A World of Words: Central America and the Caribbean - Middle School and High School

If you want to know more about Central America and the Caribbean, review this list of essential vocabulary. You'll learn about the tropical climate, crops like sugarcane and plantains, and ecotourism. This list also covers important aspects of Central American and Caribbean history, including colonialism and slavery.
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. agriculture
    the practice of cultivating the land or raising stock
  2. Amerindian
    any member of the peoples living in North or South America before the Europeans arrived
  3. ancestry
    the lineage of an individual
  4. Anguilla
    a British colony in the West Indies
  5. Antigua
    the largest of the islands comprising Antigua and Barbuda
  6. archipelago
    a group of many islands in a large body of water
  7. Atlantic Ocean
    the 2nd largest ocean
  8. Bahamas
    island country in the Atlantic to the east of Florida and Cuba; a popular winter resort
  9. Barbados
    easternmost of the West Indies about 300 miles to the north of Venezuela
  10. barrier reef
    a long coral reef near and parallel to the shore
  11. barrio
    a district in a Spanish-speaking country
  12. bauxite
    a clay-like mineral
  13. bay
    an indentation of a shoreline smaller than a gulf
  14. Belize
    a country on the northeastern coast of Central America on the Caribbean; formerly under British control
  15. biodiversity
    the variety of plant and animal life in a habitat
  16. biome
    major ecological community with distinct climate and flora
  17. blockade
    a war measure isolating an area of importance to the enemy
  18. British Virgin Islands
    more than 40 northeastern Virgin Islands
  19. business district
    the central area or commercial center of a town or city
  20. calendar
    a system of timekeeping that defines divisions of the year
  21. canal
    long and narrow strip of water for boats or for irrigation
  22. cardamom
    aromatic seeds used as seasoning like cinnamon and cloves
  23. Carib
    a member of an American Indian peoples of northeastern South America and the Lesser Antilles
  24. Caribbean Sea
    an arm of the Atlantic Ocean between North and South America
  25. cash crop
    a cultivated plant that is grown to be sold for profit
  26. Cayman Islands
    a British colony in the Caribbean to the northwest of Jamaica; an international banking center
  27. Che Guevara
    an Argentine revolutionary leader who was Fidel Castro's chief lieutenant in the Cuban revolution; active in other Latin American countries; was captured and executed by the Bolivian army (1928-1967)
  28. Christopher Columbus
    Italian navigator who discovered the New World in the service of Spain while looking for a route to China (1451-1506)
  29. citizen
    a native or naturalized member of a state
  30. climate
    the weather in some location averaged over a period of time
  31. coastal
    of or relating to the shoreline
  32. colonial
    relating to a body of people who settle far from home
  33. colonialism
    exploitation by a stronger country of a weaker one
  34. colony
    a geographical area controlled by a distant country
  35. commonwealth
    a political system in which power lies in a body of citizens
  36. communism
    a form of socialism that abolishes private ownership
  37. conquistador
    a 16th-century Spanish conqueror of Peru and Mexico
  38. coral reef
    a reef consisting of coral consolidated into limestone
  39. Coriolis effect
    (physics) an effect whereby a body moving in a rotating frame of reference experiences the Coriolis force acting perpendicular to the direction of motion and to the axis of rotation; on Earth the Coriolis effect deflects moving bodies to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere
  40. Costa Rica
    a republic in Central America
  41. cove
    a small inlet
  42. Cuba
    the largest island in the West Indies
  43. Cuban Revolution
    the revolution led by Fidel Castro and a small band of guerrilla fighters against a corrupt dictatorship in Cuba; 1956-1959
  44. cyclone
    a violent rotating windstorm
  45. deforestation
    the state of being clear of trees
  46. democracy
    a political system in which power lies in a body of citizens
  47. democratic
    based upon the principles of social equality
  48. depression
    an air mass of lower pressure
  49. district
    a region marked off for administrative or other purposes
  50. Dominica
    a country on the island of Dominica
  51. Dominican Republic
    a republic in the West Indies
  52. dry season
    one of the two seasons in tropical climates
  53. earthquake
    vibration from underground movement along a fault plane
  54. ecotourism
    tourism to exotic or threatened ecosystems to observe wildlife or to help preserve nature
  55. El Salvador
    a republic on the Pacific coast of Central America
  56. embargo
    a government order imposing a trade barrier
  57. endangered species
    a species whose numbers are so small that the species is at risk of extinction
  58. eruption
    the sudden occurrence of a violent discharge
  59. export
    sell or transfer abroad
  60. Fidel Castro
    Cuban socialist leader who overthrew a dictator in 1959 and established a Marxist socialist state in Cuba (born in 1927)
  61. Francois Duvalier
    oppressive Haitian dictator (1907-1971)
  62. free trade
    the exchange of goods without governmental interference
  63. governor
    the head of a state authority
  64. Greater Antilles
    a group of islands in the western West Indies
  65. Grenada
    an island state in the West Indies in the southeastern Caribbean Sea; an independent state within the British Commonwealth
  66. Guadeloupe
    an island territory of France located in the eastern West Indies; tourism is the major industry
  67. Guatemala
    a republic in Central America
  68. Guatemala City
    the capital and largest city of Guatemala
  69. Gulf of Mexico
    an arm of the Atlantic to the south of the United States and to the east of Mexico
  70. habanera
    a Cuban dance in duple time
  71. hacienda
    a large estate in Spanish-speaking countries
  72. Haiti
    an island in the West Indies
  73. Havana
    the capital and largest city of Cuba
  74. Hispaniola
    an island in the West Indies
