We explain everything about Central America, its characteristics, history and culture. In addition, its economy, the Panama canal, flora and fauna.
What is Central America?
Central America or Central America is the region of the American continent that borders North America , South America , the Pacific Ocean in the west and the Atlantic Ocean along with the Caribbean Sea and various islands in the eastern region.
The Central American territory comprises two geographical areas:
- Isthmic Central America. It refers to the narrow continental strip that joins North America and South America.
- Insular America or Antilles . It refers to the groups of islands that extend over the Caribbean Sea in the Atlantic Ocean.
Central America has an area of 522,700 square kilometers and a population density of about 50,700,000 inhabitants. It is made up of a part of Mexico , 7 countries in the isthmic region and 13 countries in the insular region.
The Central American territory presents a central mountain chain that extends from Mexico to Panama and has active volcanoes . In addition, it is noted for the warm-climate coastal plains to the east.
There are sixteen places in Central America that were considered World Heritage by UNESCO (United Nations for Education, Science and Culture), such as the Barrier Reef Reserve system in Belize, the Isla del Coco National Park in Costa Rica, Antigua Guatemala and the Joya de Cerén archaeological site in El Salvador, among others.
Characteristics of Central America
Among the main characteristics of Central America are:
- It is a strip of the American continent that joins the northern or Anglo-Saxon part with the south of the continent .
- It contains the Panama Canal, which is an interoceanic navigation route built by the human being that connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans that, naturally, would be separated by the continental mass.
- Its insular coastline in the east stretches out over the Caribbean Sea , with two groups of islands: the Greater Antilles and the Lesser Antilles.
- The tropical climate predominates with abundant rains , especially on the east side and the foothills and temperate climate to the west.
- Its isthmic or continental region is made up of 7 countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and 5 states of Mexico: Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Yucatán.
- Its insular region is made up of 3 island groups that contain 13 independent countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.
Central America History
Pre-Columbian Central America was characterized by the great civilizations that inhabited the region and that were symbols of majesty and splendor, such as the Mayans in much of present-day Guatemala and the Aztecs in present-day Mexico.
Starting with the Spanish conquest of 1492, Central America was subdued by the Spanish monarchy, which exercised domination and cultural influence in the “new world”, annihilating much of the history of the Amerindian peoples.
Central America gained independence from Spain on September 15, 1821 and in 1823 the United Provinces of Central America were established to reinforce the union of independent nations and to rescue part of their original culture that had been annihilated.
In 1856 Nicaragua had the so-called “second independence” but from the United States , after the Battle of San Jacinto in which 180 soldiers under the command of General José Dolores Estrada defeated 300 US soldiers who had the objective of seizing the territory.
Central American Culture
The population of Central America is, for the most part, mestizo.
Central America stands out for its mestizo population , that is, it emerged from the mixture of indigenous people with Europeans due to the influences of the Spanish invasion and the links they established with the indigenous people.
Pre-Columbian Central America had a high population density with native peoples such as the Mayas, the Incas , the Payas, the Lencas, the Pipiles, the Kunas, and the Chortis.
The various pre-Columbian American peoples suffered the European invasion that caused a mixture of cultures and races and the emergence of populations of Creoles, mulattos and Afro-Americans, among others.
The predominant language in Central America today is Spanish , except in Belize where English is spoken and in some islands, such as Dominica and Haiti, where French is spoken. In addition, dialects of the original languages abound .
The Christian religions that predominate today are Catholicism and Protestantism. In addition, Judaism , Buddhism and other religions of indigenous origin are practiced.
Central American economy and resources
The main economic force in Central America is based on the availability of sea lanes that facilitate foreign trade . It has a large number of ports, such as Acajutla in El Salvador, Bahía Las Minas in Panama, Corinto in Nicaragua , Puerto Cortés in Honduras, Puerto Limón in Costa Rica and the main international trade route : the Panama Canal.
Through the various maritime routes, Central America developed its economy for internal consumption and for export . The main industries are agriculture, with crops of coffee , banana, sugar cane and cotton , and the stone and precious metal mining industry that is significant for tourism in coastal areas.
The Panama canal
The Panama Canal is the only international short-transit seaway.
The Panama Canal is an interoceanic navigation route that connects the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea of the Atlantic Ocean . Since its inauguration in 1914, it has been the main source of international trade because it represents the only short transit route for cargo ships and tourist ships.
If it were not for the Panama Canal, ships would have to cost South America and cross the Strait of Magellan with the difficulties that the natural maritime passage of that southern region implies due to the cold temperatures and the presence of ice.
The Panama Canal runs through the narrowest part of the continent that passes over the central Cordillera . It is made up of a series of locks, which are enclosures with gates, which allow the amount of water to be leveled between one section and the next as the ship passes.
Flora and fauna of Central America
Central America is noted for birds, such as toucans, parrots, and quetzals.
The flora of Central America is very abundant due to the prevailing climate conditions , of a tropical type that is humid and rainy. It presents vast extensions of wild vegetation and forests in the regions near the slopes of the Cordillera Central. Mahogany is the national tree of the Dominican Republic where it grows naturally.
Despite the reduced territory compared to the rest of the continent and representing 1% of the entire earth’s surface, Central America has 8% of the planet’s natural reserves that are home to more than 20,000 plant species .
The representative fauna of Central America is concentrated in the imposing national parks. such as the margay, the ocelot, the jaguar, the opossum, the puma, the gray fox, the coyote, the armadillo, the anteaters and bezudo, the manatee, the green turtle and the iguana stand out.
In addition, snakes such as the boa constrictor, birds such as quetzals, parrots and toucans , and fish such as sharks and aquatic mammals such as dolphins stand out.
Insular America or Antilles
Insular America or Antilles corresponds to the groups of islands that are found in the Caribbean Sea of the Atlantic Ocean and includes an extension that goes from the Florida peninsula of the United States to the east coast of Venezuela .
The two groups of islands are:
- Greater Antilles or Greater Antilles. Group of islands made up of: Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
- Lesser Antilles or Lesser Antilles. Group of islands made up of: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago.
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