Caribbean Studies. Essay on Caribbean Region
Juan Pablo Caribbean Studies 9/2/12
Essay on Caribbean Region
Geography (from Greek γεωγραφία - geographia) is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes (276-194 BC). A great amount of knowledge has been accumulating towards the science of geography. Such knowledge embraces five major themes: location, place, human-environment interactions, movement, and region. The idea of location has always been central to the subject of geography. In the ancient world, for example, it was the task of the geographers to fix the boundaries of land divisions and to draw maps of emerging empires. In the late Middle Ages and beyond, exploration -- that is, the discovery of locations and the recording of their characteristics -- was regarded as a major function of the geographer. This type of geography, although concerned with location, was very descriptive: simply the recording of the locations of places in terms of longitude and latitude and some of the characteristics of the place in terms of, for example, population size. Some of the Victorian geography textbooks, in fact, were, little more than detailed gazetteers listing the major towns of Britain, the rivers on which they were situated, their populations and major manufactures, and the railroads running through them. Just as history was a list of dates, so geography was a list of places or locations.
As society's problem of adapting to the physical and social environment became more complex, however, it was realized that each of the subjects of the standard educational curriculum could be addressed to a set of real world problems; and if it decided to respond to the challenge, a subject could develop analytically so that it would be capable of solving problems. Geography has recently decided to respond with rigor to this challenge. In brief, geography is interested at the locations of different items at different places on the earth's surface and in explaining why things are located where they are. More specifically, the human geographer is interested in the locations of items which have been placed by human agency whether it is humanity itself or the acts of humanity such as railroads, towns, stores, offices, factories, fields, and fences.
From the vast information presented in the first two paragraphs we can move to other concepts in geography. Let us consider geographical locations. The terms location and place in geography are used to identify a point or an area on the Earth's surface or elsewhere. The term 'location' generally implies a higher degree of certainty than "place" which often has an ambiguous boundary relying more on human/social attributes of place identity and sense of place than on geometry. Location can be described in two different ways: 1. Absolute location, a location as described by its latitude and longitude on the Earth. For example, the coordinates of Albany, New York is 42°39′9.34″N 73°45′26.33″W and 2. Relative location, a location as described by where it is compared to something else. For example, Albany, New York is roughly 150 miles east of New York City. Place is the description of what it is like to live in a certain place. Examples are government types, climate, diet, etc.
Another concept in geography which can be considered is the word territory. Territory refers to the land and waters that are under the jurisdiction of a government. A country is considered a territory and is commonly associated with the notions of state or nation. This definition includes all sovereign states, but doesn't exclude autonomous dependencies of sovereign states and unrecognized de facto states. Sub-divisions of a territory or a country may well be called sub-territories. Some countries consider certain internal divisions to be territories (such as Canada's three territories of Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon Territory or Australia's Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory). Likewise, while Washington D.C. is not a state and effectively a territory, it is not an external territory and thus not counted as such. Another definition of territory usually is found in conjunction with the word "disputed" or "occupied." Disputed territories and occupied territories refer to places where the jurisdiction of the place (which country owns the land) is not clear. A territory under sovereignty of another country without being considered (completely) part of that country is called a dependency and a neutral territory is a territory that is not an integral part of any country, for example Antarctica.
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The criteria for a place being considered a territory are fairly simple, especially when compared to those of an independent country. A territory is simply an external piece of land claimed to be a subordinate location (in regards to the main country) that is not claimed by another country. If there is another claim, then the territory can be considered a disputed territory. A territory will typically rely on its "mother country" for defense, police protection, courts, social services, economic controls and support, migration and import/export controls, and other features of an independent country. With fourteen territories, the United States has more territories than any other country. The territories of the U.S. include: American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Wake Island. The United Kingdom has twelve territories under its auspices.
Geography also considers the concept of Movement as an integral Knowledge. Movement is the travel of people, goods and ideas from one location to another or political events. Examples of movement include America's westward expansion, the Information Revolution, and immigration. New devices such as the airplane and the Internet allow physical and ideological goods to be transferred long distances in short time intervals. The travel of oneself from place to place, and the actions they do there, is also considered movement. Economy relates to movement in geography and so it will be considered in this paper.
