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Central America is the southernmost region of phibìc America. The lies between Mexico and South America, and it contains the nations Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Belize.
Central America is no a continent. Continents are huge landmasses embedded in major tectonic plates, which room sections of earth’s rigid external layer the overlie a partly molten layer and also move family member to one another. Main America is embedded in a tectonic plate, yet both the landmass and the key are much smaller 보다 those the the continent it bridges, phibìc America and South America, so that is not taken into consideration to it is in a continent.
Central America experiences frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to the fact that it lies where several tectonic bowl meet and also exert press on one another. These plates have the right to suddenly rupture and slip, releasing power as earthquakes. Volcanoes are likewise common at these plate boundaries.
Several conquistadores traveled to main America in the early on 16th century, however they make no settlements. One together conquistador to be Rodrigo de Bastidas, who established Spain’s insurance claim to main America in 1501. The very first stable Spanish negotiation in main America was developed in 1510, as soon as Vasco Núñez de Balboa and also his crew resolved near what is now the Colombia-Panama border.
Spanish is the most widely spoken language in central America because of the Spanish colonization of the region beginning in the so late 15th century. The only main American country whose official language isn’t Spanish is Belize—mainly since British settlers lengthy outnumbered Spanish persons there, and, in the 19th century, britain formally changed Spain as the territory’s governing authority.
Central America, southernmost an ar of north America, lying in between Mexico and South America and also comprising Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Belize. (Geologists and physical geographers sometimes expand the northern boundary to the Isthmus that Tehuantepec in Mexico.)
The holy place of Inscriptions, Palenque, Mexico. The mountain aspect was stood for by the Mayan society in pyramidal stone temples.
Central America makes up many of the tapering isthmus the separates the Pacific Ocean, come the west, from the Caribbean Sea. The extends in one arc approximately 1,140 miles (1,835 km) long from the northwest to the southeast. At its narrowest point the isthmus is only around 30 miles (50 km) wide, and also there is no ar in central America the is an ext distant 보다 125 miles (200 km) indigenous the sea.
Humid swamps and lowlands prolong along both the west and also east coasts, however four-fifths of main America is either hilly or mountainous. The western tape of Pacific seaside lowland is narrow and overshadowed by mountain ranges, and, other than in Nicaragua and Honduras, the eastern levels along the Caribbean are additionally narrow. Key steadily boosts west of the Caribbean lowlands, until, toward the Pacific Coast, plateau highlands finish in hill ridges and also some 40 volcanic cones, several of which achieve elevations of an ext than 12,000 feet (3,700 metres). Part of central America’s volcanoes erupt violently from time to time, and also earthquakes typically occur in the region. The weathered volcanic lavas develop a fertile soil, however, and the highlands that the volcano zones have consequently end up being highly productive farming zones and areas of dense population.
The climates of main America are basically tropical, tempered by proximity come the sea, by elevation, by latitude, and by regional topography; in consequence, they might vary dramatically over brief distances. Elevation mitigates the climatic impacts of main America’s tropical latitude for this reason that average temperatures in the highlands room much lower than those in the seaside lowlands. Rainfall wake up primarily throughout the summer and also is heaviest in between May and also November. January through March are the driest months. In general, the Caribbean next receives around twice as much rain together the Pacific region.
Learn just how deforestation in main American nations like Belize gives method to erosion and poverty
In Belize and also elsewhere in central America, deforestation has caused severe problems.
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Central America’s natural vegetation is varied. Tropic rainforests occupy the eastern lowlands, if evergreen woodlands clothe the reduced slopes along the Pacific coast, and pine and oak forests grow at somewhat greater 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 kind of growing has come to be less sustainable as fallow durations are shortened in solution to increasing demographic pressures and as the forest soils shed their ability to recuperate. The main American forests are relatively sparsely populated with mammals, generously lived in with reptiles, and also extremely well-off in birds and also insects. Monkeys, tree frogs, iguanas, and also snakes room abundant.
