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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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.