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Central America is the southernmost an ar of phibìc America. It lies between Mexico and South America, and it contains the countries Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Belize.

Central America is not a continent. Continent are large landmasses installed in major tectonic plates, which are sections of earth rigid outer layer that overlie a partly molten layer and move family member to one another. Central America is installed in a tectonic plate, but both the landmass and also the key are much smaller than those of the continent it bridges, north America and also South America, so that is not taken into consideration to be a continent.

Central America experiences frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to the fact that it lies where number of tectonic bowl meet and also exert pressure on one another. This plates have the right to suddenly rupture and also slip, releasing power as earthquakes. Volcanoes are likewise common at these plate boundaries.

Several conquistadores travel to central America in the early on 16th century, yet they make no settlements. One together conquistador was Rodrigo de Bastidas, who developed Spain’s case to central America in 1501. The first stable Spanish settlement in main America was established in 1510, once Vasco Núñez de Balboa and his crew settled near what is now the Colombia-Panama border.

Spanish is the many widely spoken language in central America due to the fact that of the Spanish emigration of the an ar beginning in the so late 15th century. The only central American country whose official language isn’t Spanish is Belize—mainly due to the fact that British settlers long outnumbered Spanish ones there, and, in the 19th century, brothers formally replaced Spain together the territory’s administer authority.

Central America, southernmost region of phibìc America, lying in between Mexico and South America and comprising Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and also Belize. (Geologists and physical geographers sometimes expand the north boundary come the Isthmus that Tehuantepec in Mexico.)


The holy place of Inscriptions, Palenque, Mexico. The mountain element was represented by the Mayan culture in pyramidal rock temples.

Central America provides up many of the tapering isthmus the separates the Pacific Ocean, come the west, indigenous the Caribbean Sea. It extends in one arc around 1,140 miles (1,835 km) lengthy from the northwest come the southeast. At its narrowest allude the isthmus is only about 30 mile (50 km) wide, and there is no location in central America that is more distant 보다 125 miles (200 km) from the sea.

Humid swamps and lowlands expand along both the west and also east coasts, yet four-fifths of main America is either hilly or mountainous. The western tape of Pacific coastal lowland is narrow and also overshadowed by mountain ranges, and, except in Nicaragua and Honduras, the eastern levels along the Caribbean are also narrow. Key steadily rises west of the Caribbean lowlands, until, toward the Pacific Coast, plateau highlands finish in hill ridges and some 40 volcanic cones, several of which acquire elevations of an ext than 12,000 feet (3,700 metres). Part of central America’s volcanoes erupt violently from time come time, and earthquakes commonly occur in the region. The weathering volcanic lavas develop a fertile soil, however, and also the highlands the the volcanic zones have actually consequently end up being highly productive farming zones and areas of thick population.

The climates of central America are basically tropical, tempered by proximity to the sea, through elevation, by latitude, and also by local topography; in consequence, they might vary significantly over brief distances. Key mitigates the climatic impacts of central America’s dry latitude for this reason that mean temperatures in the highlands room much reduced than those in the seaside lowlands. Rainfall wake up primarily during the summer and is heaviest between May and also November. January v March space the driest months. In general, the Caribbean side receives around twice as lot rain as the Pacific region.


Learn exactly how deforestation in main American countries like Belize gives means to erosion and poverty
In Belize and elsewhere in main America, deforestation has caused major problems.
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Central America’s organic vegetation is varied. Dry rainforests accounting the eastern lowlands, if evergreen woodlands clothe the lower slopes follow me the Pacific coast, and pine and oak forests grow at somewhat higher elevations. Lot of central America’s timberland, however, has been cleared by slash-and-burn cultivators, who relocate on when the floor is exhausted. This extensive type of cultivation has come to be less sustainable together fallow durations are shortened in solution to increasing demographic pressures and as the woodland soils lose their capability to recuperate. The central American woodlands are reasonably sparsely lived in with mammals, generously lived in with reptiles, and also extremely affluent in birds and also insects. Monkeys, tree frogs, iguanas, and snakes space abundant.