  75. Honduras
    a republic in Central America
  76. hurricane
    a severe tropical cyclone usually with heavy rains and winds
  77. independence
    freedom from control or influence of another or others
  78. indigenous
    originating where it is found
  79. isthmus
    a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas
  80. Isthmus of Panama
    the isthmus that connects Central America and South America
  81. Jamaica
    a country on the island of Jamaica
  82. Jean-Claude Duvalier
    son and successor of Francois Duvalier as president of Haiti
  83. jurisdiction
    the territory within which power can be exercised
  84. Latin America
    the parts of North America and South America to the south of the United States where Romance languages are spoken
  85. legislature
    an assembly that makes, amends, or repeals laws
  86. Lesser Antilles
    a group of islands in the southeastern West Indies
  87. literacy
    the ability to read and write
  88. livestock
    any animals kept for use or profit
  89. mainland
    the main land mass of a country or continent
  90. Managua
    the capital and largest city of Nicaragua
  91. Martinique
    an island in the eastern Caribbean in the Windward Islands
  92. Maya
    a member of an American Indian people of Yucatan and Belize and Guatemala who had a culture (which reached its peak between AD 300 and 900) characterized by outstanding architecture and pottery and astronomy
  93. Mesoamerica
    Mexico and Central America
  94. mestizo
    a Latin American with both European and indigenous heritage
  95. missile
    a rocket carrying a warhead of explosives
  96. monoculture
    the act or practice of growing only one type of crop
  97. Monroe Doctrine
    an American foreign policy opposing interference in the western hemisphere from outside powers
  98. montane
    of or inhabiting mountainous regions
  99. Montserrat
    a volcanic island in the Caribbean; in the West Indies
  100. mountainous
    containing many mountains
  101. nationalize
    put under state control or ownership
  102. natural resource
    material in the environment that can be used by people
  103. Netherlands Antilles
    a group of islands in the Lesser Antilles just to the north of Venezuela that are administered by The Netherlands
  104. Nicaragua
    a republic in Central America
  105. Pacific Ocean
    the largest ocean in the world
  106. Panama
    a republic on the Isthmus of Panama
  107. Panama Canal
    a ship canal 40 miles long across the Isthmus of Panama built by the United States (1904-1914)
  108. Panama City
    the capital and largest city of Panama
  109. plantain
    starchy banana-like fruit
  110. plantation
    an estate where cash crops are grown on a large scale
  111. plaza
    a public square with room for pedestrians
  112. Port-au-Prince
    the capital and largest city of Haiti
  113. poverty
    the state of having little or no money and possessions
  114. poverty line
    a level of income that provides for basic necessities
  115. Puerto Rico
    a self-governing commonwealth associated with the United States occupying the island of Puerto Rico
  116. quetzal
    the basic unit of money in Guatemala; equal to 100 centavos
  117. rainforest
    a densely wooded tropical area with heavy precipitation
  118. rain shadow
    an area that has little precipitation because some barrier causes the winds to lose their moisture before reaching it
  119. rainy season
    one of the two seasons in tropical climates
  120. Rastafarianism
    a religious cult based on a belief that Ras Tafari (Haile Selassie) is the Messiah and that Africa (especially Ethiopia) is the Promised Land
  121. raw material
    material suitable for manufacture or use or finishing
  122. rebellion
    organized opposition to authority
  123. reggae
    popular music originating in the West Indies
  124. republic
    a political system in which power lies in a body of citizens
  125. restriction
    an act of limiting
  126. revolution
    the overthrow of a government by those who are governed
  127. Roman Catholicism
    the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church based in Rome
  128. rumba
    a folk dance in duple time that originated in Cuba with Spanish and African elements; features complex footwork and violent movement
  129. Saint Kitts and Nevis
    a country on several of the Leeward Islands
  130. Saint Lucia
    a country on the island of Saint Lucia
  131. Saint Martin
    an island in the western Leeward Islands
  132. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
    an island country in the central Windward Islands
  133. sanction
    impose a penalty on; inflict punishment on
  134. San Jose
    the capital and largest city of Costa Rica
  135. San Salvador
    the capital and largest city of El Salvador
  136. slavery
    the practice or system of owning people as property
  137. slave trade
    traffic in people who are forced into unpaid labor
  138. socialism
    an economic system based on state ownership of capital
  139. Spanish-American War
    a war between the United States and Spain in 1898
  140. subsistence farming
    farming that provides for the basic needs of the farmer without surpluses for marketing
  141. sugarcane
    thick plant stem that is a source of sweeteners and molasses
  142. tamale
    corn and cornmeal dough stuffed with a meat mixture then wrapped in corn husks and steamed
  143. Tegucigalpa
    the capital and largest city of Honduras
  144. tobacco
    plant leaves dried and prepared for smoking or ingestion
  145. tortilla
    thin unleavened pancake made from cornmeal or wheat flour
  146. tourism
    the business of providing services to travelers for pleasure
  147. Trinidad and Tobago
    an island republic in the West Indies off the northeastern coast of Venezuela; achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1962
  148. tropical
    relating to part of the Earth's surface with hot climate
  149. tsunami
    a cataclysm resulting from a destructive sea wave
  150. United States Virgin Islands
    more than 130 southeastern Virgin Islands
  151. valley
    a long depression in the surface of the land
  152. volcano
    a fissure in the earth's crust through which gases erupt
Created on January 19, 2017 (updated April 7, 2017)

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