A World of Words: Central America and the Caribbean - Introductory

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. archipelago
    a group of many islands in a large body of water
  5. Atlantic Ocean
    the 2nd largest ocean
  6. barrier reef
    a long coral reef near and parallel to the shore
  7. barrio
    a district in a Spanish-speaking country
  8. bay
    an indentation of a shoreline smaller than a gulf
  9. Belize
    a country on the northeastern coast of Central America on the Caribbean; formerly under British control
  10. biodiversity
    the variety of plant and animal life in a habitat
  11. blockade
    a war measure isolating an area of importance to the enemy
  12. business district
    the central area or commercial center of a town or city
  13. calendar
    a system of timekeeping that defines divisions of the year
  14. calypso
    rare north temperate bog orchid bearing a solitary white to pink flower marked with purple at the tip of an erect reddish stalk above 1 basal leaf
  15. canal
    long and narrow strip of water for boats or for irrigation
  16. Caribbean Sea
    an arm of the Atlantic Ocean between North and South America
  17. cash crop
    a cultivated plant that is grown to be sold for profit
  18. Christopher Columbus
    Italian navigator who discovered the New World in the service of Spain while looking for a route to China (1451-1506)
  19. citizen
    a native or naturalized member of a state
  20. climate
    the weather in some location averaged over a period of time
  21. coastal
    of or relating to the shoreline
  22. colonialism
    exploitation by a stronger country of a weaker one
  23. colony
    a geographical area controlled by a distant country
  24. commonwealth
    a political system in which power lies in a body of citizens
  25. communism
    a theory favoring collectivism in a classless society
  26. conquistador
    a 16th-century Spanish conqueror of Peru and Mexico
  27. coral reef
    a reef consisting of coral consolidated into limestone
  28. Costa Rica
    a republic in Central America
  29. cove
    a small inlet
  30. Cuba
    the largest island in the West Indies
  31. cyclone
    a violent rotating windstorm
  32. deforestation
    the state of being clear of trees
  33. democracy
    a political system in which power lies in a body of citizens
  34. district
    a region marked off for administrative or other purposes
  35. Dominican Republic
    a republic in the West Indies
  36. dry season
    one of the two seasons in tropical climates
  37. earthquake
    vibration from underground movement along a fault plane
  38. ecotourism
    tourism to exotic or threatened ecosystems to observe wildlife or to help preserve nature
  39. El Salvador
    a republic on the Pacific coast of Central America
  40. embargo
    a government order imposing a trade barrier
  41. endangered species
    a species whose numbers are so small that the species is at risk of extinction
  42. eruption
    the sudden occurrence of a violent discharge
  43. export
    sell or transfer abroad
  44. free trade
    the exchange of goods without governmental interference
  45. governor
    the head of a state authority
  46. Guatemala
    a republic in Central America
  47. Gulf of Mexico
    an arm of the Atlantic to the south of the United States and to the east of Mexico
  48. habanera
    a Cuban dance in duple time
  49. hacienda
    the main house on a ranch or large estate
  50. Haiti
    an island in the West Indies
  51. Honduras
    a republic in Central America
  52. hurricane
    a severe tropical cyclone usually with heavy rains and winds
  53. independence
    freedom from control or influence of another or others
  54. indigenous
    originating where it is found
  55. isthmus
    a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas
  56. Jamaica
    a country on the island of Jamaica
  57. jurisdiction
    the territory within which power can be exercised
  58. Latin America
    the parts of North America and South America to the south of the United States where Romance languages are spoken
  59. legislature
    an assembly that makes, amends, or repeals laws
  60. literacy
    the ability to read and write
  61. livestock
    any animals kept for use or profit
  62. mainland
    the main land mass of a country or continent
  63. Mesoamerica
    Mexico and Central America
  64. missile
    a rocket carrying a warhead of explosives
  65. monoculture
    the act or practice of growing only one type of crop
  66. mountainous
    containing many mountains
  67. nationalize
    put under state control or ownership
  68. natural resource
    material in the environment that can be used by people
  69. Nicaragua
    a republic in Central America
  70. Pacific Ocean
    the largest ocean in the world
  71. Panama
    a republic on the Isthmus of Panama
  72. Panama Canal
    a ship canal 40 miles long across the Isthmus of Panama built by the United States (1904-1914)
  73. plantain
    starchy banana-like fruit
  74. plantation
    an estate where cash crops are grown on a large scale
  75. plaza
    a public square with room for pedestrians
  76. poverty
    the state of having little or no money and possessions
  77. poverty line
    a level of income that provides for basic necessities
  78. Puerto Rico
    a self-governing commonwealth associated with the United States occupying the island of Puerto Rico
  79. quetzal
    the basic unit of money in Guatemala; equal to 100 centavos
  80. rainforest
    a densely wooded tropical area with heavy precipitation
  81. rain shadow
    an area that has little precipitation because some barrier causes the winds to lose their moisture before reaching it
  82. rainy season
    one of the two seasons in tropical climates
  83. raw material
    material suitable for manufacture or use or finishing
  84. rebellion
    organized opposition to authority
  85. reggae
    popular music originating in the West Indies
  86. republic
    a political system in which power lies in a body of citizens
  87. restriction
    an act of limiting
  88. revolution
    the overthrow of a government by those who are governed
  89. sanction
    impose a penalty on; inflict punishment on
  90. slavery
    the practice or system of owning people as property
  91. socialism
    an economic system based on state ownership of capital
  92. Spanish-American War
    a war between the United States and Spain in 1898
  93. subsistence farming
    farming that provides for the basic needs of the farmer without surpluses for marketing
  94. sugarcane
    thick plant stem that is a source of sweeteners and molasses
  95. tamale
    corn and cornmeal dough stuffed with a meat mixture then wrapped in corn husks and steamed
  96. tobacco
    plant leaves dried and prepared for smoking or ingestion
  97. tortilla
    thin unleavened pancake made from cornmeal or wheat flour
  98. tourism
    the business of providing services to travelers for pleasure
  99. tropical
    relating to part of the Earth's surface with hot climate
  100. tsunami
    a cataclysm resulting from a destructive sea wave
  101. valley
    a long depression in the surface of the land
  102. 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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