Central America have the right to be about divided right into a much less populous Caribbean half and a slightly more congested Pacific coastal slope, be separated by a sequence of fairly densely settled highland regions. The region’s rate of populace increase is one of the highest possible in the world, though infant mortality is high and life expectations is normally low (less therefore in Costa Rica and Panama). Spanish is the dominant language of main America and also the main language in 6 of the countries; English is the lingua franca of much of the Caribbean coast and also the main language that Belize. Many Indian languages space also spoken throughout the region.
Roman Catholicism is the professed faith of 4 out the five main Americans; practically all others adhere to various Protestant faiths. In the an ext remote locations (principally lived in by Indians), traditional spiritual practices and also Roman Catholicism coexist. By the 21st century, Evangelical Protestantism made substantial inroads right into traditionally roman inn Catholic communities.
cathedral, Comayagua, Honduras
The cathedral in ~ Comayagua, Honduras.
Charles May/Shostal Associates
At least two-thirds of central Americans are of combined ancestry. Until the beginning of the 19th century, immigration was officially limited to citizens of Spain, and also the Spanish were therefore the only significant European contributors to the country mixture that the area. Three-fifths the the people of central America are of mixed European and Indian descent (called Ladinos in Guatemala and mestizos elsewhere), and also one-fifth are Indian. Smaller areas of mulattoes (people of blended European and African descent), zambos (mixed Indian and African descent), progeny of Europeans, and also descendants that Chinese, south Asian, and also African indentured labourers comprise the remainder. Most of the ar Indian populace is in Guatemala (the Maya, do up an ext than two-fifths of that country’s total population). Numerous of the staying Indians live in adjoining Honduras and El Salvador; elsewhere, only in Belize space Indians a significant element (about one-tenth) of the population.
From the mid-19th century central America’s economy was based on the production of coffee and bananas for export. Cotton, sugar, and beef were exported in increasing quantities after human being War II. Corn (maize), beans, and also squash traditionally have actually been grown together staple foods. Vigorous financial growth throughout the 1960s and ’70s was followed by nationwide indebtedness and also low or an adverse economic growth rates in the 1980s. Transparent the 1980s and also into the ’90s, armed conflict, civil wars, high inflation, and also poor social conditions contributed come a deteriorating economy, and also most nations had to seek foreign help from the World bank or the worldwide Monetary Fund. The civil unrest of the 1980s displaced approximately 1,000,000 people, consisting of an approximated 500,000 Salvadorans who gone into the united States. Tens of thousands of others migrated to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and also other countries in the region. Close to the finish of the 1990s, the region’s economic situations rebounded, and also the privatization the companies and utilities, in addition to the spread out of complimentary trade, aided development (however, Nicaragua’s economic climate still suffers, and Honduras was collection back by Hurricane Mitch in 1998). By the end of the 20th century, central America’s governments had attempted come revitalize the economic climate by cultivating the diversification and also expansion of nontraditional exports and also free-trade zones, and also assembly tree (maquiladoras) were established to encourage the expansion and also decentralization of manufacturing.
Growing diversification in the economies of the region, however, has actually not listed a much more equitable distribution of wealth. Production is high solution hampered by main America’s minimal mineral and also energy resources and by the minimal size the its market. Much commercial employment is in the kind of head industries, and also artisans outnumber factory workers. The processing of food, beverages, and also tobacco and the make of textiles, clothing, shoes, furniture, and also leather room the main industries. Farming still employs a bigger proportion of employees than any kind of other sector—except in Panama, where services, largely related to the Panama Canal, space of major economic importance. Tourism has actually increased greatly in Belize, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.
By 2001 Ecuador and El Salvador had adopted the U.S. Dollar as their monetary unit, and also it was an accepted form of currency in Panama and Guatemala. The main trading partners external the region are the united States, Canada, and also countries in west Europe. Through the mid-2000s, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica had gone into into the main America–Dominican Republic cost-free Trade covenant (CAFTA-DR) through the unified States.
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This article covers the background of the area indigenous prehistoric and pre-Columbian times to the present. Extr information top top the region’s physical and human geography can be found in short articles 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.