World-renowned as the ancient capital of the Incan Empire and the gateway to Macchu Picchu, Cusco is today home to a flourishing tourism industry. Spectacular examples of both pre-Hispanic and colonial architecture sit alongside hastily constructed infrastructure built to accommodate a steadily increasing flow of international visitors.
With a population of 9 million, Lima is the fourth-largest city in the Americas, and one of the most important financial centers in Latin America. As a tourist destination, it is famous for its diverse gastronomy, historic cultural sites, and nightlife.
Cebadas is a small rural center comprised of thirty small communities in the Ecuadorean Andes Mountain Range, approximately 50 kilometers south of the city of Riobamba. Its largely indigenous population identifies strongly with the native Quechua culture; residents are typically fluent in both Quechua and Spanish. The economy is based on agriculture, with many families relying on livestock and crops such as corn, quinoa, beans, potatoes, and other vegetables. Ritual practices, including medicine, are closely tied to the natural environment.
Tena serves as the primary economic and government center for a vast network of outlying rural indigenous communities, many of which lie deep in the jungle. In recent years, ecotourism has emerged as a more sustainable source of economic growth in the area. Tena’s location makes it a popular starting point for rafting, kayaking and other excursions in the Amazon rainforests. Students who attend the MEDLIFE Mobile Clinics in Tena will have the opportunity to experience the unique biodiversity and native culture of the region.
Esmeraldas is a port city located on the northwest coast of Ecuador. The city is home to the majority of the Afro-Ecuadorian population; the province is the most ethnically-diverse in the nation. The main exports are wood and agricultural resources, yet the establishment of Esmeraldas as Ecuador’s largest oil refinery has also turned it into an important commercial center. Esmeraldas was considerably affected by the El NiÃ±o events of the late 1990s when mudslides caused explosions, fatalities, and environmental damage due to ruptured pipelines. Due to these events, the tourism industry is still recovering, yet Esmeraldas remains of interest to tourists for its beautiful beaches, tropical forests, and handicrafts.
Located on the Eastern coast of Africa, Tanzania is known for being home to iconic landmarks such as Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti National Park. Tanzania’s economy relies primarily on agriculture, and 76% of the population lives in rural areas. Because of its reliance on farming and lack of infrastructure, Tanzania is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters such as drought, floods, earthquakes, and epidemics.
Nicaragua is the second most impoverished nation in the Americas, with 42.5% living below the national poverty line. Ciudad de Sandino, a particularly impoverished area of Managua, came into being as a refuge for flood victims in the 1970’s and has continued to take in the refugees of the subsequent civil war, earthquakes and hurricanes that have besieged Nicaragua. In the following decades, the serious problems in these areas have never been adequately addressed, and many residents are still completely lacking infrastructure, stable employment, and access to basic services.