Encyclopedia of World Cultures, south_america

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South Americans are culturally influenced by its indigenous peoples, the historic connection with Iberian Peninsula and Africa, and the impact of mass culture from the United States , alongside waves of immigrants from around the globe. South American nations have a rich variety of music. Some of the most famous genres include vallenato and cumbia from Colombia, samba and bossa nova from Brazil, and tango from Argentina and Uruguay. People on the Peruvian coast created the fine guitar and cajon duos or trios in the most mestizo mixed of South American rhythms such as the Marinera from Lima , the Tondero from Piura , the 19th century popular Creole Valse or Peruvian Valse, the soulful Arequipan Yaravi, and the early 20th century Paraguayan Guarania.

In the late 20th century, Spanish rock emerged by young hipsters influenced by British pop and American rock. Brazil has a Portuguese-language pop rock industry as well a great variety of other music genres. The Brazilian Machado de Assis , a 19th century realist writer, is widely regarded as the greatest Brazilian writer. Nowadays Paulo Coelho is one of the most read and translated authors.

His bestseller The Alchemist has been translated into 73 languages and is one of the most read books in the world.

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Bahia , Brazil, is especially well known for its West African—influenced cuisine. Argentines, Chileans, Uruguayans, Brazilians and Venezuelans regularly consume wine.

World Geography South America

Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and people in southern Chile and Brazil drink mate , a herb which is brewed. The Paraguayan version, terere , differs from other forms of mate in that it is served cold. Pisco is a liquor distilled from grapes in Peru and Chile. Jump to: navigation , search. Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "South America" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License ; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends.

See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice. Geopolitically , all of Panama —including the segment east of the Panama Canal in the isthmus—is often considered a part of North America alone and among the countries of Central America , not South America. Geologically, the continent became attached to North America only recently with the formation of the Isthmus of Panama approximately 3 million years ago, which resulted in the Great American Interchange. The Andes , likewise a comparatively young and seismically restless mountain range, run down the western edge of the continent; the land to the east of the Andes is largely tropical rainforest , the vast Amazon River basin.

The continent also contains drier regions such as East Patagonia and the extremely arid Atacama Desert. The South American continent also includes various islands , many of which belong to countries on the continent. Many of the islands of the Caribbean or West Indies —for example the Lesser Antilles—sit atop the Caribbean Plate, a tectonic plate with a diffuse topography. The Netherlands Antilles and the federal dependencies of Venezuela lie along the northerly South American.

Geopolitically, the island states and overseas territories of the Caribbean are generally grouped as a part or subregion of North America.

Latin American Studies *: Introduction

South America's major natural resources are gold , silver , copper , iron ore, tin , and oil. The many resources of South America have brought high income to its countries especially in times of war or of rapid economic growth by industrialized countries elsewhere. However, the concentration in producing one major export commodity often has hindered the development of diversified economies.

The inevitable fluctuation in the price of commodities in the international markets has led historically to major highs and lows in the economies of South American states, often also causing extreme political instability. This is leading to efforts to diversify their production to drive them away from remaining as economies dedicated to one major export. The Amazon rainforests possess high biodiversity , containing a major proportion of the Earth 's species. The largest country in South America by far, in both area and population, is Brazil , followed by Argentina.

Among people in some English-speaking countries, there is a tendency to confuse the linguistic and geographic divisions of the Americas: thus, Mexico , some Central American and Caribbean territories, despite their location in North America, are mistakenly included in South America. The term Latin America is used when referring to those territories whose official or national languages come from Latin namely Portuguese, Spanish, and French.

Similarly, areas where English is prominent are considered part of the Anglosphere. South America is thought to have been first inhabited by people crossing the Bering Land Bridge, which is now the Bering Strait.

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Some archaeological finds do not fit this theory, and have led to an alternative theory, Pre-Siberian American Aborigines. The first evidence for the existence of agricultural practices in South America date back to circa B. Pottery evidence further suggests that manioc, which remains a staple foodstuff today, was being cultivated as early as B. By B. Fishing became a widespread practice along the coast which helped to establish fish as a primary source of food. Irrigation systems were also developed at this time, which aided in the rise of an agrarian society.

Besides their use as sources of meat and wool, these animals were used for transportation of goods.

The rise of agriculture and the subsequent appearance of permanent human settlements allowed for the multiple and overlapping beginnings of civilizations in South America. Though a pre-ceramic culture, the monumental architecture of Norte Chico is contemporaneous with the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. From their capital city of Cusco , the Inca civilization dominated the Andes region from to Known as Tawantinsuyu , or "the land of the four regions," in Quechua, the Inca culture was highly distinct and developed.

Cities were built with precise, unmatched stonework, constructed over many levels of mountain terrain. Terrace farming was a useful form of agriculture. There is evidence of excellent metalwork in Inca civilization. Nevertheless, the Inca never discovered the wheel, and there is no evidence that they utilized written language, although they did use the quipu for record-keeping and communication.

The Muisca were the main indigenous civilization in what is now modern Colombia.

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They established a confederation of many clans, or cacicazgos, that had a free trade network among themselves. They were goldsmiths and farmers. In , Portugal and Spain , the two great maritime powers of that time, on the expectation of new lands being discovered in the west, signed the Treaty of Tordesillas , by which they agreed that all the land outside Europe should be an exclusive duopoly between the two countries. In terms of the treaty, all land to the west of the line which is now known to comprehend most of the South American soil , would belong to Spain , and all land to the east, to Portugal.

As accurate measurements of longitude were impossible at that time, the line was not strictly enforced, resulting in a Portuguese expansion of Brazil across the meridian. Beginning in the s, the people and natural resources of South America were repeatedly exploited by foreign conquistadors, first from Spain and later from Portugal.

These competing colonial nations claimed the land and resources as their own and divided it into colonies. European infectious diseases smallpox, influenza, measles , and typhus to which the native populations had no immune resistance, and systems of forced labor, such as the haciendas and mining industry's mita, decimated the native population under Spanish control. After this, African slaves, who had developed immunities to these diseases, were quickly brought in to replace them.

The Spaniards were committed to converting their native subjects to Christianity, and were quick to purge any native cultural practices that hindered this end. However, most initial attempts at this were only partially successful, as native groups simply blended Catholicism with traditional idolatry and their polytheistic beliefs. Eventually the natives and the Spaniards interbred, forming a mestizo class.

Essentially all of the mestizos of the Andean region were offspring of an Amerindian mothers and Spanish fathers. Mestizos and the Indian natives were often forced to pay extraordinary taxes to the Spanish government and were punished harshly for disobeying their laws. Many native artworks were considered pagan idols and destroyed by Spanish explorers. This included the many gold and silver sculptures and artifacts found in South America, which were melted down before their transport to Spain or Portugal.


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The Spanish colonies won their independence between and in the South American Wars of Independence. The two armies finally met in Guayaquil, Ecuador , where they cornered the royal army of Spain and forced its surrender. This was peacefully accepted by the crown in Portugal. Although Bolivar attempted to keep the Spanish-speaking parts of the continent politically unified, they rapidly became independent of one another as well, and several further wars were fought, such as the War of the Triple Alliance and the War of the Pacific.

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  8. A few countries did not gain independence until the twentieth century. Guyana , from the United Kingdom in and Suriname , from Dutch control in The continent, like many others, became a battlefield of the Cold War in the late twentieth century. Some governments of Argentina , Brazil , Chile , and Uruguay were overthrown or displaced by United States-aligned military dictatorships in the s and s. Economically, they began a transition to neoliberal economic policies.

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    They placed their own actions within the U.