Bermuda and the Bahamas –   are not even part of the Caribbean, though many think of them as such. Bermuda is way off in the Atlantic , at about the same latitude as Charleston,  South Carolina;  and the Bahamas is a string of 700 Islands that stretches southeastward from Florida into the Atlantic (and not into the central Caribbean sea , which is farther south ) .

  • 2. Greater Antilles;

Geographers label the third cluster the Greater Antilles (‘greater’ because most of them are large). Just south and southeast of Florida, they are from,  left to right on the world map (Cuba, the Cayman Islands; Jamaica;  Haiti and the Dominican Republic) –   which together make up One Island, HISPANIOLA; and Puerto Rico.

  • 3. The fourth set of Islands (lesser Antilles);

The fourth set of Islands forms  a crescent on the Caribbean’s eastern side, starting near Puerto Rico and curving gently southward toward the shores of Venezuela. Because of their comparatively small size, they are called  the ‘Lesser Antilles.’  They are,  from north to south (The virgin Islands,  St. martin,  Antigua, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago.

  • 4. The fifth cluster of destinations (ABC Islands);

The fifth cluster of destinations is just northwest of Caracas, Venezuela (Aruba,  Bonaire, and Curacao, often called the ABC Islands because of their first letters).

  • 5. The 6 Caribbean destination groupings;

The  Caribbean destinations forming the sixth group are not islands at all (they are the mainland cities that encircle the Caribbean, especially those of Mexico, Columbia, Venezuela, and Central America).

 NOTE: The Caribbean islands were once called the West Indies, since early explorers thought that they had arrived in India. And the origin of the word Antilles is shrouded in mystery,  though it is certainly French and probably means ‘Land near the continent.’  

Top attractions in Caribbean;

  • 1. Dickenson Bay, Antigua
  • 2. Admiralty Bay, St  Vincet & the Grenadines
  • 3. Blue Lagoon island, Nassau, Bahamas
  • 4. Seven mile Beach, Cayman islands
  • 5. Pigeon point, Trinidad and Tobago
  • 6. Loquillo, Puerto Rico.
  • 7. Grand Anse Beach, Grenada.
  • 8. Frenchman’s cove Beach, Jamaica.
  • 9. Harbour Island – Bahamas.
  • 10. Barbados – Bathsheba.

Top attractions in South America (Latin America);

  • 1. Peru – Machu picchu.
  • 2. Chile – Easter Island.
  • 3. Brazil – Iguazu Falls.
  • 4. Venezuela – Caracas Cathedral.
  • 5. Chile – Valle De la Luna.
  • 6. Brazil –  Rio De  Janeiro.
  • 7. Argentina – Parque Nacional Talampaya.
  • 8. Argentina –  Recoleta cemetery.
  • 9. Ecuador – Galapagos Islands.
  • 10. Colombia – Cartagena.
  • 11. Cuba –  Havana.
  • 12. Guyana –  Kaieteur Falls.
  • 13. Quito – Ecuador.
  • 14. Potosi –  Bolivia.

Top attractions in Central America (Latin America);

  • 1. Corcovado National Park – Costa Rica
  • 2. Chirripo National Park – Costa Rica.
  • 3. Panama Canal –  Panama City.
  • 4. Volcano Masaya National Park – Nicaragua.
 
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