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South America Reading

South America Reading

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Published by Rem-State

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Rem-State on Sep 15, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The LandSouth America, the fourth largest continent, contains the world's highest waterfall, AngelFalls, the largest river (by volume), the Amazon River, the longest mountain range, theAndes, the driest desert, Atacama, the largest rainforest, the Amazon Rainforest, thehighest capital city, La Paz, Bolivia, and the world's southernmost city, Ushuaia,ArgentinaIn the high reaches of the Andes mountains, along the border between Bolivia andPeru, lies one of the highest regions inhabited by people anywhere in the world. Here inthe "altiplano" farmers raise sheep, llamas and alpacas, as they have for thousands of years. But unlike most farmlands, the altiplano is surrounded by jagged mountains,volcanic peaks that drop steeply down to deserts in some places, to rain forests in others,and on the western side, to a deep trench of the Pacific Ocean. It's home to some of the planet's largest volcanoes, and in the far south along the coast of Chile, large ice sheetsare commonplace.The Amazon River Basin is home to the largest rainforest on Earth. The basin --roughly the size of the forty-eight contiguous United States -- covers some 40% of theSouth American continent. Reflecting environmental conditions as well as past humaninfluence, the Amazon is made up of ecosystems and vegetation types includingrainforests, seasonal forests, deciduous forests, flooded forests, and savannas. The basinis drained by the Amazon River, The largest of the world's rivers in terms of volume of water discharged into the sea is the Amazon. The river system is the lifeline of the forestand its history plays an important part in the development of its rainforestsThe South American Eastern Highlands lie on the eastern side of the continent.These highlands belong to the older geologic period almost of the same time as that of theAppalachian Highlands. They are divided into north and the south sections. The northernone is known as Guiana Highlands which consists of a vast plateau, marked by deepgorges, tropical rain forests, and home to Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world.
The southern section known as the Brazilian Highlands, about 800 miles in length andincludes several mountain ranges.The Plains lowland that lie in between the two highlands. These plains are drained by the might River Amazon (Rio Amazona) in the north and river Paraguay-Paraná in thesouth. The Amazon flows through the thick equatorial evergreen forest. The Paraguay-Paraná basin covers the fertile plains of Pampas.Venezuela´s rugged Llanos are one of the world´s richest tropical grasslands. Thislarge and very fertile plain is located in eastern and central Colombia, and central andsouthern Venezuela and is drained by the Orinoco River and its many tributaries. It'sapproximately 225,000 sq. miles in size. This mostly flat, grassy “cowboy country”,which is shared with Colombia, is teeming with wildlife, with more than 100 species of mammals and over 300 species of birds. A catfish called the lau-lau, which weighs up to330 pounds lives in this region and is considered a culinary delicacy.Pampas is a word of Quechua origin that means “a plain without trees”. Theunrelenting flat Pampas is Argentina’s agricultural heartland and home of the gaucho.Famed for its many cattle ranches, this large plain in the southern part of the continentextends for almost 1,000 miles. Located between the Andes and the Atlantic Ocean, and about 1,000 miles inlength, Patagonia stretches south from the Rio Negro River in southern Argentina toTierra del Fuego and the Strait of Magellan and is one of the less populated regions in theworld. It's mostly rugged, barren land not suitable for extensive farming, but compatiblewith sheep raising.Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Venezuela are the most prosperous countries. Sevenindependent countries are classified as lower middle-income countries and Guyana is the poorest South American Country. South America’s population includes NativeAmericans (Amerindians) and people of European and black African origin. Many people are of mixed descent.HistoryIn the 16
century, Spanish explorers in the Americas encountered two great civilizations —one in Mesoamerica (the territory controlled by the Aztecs and the Mayas at the timeof the conquest) and the other in South America (the territory in the central Andeanregion under Inca rule). The people of these regions accounted for many tribes andnations, with achievements that included art, cities and strong foundations of economic, political and social organization. The Aztec empire stretched between the Pacific and theAtlantic coasts of Mesoamerica while the Maya kingdom occupied the eastern part of MesoamericaThe Inca empire, with its capital at Cuzco, covered a large portion of SouthAmerica in the 15
and the first quarter of the 16
century. The empire stretched nearly2,500 miles down the west coast of South America, and covered coastal desert, highmountains, and low-lying jungle. It covered most of modern-day Peru, part of Ecuador,and Bolivia, northwest Argentina, and the greater part of Chile. To control such a hugearea, the Incas built roads, including both mountainous and coastal routes. This roadsystem was key to farming success as it allowed distribution of foodstuffs over longdistances. Agriculture was am important part of life and farmers used sophisticatedmethods of cultivation, and by the time of the Spanish conquest, the ancients Americans
were some of the greatest plant cultivators in the world. Maize from Mesoamerica and potatoes from the Andes were some of their contributions to the European diet. To getthe highest yield from their crops, the Incas used terracing and irrigation methods onhillsides in the highlands. Building terraces meant that they could use more land for cultivation, and also help to resist erosion of the land by wind and rain. Maize was thecentral food in the diet along with beans and squash. The inhabitants of the Andeanregion developed more than half the agricultural products that the world eats today.Among these are more than 20 varieties of corn; 240 varieties of potato; as well as one or more varieties of squash, beans, peppers, peanuts, and cassava (a starchy root). Quinoa(in the language of Incans, means “mother of cereals”)is a cereal grain is a cropdomesticated in the high plains area around lake Titicaca.By far the most important of these was the potato. The Incas planted the potato,which is able to withstand heavy frosts, as high as 15,000 feet. At these heights the Incascould use the freezing night temperatures and the heat of the day to alternately freeze anddry the potatoes until all the moisture had been removed. The Incas then reduced the potato to a light flour. They cultivated corn up to an altitude of 13,500 feet and consumedit fresh, dried, and popped. They also made it into an alcoholic beverage known assaraiaka or chicha.Put this in a sidebar or boxThe manioc
tuber, or cassava root, was another important staple of the natives.This carbohydrate-rich food that was easy to propagate but difficult to process, at leastfor the bitter variety, which is poisonous when raw. To detoxify manioc, the tubers had to be peeled and grated and the pulp put into long, supple cylinders—called
 —made of woven plant fibers. Each tube was then hung with a heavy weight at the bottom, whichcompressed the pulp and expressed the poisonous juice. The pulp could then be removed,washed and roasted, rendering it safe to eat. The product was a toasted, coarse meal or flour known as
 farinha de mandioc.
. Starch settling out from the extracted juice washeated on a flat surface, causing individual starch grains to pop open and clump together into small, round granules called tapioca. The extracted juice, boiled down to remove the poison, was used as the basis of the sauce known as
Manioc meal became manythings in the hands of the Indian women. Pulverized meal was mixed with ground fish to produce a concoction called
For the children, small, sun-dried cakescalled
were prepared. There was a porridge or paste known as
and thin,crisp snacks called
made of either tapioca flour or dough from a non-poisonous, or sweet variety of manioc known as
. These sweet manioc tubers, whichare somewhat fibrous but considerably easier to prepare, were also pared, boiled for several hours to soften them and eaten like potatoesBy the 16
century, rumors of gold and other riches attracted the Spanish to thearea. Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro explored south from Panama,reaching Inca territory. It was clear that they had reached a wealthy land with prospectsof great treasure, and after one more expedition in 1529, Pizarro travelled to Spain andreceived royal approval to conquer the region and be its viceroy.

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