North American Treaty was signed in 1949. Twelve nations formed the original North American Treaty Organization: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United States. Greece and Turkey became members in 1951, and West Germany joined in 1954. Spain became the last member in 1982. The main purpose of NATO is protection; an attack against one member is an attack against all members. Idea: Children could locate these countries on a world map and decide whether all countries benefit equally from this treaty.
Spanish-American War began in 1898. At that time Spain ruled Cuba, and many Americans had heard that the conditions on the island were intolerable. The United States sent the battleship Maine to protect Americans living there. In February the ship exploded, and 260 people on board died. “Remember the Maine” became a popular expression. War was declared, and battles occurred not only in and around Cuba but around the Philippines as well. Teddy Roosevelt became famous as one of the leaders of the Rough Riders. The war ended on August 12, 1898. Children could learn more at: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/progress/jb_progress_subj.html
Argentina celebrates Revolution Day. It became free of Spanish rule in 1810. Spaniards explored the area around 1515. Argentina is about 30 percent the size of the United States. Known for its vast Pampas, the country is famous for its large cattle herds. About 42.6 million people live in Argentina, and Buenos Aires is the capital.
Florida was ceded to the United States by Spain in 1821. The Adams-Onis Treaty (also called the Transcontinental Treaty) had been signed in 1819 but took effect July 17, 1821. The United States agreed to give Spain $5 million and to renounce any claims on Texas in exchange for West Florida and East Florida.
Peru celebrates Independence Day. It gained its freedom from Spain in 1821. Lima is the capital of this South American country. Its area is a bit smaller than the area of Alaska, and natural resources include silver, gold, copper, and petroleum. Almost 30 million people live and work there. Idea: The Incas once controlled portions of what is now Peru. Children could find out more about the Incas and the Spanish conquistadors.
Hurricane sank ten Spanish treasure galleons off the coast of Florida in 1715. The ships, laden with silver, were returning to Spain. About 700 sailors died, but a few survived by finding lifeboats. Experts state that every once in a while silver coins from the fleet still find their way to shore.
Bolivia celebrates Independence Day. A landlocked country in South America, Bolivia gained its freedom from Spain in 1825. La Paz is the capital, and at one time the country was under Inca control. Although the country is presently bigger than the state of Texas, it was once much larger. Parts of the country were sold, and parts were given away as spoils of war. Its natural resources include silver, tin, oil, and natural gas.
Captain Juan Sebastian de Elcano brought the only surviving ship, the Vittoria, from Magellan’s expedition back to Spain in 1522. The voyage started September 20, 1519, with five ships and about 265 men. Only eighteen of the men survived and returned on the Vittoria.
The Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua declared their independence from Spain in 1821.
Costa Rica, about the size of West Virginia, has a population of about 4.7 million people. The country, which exports bananas, pineapples, and coffee, has four active volcanoes. San José is the capital.
El Salvador, slightly smaller than the state of Massachusetts, has a population of 6.1 million people. It exports coffee, sugar, and textiles. It is the only Central American country that does not have a coastline on the Caribbean Sea. San Salvador is the capital.
Guatemala, slightly smaller than the state of Tennessee, has a population of 14.3 million people. It exports sugar, coffee, and petroleum. Mountains cover most of the country, and Guatemala City is the capital.
Honduras, slightly larger than the state of Tennessee, is home to 8.5 million people. The country often experiences hurricanes along the Caribbean coast. It exports textiles, shrimp, and coffee. Tegucigalpa is the capital.
Nicaragua, a bit smaller than the state of New York, has a population of 5.8 million people. The largest country in Central America, Nicaragua exports beef, coffee, gold, and sugar. Managua is the capital.
Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492. He had left Spain on August 3, 1492, with three ships and 90 men. His journey, filled with dangers, marked the beginning of the age of exploration. Children can read a well-written summary of his explorations at: Columbus.