Native Americans formed the Inca, Aztec, and Mayan empires in Latin America. Explorers from Spain and Portugal conquered these complex societies and much of Latin America. As a result, many Latin Americans are mestizos, people of mixed Native American and European descent. Others are descendants of Africans who were brought to work as slaves on Latin Ameri- can plantations. In the 1700s and 1800s, Latin Americans fought for indepen- dence, which created republics but not democracy. In the 1900s, Latin Americans struggled for reform, eventually bringing about democratic governments and economic gains in a number of countries. Mountains dominate much of Latin America, but the region also includes the pampas, grassy plains in southeastern South America. The Amazon rain forest is one of the largest ecosystems in the world. Islands, some of which are the tops of underwater mountains, are found in the Caribbean. Atmospheric and ocean currents affect Latin America’s climate. These currents can create tropical storms, with winds of at least 39 miles per hour. These can become hurricanes, with winds of at least 74 miles per hour, which devastate islands and coastal regions. As in other parts of the world, three major economic systems are found in Latin America. A market economy allows economic decisions to be deter- mined by supply and demand, while the government makes those decisions in a command economy. Under a tradi- tional economy, families produce goods and services for their own use.

#1 What are the three different economic systems in Latin America?
#2 Map Skills: What bodies of water border Central America?