Central America - Caribbean
The Caribbean islands together with the Central America mainland bridge form
Central America, located between North and South America. The Caribbean islands
include the archipelagos of the Greater and Lesser Antilles and the
Bahamas. With the exception of the Bahamas, they are located in the tropics and
are predominantly covered with lush tropical vegetation.
Devastating hurricanes often develop over the Caribbean Sea. The majority of
the Caribbean countries are poor, agrarian structured developing countries,
whose economy is based on the cultivation of export crops and tourism.
The Caribbean and the Central America mainland bridge together form Central
America, located between North and South America. The Caribbean includes the
Central American island world, which delimits the Gulf of Mexico and the
Caribbean Sea to the Atlantic (Fig. 1).
The island world consists essentially of the Caribbean or West Indies, which
have a total area of approximately 240,000 km², which corresponds to that of
Great Britain. They extend in a wide, almost 4000 km long arch between the North
American peninsula Florida and the north coast of South America on the delta of
There are three island groups: the Greater Antilles with the islands of Cuba,
Hispaniola (with the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Jamaica and Puerto Rico,
the Lesser Antilles and the Bahamas. The Lesser Antilles in turn include the
islands above the wind (Virgin Islands/Trinidad) and the islands below the
wind (Aruba to the Isla de Margarita).
The Caribbean Sea forms the southern part of the American Mediterranean and
is almost completely enclosed by Central America and the West Indies. Only in
the northwest is it connected to the Gulf of Mexico by the 190 km wide Yucatan
road. While the average depth is around 2000 m, it reaches its deepest point in
the Cayman Trench at a considerable 7680 m.
The surface shape of the islands is very diverse. For example, Cuba mainly
consists of flat, undulating lowlands (limestone tablets), which are dominated
by heavily karstified mountains. Similar structures can be found in Jamaica. The
Lesser Antilles islands, e.g. B. Antigua, Grenada, St. Lucia or Domenica, on the
other hand, are predominantly volcanic in origin and are dominated by volcanic
cones (Fig. 3).
Depending on their location, the islands of the Greater and Lesser Antilles
always have a humid or alternating humid tropical climate. The climate of the
islands is tempered by the northeast trade wind and influenced by the
altitude. The highest rainfall of more than 6000 mm per year falls on the
eastern side of the mountains. Characteristic of the Caribbean region
are hurricanes (tropical cyclones) occurring in late summer, which often
devastate entire islands. The original vegetation, especially evergreen tropical
rainforests and mountain forests, has given way to the influence of humans in
large parts of the islands.
|Saint Vincent an
||Port of Spain
The Caribbean, the indigenous people of the island world, were almost
eradicated when Europeans colonized the Antilles in the 18th century. Today only
a few thousand descendants of the indigenous people live on Domenica (and in
Central American Guatemala). With the exception of Haiti and Domenica, where the
majority of the population is made up of African descendants, the population of
common descendants dominates on the other islands. The predominant religion in
the Caribbean is Catholicism, but here it is often mixed with African cults, in
Haiti, for example, the Woodu cult.
Like the countries of Central America, those of the Caribbean are among the least
developed developing countries. The dominant branch of industry in
which large land holdings (plantations and plantations) predominate is
agriculture. Above all, export crops such as coffee, cocoa,
coconuts, sugar cane, tobacco, bananas and cotton are produced. One of the most
important sources of income for most states in the Caribbean is tourism, which
is based in the wonderful nature and pleasant climate of most islands.
The Great Lakes of North America
The Great Lakes of North America are located on the border between Canada and
the United States. The five lakes are the largest inland water surface on
earth. In the order of their area size belong the
- Upper Lake as the largest,
- Lake Huron
- Lake Michigan,
- Lake Erie and
- Lake Ontario as the smallest lake
to the Great Lakes. The St. Lawrence River drains the lakes to the
Atlantic. Also due to the cheap transportation routes, the largest industrial
conurbation in the USA, the Manufacturing Belt, has developed on the Great
The Great Lakes are mostly in the central lowlands of North America. In the
west they reach into the Great Plains, in the north they border
on the Canadian shield. Located in the border area between the
USA and Canada, two thirds of its area belongs to the USA and one third to
Canada (Fig. 1).
The Great Lakes originated in the Pleistocene ( Ice Age ), where the surface
shape of the north of North America was shaped by repeated advances of the
inland ice, similar to Europe.
In the Great Lakes area, glacier tongues of the inland ice have excavated deep
pools since the last icing. Moraines were deposited on the southern bank regions
of the lakes. The basin, which today fills the Upper Lake, was excavated
particularly deep, about 200 meters below today's sea level.
With 245,000 km², the lake system is the largest
inland water surface on earth. All lakes together
occupy an area the size of the Federal Republic of Germany. If you add their
catchment areas, they are three times larger in area than Germany.
With 19000 km² it is the smallest and most easterly of the Great Lakes. While
the average depth is 80 m, it is almost 250 m deep at its deepest point. It gets
its water from Lake Erie across the Niagara River. The collected water masses
from all lakes (approx. 6540 m³/s at the lake exit) flow from Lake Ontario
into the Sankt-Lorenz-Strom.
The second smallest of the lakes with an area of almost 26,000 km² is the
shallowest of all five lakes with an average depth of 18 m. It receives its
water over the St. Clair River from Lake Huron and drains over the Niagara
River. Where the Niagara falls over hard limestone and dolomite layers into a
gorge that it has eroded into soft slate since the Pleistocene, it forms the
famous Niagara Falls. An island at the top of the gorge divides the Niagara into
two arms with two waterfalls. The 675 m wide and 54 m high horseshoe fall is on
the Canadian side. The American Falls, 325 m wide and 56 m high, plunge down on
the American shore. Because of the erosion, the two waterfalls “hike” about 1 m
upstream each year. Starting from Lake Erie, the 550 km long Erie Canal connects
the Great Lakes area with the Hudson River and thus with the industrial area
around New York on the east coast of the USA.
This lake is the only one in the United States and is connected to Lake Huron
by the Mackinac Strait.
Named after the Indian tribe of the Hurons, which previously lived on its
banks, this lake connects the Michigan and the Upper Lake with Lake Erie. With
an area of around 58,000 km², it is the second largest of all lakes.
The upper lake
It is the largest and highest lake. Its area of around 84,000 km² exceeds
that of Lake Constance 150 times. With a length of approx. 650 km and a width of
up to 260 km, it is the largest freshwater lake in the world. Its
lowest point measures 405 m. The Upper Lake, which draws its water from around
200 rivers, releases an average of 2100 m³ of water to Lake Huron per second via
the St. Mary`s River.
There are important industrial centers on the shores of the Great Lakes, such
as Chicago and Detroit on Lake Michigan or Cleveland on Lake Erie, which are
part of the traditional manufacturing belt of the USA. The connection of the
Great Lakes with one another through rivers, canals and locks and over the St.
Lawrence River with the Atlantic created inexpensive transport routes and
promoted industrial development on the lakes. Medium-sized ocean-going vessels
can now “travel” 4000 kilometers deep into the continent on these routes.