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What are Tropical Countries?

Tropical countries are nations located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, where the climate is typically warm year-round, fostering diverse ecosystems. These regions are rich in natural beauty and biodiversity, offering unique cultural experiences. Wondering how living in such vibrant climates shapes daily life and culture? Join us as we explore the colorful tapestry of the tropics.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Tropical countries are those that lie within the region called the tropics. The tropics is the zone between the Tropic of Cancer, the parallel of latitude at 23° 26' 16" North, and the Tropic of Capricorn, the parallel of latitude at 23° 26' 16" South. Everywhere in the tropics is struck by the sun’s perpendicular rays at noon on a minimum of one day in each year. At the very center of the tropics lies the equator, a large, imaginary circle around the Earth at a spot equidistant from the North and South poles.

Many people associate tropical countries with a few islands and palm trees, but in fact, a large section of the world lies within the tropics. In the Western Hemisphere, parts of Mexico, all of Central America, all of the Caribbean islands from just south of Nassau in the Bahamas, and the top half of South America, including Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, as well as the northern portions of Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil are within this area.

In Africa, the only nations that are not in the tropics are Morocco and Tunisia in the north and Lesotho and Swaziland in the south. All the rest lie either entirely, or at least partly, within this region.

Nearly every country in Africa is tropical.
Nearly every country in Africa is tropical.

While no European countries are tropical countries, the Middle East has four: Yemen, which is entirely in the tropics, and parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, and United Arab Emirates. India, in southern Asia, lies mostly in the tropics, as do all countries of Southeast Asia. Australia, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and most of the other island nations of Oceania in the South Pacific are tropical countries, as well.

Every country in Central America lies in the tropics.
Every country in Central America lies in the tropics.

Not all countries in this region have the same climate, but they all have a limited range in their temperatures and less climate change over a year than is found in other zones. Their climate is distinguished chiefly by wet and dry seasons. The flora and fauna differ as well, and while palm trees do grow in many places, they also grow outside the tropics.

Frequently Asked Questions

What defines a tropical country?

The Burj al Arab, an iconic hotel in the United Arab Emirates, a tropical country.
The Burj al Arab, an iconic hotel in the United Arab Emirates, a tropical country.

A tropical country is defined by its geographical location, typically situated between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. This region experiences a tropical climate characterized by high temperatures throughout the year, with an average above 18°C (64°F). Rainfall patterns can vary, leading to diverse ecosystems such as rainforests, savannas, and deserts. The sun's rays hit these areas more directly, resulting in warmer temperatures and higher humidity levels.

How many countries are considered tropical?

A city in India, a tropical country.
A city in India, a tropical country.

There are approximately 80 countries that are considered tropical, spanning across the continents of Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. These countries lie within the equatorial region, which is rich in biodiversity and home to many unique species of flora and fauna. The exact number of tropical countries can vary slightly depending on the criteria used for classification.

What are the main characteristics of the climate in tropical countries?

Palm trees are commonly featured in the tropics.
Palm trees are commonly featured in the tropics.

The climate in tropical countries is distinguished by consistent high temperatures, with minimal variation between seasons. According to the Köppen climate classification, there are typically three main types of tropical climates: tropical rainforest (Af), tropical monsoon (Am), and tropical savanna (Aw or As). These climates are known for their significant rainfall, although the distribution can vary, with some areas experiencing distinct wet and dry seasons.

Why are tropical countries important to global biodiversity?

Brazil lies within the tropics.
Brazil lies within the tropics.

Tropical countries are crucial to global biodiversity because they contain around 80% of the world's species, despite covering only about 10% of the Earth's surface. The warm climate and abundant rainfall create ideal conditions for a wide variety of plants and animals. For instance, the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, a tropical country, is known as the "lungs of the Earth" and is home to over 390 billion individual trees and 16,000 species of trees.

What are some of the challenges faced by tropical countries?

Any country that lies between the tropic of cancer and the tropic of capricorn is considered tropical.
Any country that lies between the tropic of cancer and the tropic of capricorn is considered tropical.

