"Google Earth in Latin America"
Making Geography Authentic! Helen Hazen, July 17th 2008 Google Earth in Latin America Goals Provide some images of features of Latin America that you may have read about or learned about in lectures. Get you to think about non-written sources of information as important to geography. Improve your familiarity with the layout of the continent and some of its physical and human landscapes. Begin with only the layers: “terrain” and “borders.” South America Looking at the whole of South America, what physical regions immediately become apparent from space? Amazonia (green), just about make out the Amazon Andes chain (brown) If we focus in on a specific country, say Peru, we can see these patterns at a larger scale. Amazon Development Now, if we focus at an even larger scale („Amazon Development‟) we can obviously see even more detail. What do you notice about the pattern of the rivers here? What does this tell us about the steepness of the slope in this region? (windy, not steep) What do you notice about the form of development that is taking place here? (ribbon along roadway) Haiti-DR deforestation Let‟s take a look at another instance of how we can see the human impact on the natural environment („Deforestation‟). Any ideas what we‟re seeing here? – national border, deforestation much greater on one side. What do you think the yellow and blue lines represent here? – national border and river. Why don‟t they match up? – lack of precision of mapping software, actual border follows the river at this point. In this case, we‟re able to see the influence of politics on the landscape. As we zoom out can anyone tell me where this might be? This is the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Haiti has suffered far greater deforestation than the DR (Turn off “borders” and “populated places” prior to zooming out.) Brasilia Let‟s take a look at another example of where policy has influenced what we see on the landscape. (Keep “borders” and “populated places” switched off.) (Go to „Planned settlement.‟) Where is this? Note the airplane shape. Why do you think it was built in this shape? Building of the city began in 1956. In 1960, it formally became Brazil's capital. Aim was to spread development to the Amazon basin. When seen from above, the city resembles 1 Making Geography Authentic! Helen Hazen, July 17th 2008 the shape of an airplane or a bird with open wings, although the architect‟s original urban concept pointed to the shape of a cross, to symbolize possession. Today it‟s a World Heritage Site, although it has been widely criticized for not being pedestrian-friendly, and has never really attracted people to living there, leaving it somewhat empty and windswept. Flatten the image so that relief is not evident. Shanty Towns, Rio It‟s not just formal policies that we can see reflected on the landscape, but also economic and social structures of a place. („Favela, Rio‟) In Rio de Janeiro we can see how housing is clustered into rich and poor neighborhoods, sometimes right next door to each other. We can also see the effect of relief on how cities grow up. In this context we can see that although the shanty town and the affluent settlement appear to be almost next door to each other, in reality they are on opposite sides of a hill. Sachsaywaman Finally, let‟s look at a couple of historical sites to think about how we can consider culture from the interpretation of landscape. Why do you think the Inca built a wall in this strange zig-zag shape? We can only see about 20% of the original structure; the Spanish tore much of the site down and used the stone for building, so we don‟t really know exactly what it would have originally looked like. The site was supposed to have been built in the shape of a Puma‟s head. The Inca built Cuzco in the shape of the sacred animal of the Puma. The zig-zags you can see are the puma‟s teeth. We can‟t make out the shape of the puma any more because Cuzco has expanded so much in the meantime. One of the last features that I want to show you is the photos feature. Switch on the Geographic Web layer and show photos feature. Flatten the relief. Machu Picchu Slowly change the angle so that elevation becomes clearer and clearer. Why do you think that the Inca might have chosen to build a city here? What would have been some of the challenges of this site? Inca Empire was largely in the highlands of the Andes and the Inca were proficient at buildings roads & cities at altitude. These sites would have been challenging to provision, but often had highly defensible positions. Ceremonial sites such as MP, which was used as a major astronomical and religious site, may also have been built at high altitude for their religious significance. Zooming out a little, ask students what the starkest feature on the landscape is (the zig- zag brown line going up the hillside). Ask the students what they think that is and who built it. (Road, built for tourist access to the site.) Was it a good idea to build a road to a site like this? Why or why not? (Many people now come to MP with significant damaging effects; MP is a World Heritage Site so shouldn‟t people have access to sites 2 Making Geography Authentic! Helen Hazen, July 17th 2008 such as this?) A hotel can also be seen just to the West of MP. What are the pros and cons of having a hotel here? Feature Location Coordinates Development along roads in the Nr Puerto Maldonado, 12o42‟22 S, 69o27‟49 W Amazon Peru Effect of national border on Haiti-Dominican 19o02‟09 N, 71o45‟33 W environment Republic border Planned city (shape of airplane) Brasilia, Brazil 15o46‟48 S, 47o54‟05 W Shanty town next to affluent Rio de Janeiro 22o 56‟50 S, 43o 11‟39 W housing 22o 56‟29 S, 43o11‟37 W Sachsaywaman Cuzco, Peru 13o 30‟32 S, 71o 58‟55 W Machu Picchu Peru 13o 09‟48 S, 73o 32‟46 W These sites can all be found on the KMZ file that I‟ve included. 3