Central America can be approximately divided right into a much less populous Caribbean fifty percent and a slightly much more congested Pacific coastal slope, be separated by a sequence of fairly densely worked out highland regions. The region’s price of populace increase is among the highest possible in the world, though child mortality is high and life expectancy is normally low (less therefore in Costa Rica and also Panama). Spanish is the leading language of central America and the main language in 6 of the countries; English is the lingua franca of much of the Caribbean coast and the main language that Belize. Plenty of Indian languages are also spoken throughout the region.

Roman Catholicism is the professed religion of four out that five main Americans; nearly all others adhere to various Protestant faiths. In the much more remote areas (principally occupied by Indians), traditional religious practices and also Roman Catholicism coexist. By the 21st century, Evangelical Protestantism made an extensive inroads into traditionally roman inn Catholic communities.


cathedral, Comayagua, Honduras
The cathedral in ~ Comayagua, Honduras.
Charles May/Shostal Associates

At least two-thirds of main Americans are of combined ancestry. Till the start of the 19th century, immigration was officially restricted to citizens of Spain, and the Spanish were hence the only far-reaching European contributors to the ethnic mixture that the area. Three-fifths that the people of main America room of mixed European and also Indian lower (called Ladinos in Guatemala and also mestizos elsewhere), and also one-fifth are Indian. Smaller areas of mulattoes (people of blended European and African descent), zambos (mixed Indian and also African descent), descendants of Europeans, and descendants that Chinese, southern Asian, and also African indentured labourers comprise the remainder. Most of the ar Indian population is in Guatemala (the Maya, make up an ext than two-fifths of the country’s complete population). Plenty of of the remaining Indians live in adjoining Honduras and also El Salvador; elsewhere, just in Belize space Indians a far-reaching element (about one-tenth) the the population.

From the mid-19th century main America’s economic situation was based on the production of coffee and bananas because that export. Cotton, sugar, and beef were exported in increasing amounts after people War II. Corn (maize), beans, and squash traditionally have been grown together staple foods. Vigorous financial growth throughout the 1960s and ’70s was complied with by national indebtedness and low or an adverse economic expansion rates in the 1980s. Transparent the 1980s and into the ’90s, armed conflict, civil wars, high inflation, and poor social conditions contributed to a deteriorating economy, and also most countries had to seek foreign assist from the World bank or the international Monetary Fund. The civil unrest of the 1980s displaced up to 1,000,000 people, consisting of an estimated 500,000 Salvadorans who gotten in the joined States. Tens of hundreds of others migrated to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and also other nations in the region. Close to the end of the 1990s, the region’s economies rebounded, and the privatization of companies and also utilities, along with the spread out of totally free trade, aided expansion (however, Nicaragua’s economic climate still suffers, and also Honduras was collection back by Hurricane Mitch in 1998). Through the end of the 20th century, main America’s federal governments had attempted come revitalize the economic climate by cultivating the diversification and expansion the nontraditional exports and also free-trade zones, and also assembly tree (maquiladoras) were created to encourage the expansion and also decentralization of manufacturing.

Growing diversification in the economies of the region, however, has actually not detailed a more equitable distribution of wealth. Production is high solution hampered by central America’s limited mineral and also energy resources and also by the restricted size the its market. Much commercial employment is in the kind of head industries, and artisans outnumber manufacturing facility workers. The handling of food, beverages, and tobacco and also the make of textiles, clothing, shoes, furniture, and leather are the main industries. Farming still employs a larger proportion of workers than any type of other sector—except in Panama, where services, mainly related come the Panama Canal, room of major economic importance. Tourism has actually increased largely in Belize, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.

By 2001 Ecuador and also El Salvador had embraced the U.S. Dollar together their financial unit, and it to be an accepted type of currency in Panama and also Guatemala. The key trading partners outside the region are the united States, Canada, and also countries in west Europe. By the mid-2000s, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica had gotten in into the main America–Dominican Republic cost-free Trade commitment (CAFTA-DR) with the united States.

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This short article covers the history of the area indigenous prehistoric and also pre-Columbian times to the present. Extr information ~ above the region’s physical and human location can be discovered in write-ups on the individual countries of the an ar (see Belize; Guatemala; El Salvador; Honduras; Nicaragua; Costa Rica; Panama). Area 201,594 square mile (522,129 square km). Pop. (2006 est.) 40,338,000.