Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. Most of Central America is considered to be part of the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot.
Central America has an area of 524,000 square kilometers (202,000 sq mi), or almost 0.1% of the Earth’s surface. As of 2009, its population was estimated at 41,739,000. It has a density of 79 people per square kilometer or 206 people per square mile.
The region is geologically active, with volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occurring from time to time. In 1976 Guatemala was hit by a major earthquake, killing 23,000 people; Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, was devastated by earthquakes in 1931 and 1972, the last one killed about 5,000 people; three earthquakes devastated El Salvador, one in 1986 and two in 2001; one earthquake devastated northern and central Costa Rica in 2009 killing at least 34 people; in Honduras a powerful earthquake killed 7 people in 2009.
Volcanic eruptions are common in the region. In 1968 the Arenal Volcano, in Costa Rica, erupted and killed 87 people. Fertile soils from weathered volcanic lavas have made it possible to sustain dense populations in the agriculturally productive highland areas.
Central America has many mountain ranges; the longest are the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, the Cordillera Isabelia and the Cordillera de Talamanca. Between the mountain ranges lie fertile valleys that are suitable for the people; in fact most of the population of Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala live in valleys. Valleys are also suitable for the production of coffee, beans and other crops.
Geopolitically, Central America has traditionally consisted of the following countries:
Name of territory, with flag
|Area (km²)||Population (July 2009 est.)||Population density (per km²)||Capital||
|Costa Rica||51,100||4,579,000||90||San José||Spanish|
|El Salvador||21,040||6,163,000||292||San Salvador||Spanish|
Many modern definitions of Central America include Belize, and Panama, which did not exist upon the formation of the Federal Republic of Central America, a short-lived union created after most of the region gained independence from Spain in 1821. The territory now occupied by Belize was originally contested by the United Kingdom and the Spanish Empire and, later, Guatemala (which has considered it, wholly or partially, an eastern department); it became a British colony (British Honduras) in 1871 and gained independence in 1981.
Panama, situated on the Isthmus of Panama, is sometimes regarded as a transcontinental territory. Because of the Panama Canal, it is considered part of both North America and South America. For much of its post-Columbian history, Panama was culturally linked to South America. Panama was a possession of the Viceroyalty of New Granada, and then, following independence, became a part of la Gran Colombia (Greater Colombia). Only after independence from Colombia in 1903 did some begin to regard Panama as a North or Central American entity.
-Enjoy these funny exercises about Central America!