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COSTA RICA EMERGES AS A CLEAR LEADER in ecological and environmental issues on Middle America this biennium. The number and quality of the nation's contributions mirror Costa Rica's commitment to its own environment. The richness of materials on Costa Rica range from textbooks (item bi 93021582) and works for the general public (item bi 93021579) to analyses of protected natural areas (items bi 93021575 and bi 93021613) and computer models that relate several aspects of the social and natural environment (item bi 93021587).
Other environmental contributions worthy of special mention are a bibliography on the tropical forest with over 3,100 entries (item bi 93021563), a water resource inventory (item bi 93021578) and bibliography (item bi 93021584), a database on the major ecosystems of the Caribbean (item bi 93021611), and another in a series of indispensable country environmental profiles (items bi 93021564).
The offerings on Mexico for HLAS 55 follow a pattern similar to that of recent volumes with emphasis on high profile issues such as environmental pollution and urban sprawl in Mexico City, rationalizing the use of natural resources such as water and soil, and developments along the US-Mexico political boundary. As usual, historical geography is well represented: the literatature is augmented this year with some excellent offerings from The Americas before and after 1492: current geographical research, a special Columbian Quincentennial issue of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers (Sept. 1992, see items bi 93001699, bi 93001695, and bi 93001694).
The most important contribution on the environmental problems is Ezcurra's small historical monograph on the Valley of Mexico (item bi 94001528). For the US-Mexico frontier area, Arreola and Curtis' work on Mexican border cities sets a standard for future comparative studies (item bi 95013202). The Colegio de la Frontera Norte's collection of papers on environmental problems along the Mexico-California border (item bi 94001501) also merits readers' attention.
West's short monograph on Sonora (item bi 95013801) dominates the work on historical geography. Also of interest are Arij Ouweneel's methodological work on reconstructing colonial demographic patterns based on tribute records (item bi 91026625) and Whitmore's work on disease and death in early colonial Mexico (item bi 95013802) which applies computer simulations to the problem of reconstructing past populations. Horst's study on San Juan Ostuncalco, Guatemala (item bi 92020475) adds still another approach, analysis of parish records, to the corpus of techniques for population estimation.
The literature on Guatemala is totally dominated by historical geography, a reflection, no doubt, of the weak development of the discipline of geography within Guatemala which tends to limit local studies, combined with social and political problems which discourage fieldwork by non-Guatemalans.