The branch of economy in geography is debated for acceptance and it is called economic geography. Economic geography is the study of the location, distribution and spatial organization of economic activities across the world. The subject matter investigated is strongly influenced by the researcher's methodological approach. Neoclassical location theorists, following in the tradition of Alfred Weber, tend to focus on industrial location and use quantitative methods. Since the 1970s, two broad reactions against neoclassical approaches have significantly changed the discipline: Marxist political economy, growing out of the work of David Harvey; and the new economic geography which takes into account social, cultural, and institutional factors in the spatial economy.
Economic geography is usually regarded as a subfield of the discipline of geography, although recently economists such as Paul Krugman and Jeffrey Sachs have pursued interests that can be considered part of economic geography. Krugman has gone so far as to call his application of spatial thinking to international trade theory the "new economic geography", which directly competes with an approach within the discipline of geography that is also called "new economic geography". The name geographical economics has been suggested as an alternative.
Given the variety of approaches, economic geography has taken to many different subject matters, including: the location of industries, economies of agglomeration (also known as "linkages"), transportation, international trade and development, real estate, gentrification, ethnic economies, gendered economies, core-periphery theory, the economics of urban form, the relationship between the environment and the economy (tying into a long history of geographers studying culture-environment interaction), and globalization. This list is by no means exhaustive.
As the economic geography is a very broad discipline with economic geographers using many different methodologies in the study of economic phenomena in the world some distinct approaches to study have evolved over time: 1. Theoretical economic Geography focuses on building theories about spatial arrangement and distribution of economic activities. 2. Regional economic geography examines the economic conditions of particular regions or countries of the world. It deals with economic regionalization and local economic development as well. 3. Historical economic geography examines history and the development of spatial economic structure. Using historical data it examines how the centers of population and economic activity shift, what patterns of regional specialization and localization evolved over time and what factors explain these changes. 4. Critical economic geography is approach from the point of view of contemporary critical geography and its philosophy. 5. Behavioral economic geography which examines the cognitive processes underlying spatial reasoning, locational decision making, and behavior of firms and individuals. Economists and economic geographers differ in their methods in approaching similar economic problems in several ways. To generalize, an economic geographer will take a more holistic approach in the analysis of economic phenomena, which is to conceptualize a problem in terms of space, place and scale as well as the overt economic problem that is being examined.
While starting a business it is essential and important to make plans considering the location for the business. This type of planning is called physical planning. The meaning for this plan is the following: the allocation of land to specific uses on a comprehensive territorial basis related to geographical criteria, with consideration given to social criteria. Physical planning comes from economic planning.
Economic planning refers to any directing or planning of economic activity outside the mechanisms of the market, in an attempt to achieve specific economic or social outcomes. Planning is an economic mechanism for resource allocation and decision-making in contrast with the market mechanism. Most economies are mixed economies, incorporating elements of market mechanisms and planning for distributing inputs and outputs. The level of centralization of decision-making ultimately depends on the type of planning mechanism employed; as such planning may be based on either centralized or decentralized decision-making.
Economic planning can apply to production, investment, distribution or all three of these functions. Planning may take the form of directive planning or indicative planning. An economy primarily based on central planning is a planned economy; in a planned economy the allocation of resources is determined by a comprehensive plan of production which specifies output requirements. Social criteria relates to economies.
Social criteria refer to the criteria of certain things placed in society to boost up development and the economy of a country. The criterion for certain businesses, activities, or any other object considered may satisfy the desire of people. Social criteria may be put in different context, for example, social criteria may be concerned with the ways in which urban populations and particularly urban communities use urban green spaces as part of their everyday lifestyles, where social aspects are derived from observing how users actually interact with green spaces. Thus they concern the evaluation of interaction between user and space. Accordingly, if we take time to seek the opinions of users and examine their preferences we identify what factors are positive and contribute to use, and what factors are negative and discourage use. We can then to use the results to develop social criteria.
