The tropics usually bring to mind sandy beaches, colorful birds and bright sunshine. Despite being a tourist destination, the tropics traditionally have not seen the economic growth that other regions of the world have seen. This could be in part due to the nature of a humid, subtropical climate zone.
Economic uses of humid subtropical areas include farming, mining and tourism.
A subtropical climate typically experiences hot, humid summers and cool, mild winters. Subtropical zones generally lay between 25 to 40 degrees latitude and are located closer to the poles than their adjacent tropical climates.
While the summers in humid subtropical regions can be humid and hot, winter months often bring temperatures down to around 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to the mild winters, many people find wintering in subtropical locations to be more pleasant than in areas where the weather can get below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
Year-round precipitation in this sort of region can typically be anywhere from 40 to 65 inches. These regions also tend to experience direct sunlight throughout the entire year. The most humid of subtropical climates are in coastal regions, such as the ones in Brazil and Argentina.
However, many inland southern parts of the United States and China can experience subtropical weather as well. Farming is more natural in these climates because of the extended growing season, which lasts for around eight months out of the year.
Farming, mining and outsourcing crops are some of the major sources of economic development in many subtropical areas. However, due to an increased demand for tourist attractions, some subtropical areas have moved away from farming and mining to focus more on becoming luxury tourist destinations.
Since many of the island nations in the subtropical region once belonged to larger Western nations, they may not have a well-developed farming infrastructure. Without access to income from farming, tourism has been the sole source of income for vast swaths of people in these regions.
Due to the humidity, much of the vegetation in the humid subtropics is comprised of small-needled trees, shrubs and bushes. Subtropical climates lend themselves well to evergreen trees that are able to endure the rainy season and general warmth. Ferns and palm trees are also common in humid subtropical climates. Delicate, broad-leafed plants that require extreme amounts of rain also thrive in subtropical climates.
Crops such as rice and other grains grow extremely well in this sort of environment for the same reasons as a variety of trees and plants. The lack of a true frost and high humidity allow crops that thrive in moist environments plenty of growth.
One of the biggest things drawing tourists to subtropical regions is wildlife. Thousands of species of birds, reptiles and fish can be found in the subtropical regions of the world. In the southern United States, deer, mountain lions and alligators can be found.
In areas of Florida, it is not uncommon to see the American alligator walking down sidewalks, lounging in swimming pools and spending time on golf courses. Alligators are cold blooded and require climates like the subtropics to control their body temperature.
Another impressive reptile that can be found in the subtropics is the python. Some species of python, such as the reticulated python, can grow to over 30 feet in length, weigh over 200 pounds and boast the girth of a telephone pole.
Due to their coloring and the camouflage that surrounding greenery provides them, pythons and alligators should be considered extremely dangerous, and only professionals should handle them. Because there are many important species of animals in subtropical regions, boat tours, aerial tours and reptile habitats are in-demand tourist attractions.