Tropical countries often face challenges such as rapid deforestation, climate change impacts, and biodiversity loss. These regions are particularly vulnerable to the effects of global warming, which can lead to more intense and frequent natural disasters like hurricanes and droughts. Additionally, economic factors such as reliance on agriculture and tourism can be affected by these environmental changes, posing significant challenges to the livelihoods of people in tropical regions.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to CulturalWorld about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

Learn more...
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to CulturalWorld about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

anon1001443

What is the relationship between weather and elements and some diseases in tropical countries?

anon345507

I live in the tropics but I've been to Japan before. It's not easy to live in a cold climate and the wind blowing at you is also cold. I went to Tokyo and at 7 p.m. it was 10 degree celsius. I was shaking as I walked along the road. So I still think the tropics are the best.

serenesurface

Tropics are not as great as you all make it sound. Most tropical countries have heavy rainy seasons where it can rain for days, weeks and months on end. This results in a lot of flooding and a lot of people losing their lives and property.

Tropical weather is also great for spread of viral and bacterial infections. Why do you guys think we don't have malaria in Europe, Canada and US? Because mosquitoes spread the disease and they love warm and humid environments.

fBoyle

@MikeMason-- I don't think all of India is considered tropical.

I mean, think about Northern Indian states like Kashmir. It snows there in winter, how can it be tropical?

stoneMason

I would love to live in India because it's a tropical country. I know some parts of India get extremely hot in the summer, but for the most part, the weather is mild and warm throughout the year. I think it would be great to be able to wear short sleeves all year around. I wouldn't need winter clothes at all.

Another reason I would love to live in India is because of the variety of fruits and vegetables. I think tropical countries have the best conditions for growing vegetation and they have more options when it comes to foods.

John57

What I think I would really enjoy about a tropical climate is they have a small range between their high and low temperatures. I don't mind a change in temperature, but don't like the extreme hot and cold weather.

honeybees

@Mykol -- I used to feel the same way you do. That is until I moved to Arizona and found that I got kind of tired of the dry, hot weather. I realize this isn't the tropics, but it is warm and sunny most of the time.

I found that I really missed the change in seasons. I also like it when it gets cold enough that it kills off all the bugs for awhile. If you live in a climate that is warm and rainy like many of the tropics are, you will always have bugs around.

I guess I haven't found that perfect place to live yet, and probably never will. I have just learned to take the weather as it comes and enjoy wherever I am at.

Mykol

I have always said I was born to live in the tropics. I actually live in the US in a state that is in the northern part of the country. That is a long ways from the tropics. I don't like the long, cold winters we have, and love it when it is hot and sunny.

The few times I have visited a tropical island, I am so happy. The warmth of the sun and the gentle breezes are perfect and I have a hard time thinking about returning to frigid temperatures.

anon205643

I was really puzzled with the concept, whether the range of tropics lie outwards the equator or inwards to it.

This is really a simple and clear answer to my ambiguity. Thanks WiseGeek.

Leonidas226

The potato originated in tropical southern Peru and became a worldwide staple crop. Plantains, which are also a widespread staple crop, originated in the tropics of Oceania and were genetically modified into modern Bananas. Tropical fauna is quite diverse and nutritional. Is it possible that many other species of plants and animals originated in the tropical countries, owing to the fact that those areas have been relatively unaffected by harsh cold temperatures for a long period of time?

anon70771

Good one, brother. I got what i wanted.

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    • Nearly every country in Africa is tropical.
      By: Photocreo Bednarek
      Nearly every country in Africa is tropical.
    • Every country in Central America lies in the tropics.
      By: PHB.cz
      Every country in Central America lies in the tropics.
    • The Burj al Arab, an iconic hotel in the United Arab Emirates, a tropical country.
      The Burj al Arab, an iconic hotel in the United Arab Emirates, a tropical country.
    • A city in India, a tropical country.
      A city in India, a tropical country.
    • Palm trees are commonly featured in the tropics.
      By: luisapuccini
      Palm trees are commonly featured in the tropics.
    • Brazil lies within the tropics.
      By: Bastos
      Brazil lies within the tropics.
    • Any country that lies between the tropic of cancer and the tropic of capricorn is considered tropical.
      By: Peter Hermes Furian
      Any country that lies between the tropic of cancer and the tropic of capricorn is considered tropical.
    • Argentina is considered a tropical country.
      By: jkraft5
      Argentina is considered a tropical country.
    • The Middle East has four countries that are included in the tropics.
      By: Ruslan Olinchuk
      The Middle East has four countries that are included in the tropics.
    • The country of Guyana in the northern part of South America is considered a tropical country.
      By: juan35mm
      The country of Guyana in the northern part of South America is considered a tropical country.