Pick a Region:. . Central America
Adult Literacy Rate: calculation of the percentage of people that are literate. Adult literacy rate, like infant mortality rate, is a measurement of a country's development. This measurement gives an indication of how well a country's wealth is used in taking care of its people.
Central American Common Market (CACM): a regional organization that seeks to create economic development among its members. Despite repeated efforts, the CACM has had little success in integration. In 1969, a war between Honduras and El Salvador in 1969 frustrated attempts at integration. More recently, Costa Ricas reluctance to become affiliated with the economies of its poorer neighbors has been an obstacle.
Clear-cutting: the removal of all trees in a given area of forest. This process can be contrasted to more selective logging in which only selected trees are cut down. Clear-cutting can lead to many problems, including soil erosion and loss of animal habitat.
Cold War: a struggle between the United States and its allies against the Soviet Union and its allies from 1945 to approximately 1990. Although it did not involve direct fighting between these two sides, Cold War-related violence did break out in other parts of the world. For instance, in Central America, groups receiving aid from the United States fought against those receiving aid from the Soviet Union.
Developing world: poor countries throughout the world. It includes the vast majority of the world's countries, with the exception of Canada, the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the countries of Western Europe. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama are all considered part of the developing world. The term developing world is one of many terms used to describe these countries. Other terms include the South, the industrializing countries, the Third World, the Global South, the underdeveloped nations, etc.
Economic integration: the coordinating of different countries economies and economic policies. For instance, a group of countries seeking to integrate can agree to drop barriers (such as taxes) to others countries goods, adopt a common policy toward foreign investment, adopt the same currency, etc. The degree to which economies integrate can vary greatly. The European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are examples of economic integration.
Enlightenment: a period of European history (1700s) which, among other things, emphasized the importance of human reason. Central American leaders who agreed with this belief sought to reduce the importance of the Catholic Church, since it placed value on revelation.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP): the total value of goods and services produced within a country. It is generally used to measure a country's wealth. GDP is also frequently divided by the number of people in a country to give an average measure of wealth per person (usually referred to as GDP/capita). One criticism of this measurement is that it does not reveal anything about the distribution of wealth. Thus, two countries with similar GDPs/capita may actually be very different if one has a relatively equal distribution of wealth (with very few poor people) and the other has a large majority of poor people and a handful of very rich individuals.
Indigenous: refers to people native to Central America. Indigenous peoples can be contrasted to the Spanish, who arrived relatively recently. Other terms used to describe the indigenous peoples are Indians, natives, and AmerIndians.
Infant Mortality Rate: measure of the number of childern born alive that die before the age of one. It is usually calculated per 1,000 live births in order to give a percetage. Infant mortality, like adult literacy rate, is a measurement of a country's development. This measurement gives an indication of how well a country's wealth is used in taking care of its people.
Monroe Doctrine: a policy created by U.S. President James Monroe in 1823. The Monroe Doctrine basically said that the United States opposed intervention in the Western Hemisphere by other countries. This warning was primarily targeted at Europe.
Sandinistas: a group of revolutionaries who overthrew Anastasio Somoza in July of 1979. The Sandinistas were inspired by and adopted the name of Augusto CÈsar Sandino, who rebelled against the U.S. occupation of Nicaragua earlier in the century. The United States government became uncomfortable with the Sandinistas relationship with the Soviet Union and Cuba, and sought to overthrow the Sandinistas.
Slash-and-burn agriculture: an agricultural practice of cleaning the land by cutting down small trees and burning the undergrowth. Crops are then planted in the slashed-and-burned section of land, which was at the time rich in minerals. This slash-and-burn practice is very shortsighted and damaging to forests for two main reasons. The first reason is that additional environmental damage may occur. Removal of the vegetation not only destroys the habitat for numerous species of plants and animals, but it also can lead to soil erosion, watershed degradation, and climate change in the area. The second reason is that once the vegetation is removed the rapid processes of plant growth, death, and decay that created the fertile environment are severely limited or entirely destroyed. Without these processes the soil quickly becomes barren and unproductive. When the soil will no longer support crops, the farmers are forced to move to new sections of the forest. If they use the slash-and-burn technique in a new location, more deforestation occurs. Slash-and-burn agriculture was not as destructive when only small numbers of people were engaged in the practice. However, in recent years the number of people using the practice has been increasing, and as a result it is causing damage to the rainforests and the environment.
United Provinces of Central America: a regional grouping of the future countries of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. It was established in 1823 after these countries obtained independence from Mexico. The United Provinces lasted until 1838 when personal rivalries and other complications led to its breakdown.
Viceroyalty: a political unit created by the Spanish to control the New World. The word viceroy means vice-king. Viceroys were the most powerful individuals in the New World and reported directly to the king.
Viceroyalty of New Spain: established in Mexico, it was the first viceroyalty (1535) created in the New World. It included the area from Mexico to Costa Rica. The Kingdom of Guatemala was part of this Viceroyalty.