In developing the social criteria this relationship between user and site forms the basis of examination. The underlying principle is that all potential users should be free to access sites when they wish to, and to derive pleasure from doing so in ways in which use reinforces their personal lifestyles. Much of this pleasure is associated with the natural character, or more accurately the way in which these spaces are perceived as natural, and where this natural character is the opposite of the built urban form. This is an important distinction between the use of the term natural in a social context and its use elsewhere, especially for nature conservation.
Geography also considers region. Regions consist of sub regions that contain clusters of areas that are distinctive by their uniformity of description based on a range of statistical data, for example demographic, and locales. In astrophysics some regions have science-specific terms such as galactic clusters. The United States is a political region because it shares the same government system. We can share information of the Caribbean region as well.
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles (3,200 km) long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north. From the peninsula of Florida on the mainland of the United States, the islands stretch 1,200 miles (1,900 km) southeastward, then 500 miles (800 km) south, then west along the north coast of Venezuela and Guyana on the South American mainland.
Situated largely on the Caribbean Plate, the region comprises more than 7,000 islands, islets, reefs, and cays. These islands, called the West Indies, generally form island arcs that delineate the eastern and northern edges of the Caribbean Sea. The region consists of the Antilles, divided into the larger Greater Antilles which bound the sea on the north, the Lesser Antilles on the south and east (including the Leeward Antilles), the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands (the Lucayan Archipelago). Geopolitically, the West Indies are usually regarded as a sub-region of North America and are organized into 30 territories including sovereign states, overseas departments, and dependencies.
The word "Caribbean" has multiple uses. Its principal ones are geographical and political. The Caribbean can also be expanded to include territories with strong cultural and historical connections to slavery, European colonization and the plantation system.
Politically, "Caribbean" may be centered on socio-economic groupings found in the region. For example the block known as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) contains both the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and the Republic of Suriname found in South America, along with Belize in Central America as full members. Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands which are found in the Atlantic Ocean are associate members of the Caribbean Community, and the same goes for the Commonwealth of the Bahamas which is a full member of the Caribbean Community.
Caribbean societies are very different from other Western societies in terms of size, culture, and degree of mobility of their citizens. The current economic and political problems which the states face individually are common to all Caribbean states. Regional development has contributed to attempts to subdue current problems and avoid projected problems. From a political economic perspective, regionalism serves to make Caribbean states active participants in current international affairs through collective coalitions. In 1973, the first political regionalism in the Caribbean Basin was created by advances of the English-speaking Caribbean nations through the institution known as the Caribbean Common Market and Community (CARICOM).
Certain scholars have argued both for and against generalizing the political structures of the Caribbean. On the one hand the Caribbean states are politically diverse, ranging from communist systems such as Cuba toward more capitalist Westminster-style parliamentary systems as in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Other scholars argue that these differences are superficial, and that they tend to undermine commonalities in the various Caribbean states. Contemporary Caribbean systems seem to reflect a "blending of traditional and modern patterns, yielding hybrid systems that exhibit significant structural variations and divergent constitutional traditions yet ultimately appear to function in similar ways." The political systems of the Caribbean states share similar practices.
The geography and climate in the Caribbean region varies: Some islands in the region have relatively flat terrain of non-volcanic origin. The climate of the region is tropical but rainfall varies with elevation, size and water currents (cool upwelling keep the ABC islands arid). Warm, moist trade winds blow consistently from the east creating rainforest/semi desert divisions on mountainous islands. Occasional northwester lies affect the northern islands in the winter. The region enjoys year-round sunshine, divided into 'dry' and 'wet' seasons, with the last six months of the year being wetter than the first half.
The waters of the Caribbean Sea host large, migratory schools of fish, turtles, and coral reef formations. The Puerto Rico trench, located on the fringe of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea just to the north of the island of Puerto Rico, is the deepest point in all of the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricanes, which at times batter the region, usually strike northwards of Grenada, and to the west of Barbados. The principal hurricane belt arcs to northwest of the island of Barbados in the Eastern Caribbean. The region sits in the line of several major shipping routes with the Panama Canal connecting the western Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean.
Finally to conclude, I want to say that the Caribbean countries are territories. Some of them are owned by other countries such as England, United Kingdom, and United States. All of the countries are engaged in business transaction and political affairs. These countries in the Caribbean region relate to each other and share some of their history.