Central America is a narrow strip of land that connects two larger landmasses.
Central America is situated in the central physical region of the two Americas.
It is the southern-most part of North America and is connected to South
America. It acts as a bridge between North America and South America. Central
America is a part of the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot with about 7% of the
worlds' biodiversity. The southern countries of Central America such as Costa Rica
and Panama have more biodiversity as compared to the northern countries such as
Guatemala and Belize. The central part of Central America consisting of
Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador has the least biodiversity.
Geography of Central America
Central America extends from Isthmus of Tehuantepec in South Mexico to Isthmus
of Panama. Here, it connects to the Columbian Pacific Lowlands in the north-western
South America. The land of Central America is surrounded by water bodies
on three sides. On the south-western side of Central America is the Pacific
Ocean while on the north-eastern side is located the Caribbean Sea. In the
north of Central America is the Gulf of Mexico.
Most of Central America is a part of the Caribbean Plate. It is a geologically
active region and it experiences earthquakes from time to time. There are also
active volcanoes in the region and there are volcanic eruptions taking place at
various points of time. For example, the earthquake of 1931 and 1972 almost
destroyed the Nicaraguan capital, Managua. The latest earthquake resulted in
the loss of about 10,000 human lives. El Salvador has experienced three
earthquakes that devastated the region. The earthquakes of 2009 in Costa Rica
and Honduras have claimed many lives.
The volcanic eruptions are also a common phenomenon of Central America.
But the fertile soils from the weathered volcanic lavas have enabled the people
to grow crops and sustain themselves. As a result of fertile soils, the region
houses dense population. Central America also has high mountain ranges.
Between the mountain ranges are located some more agriculturally favourable
lands. The fertile lands of the valleys allow and sustain dense populations in
the valleys. The valleys also provide favourable terrain and climatic
conditions for the growth of coffee and beans along with some other crops.
Climate of Central America
The mountains and plain areas on the Pacific side of Central America have
different climates from the mountains and plains on the Caribbean side of
Central America. The mountains and plains on the Caribbean side experience
little rainfall from the month of December to April. The mountains and plains
on the Pacific side experience heavy rainfall from September to February. The
central and northern Mexico experiences the longest dry season. There is also a
wet season when the regions experiences rainfall during the late afternoons and
the evenings for a short while. The wet season can also result in high humidity
levels and extreme heat in the region. The latitude of the terrain determines
the temperature for most part of Central America.
The terrain of Belize in Central America is flat and swampy. It is a coastal
plain that has mountains in the southern part. The climate of Belize is
tropical which is hot and humid. The rainy season is from May to November while
the dry season is from February to May. The terrain of Costa Rica is
characterized by coastal plains that are separated by rugged mountains. The
climate here is tropical and subtropical.
The region experiences dry season from December to April and rainy season from
May to November. The higher lands of Costa Rica are cooler as compared to other
regions. The lands of El Salvador are mostly covered by the mountains and
there is also a narrow coastal belt. Some parts of El Salvador consist of
Central Plateau. The climate of El Salvador is majorly tropical. The rainy
season for this area is from May to October and the dry season is from November
to April. The coastal regions of El Salvador have a tropical climate while the
uplands are temperate.
The region of Guatemala is also covered by the mountains. There are narrow
coastal plains and a rolling limestone Plateau. The climate of Guatemala is
tropical. It is hot and humid in the lowlands while the uplands are
cooler. Honduras is dominated by mountains in the interiors and there are
narrow coastal lines. The climate for Honduras is subtropical in the lowlands
and temperate in uplands. Nicaragua is characterized by extensive Atlantic
coastal lines that rise to central interior mountains. There is also the narrow
Pacific coastal plain that is interrupted by volcanoes at various points. The
climate of Nicaragua is tropical in lowlands while there are cooler
The interiors of Panama are mostly rugged. There are steep mountains making the
interiors dissected. The uplands of Panama are plain and the coastal areas are
also largely plains with some rolling hills. Panama experiences tropical
maritime climate. The weather is hot, humid and cloudy. There is a
prolonged rainy season in Panama that extends from May to January while there
is only a short dry season that spans from January to May.
People of Central America
Before Christopher Columbus reached the Americas, many Native American cultures
thrived in the Americas. The region of Central America was a part of
Mesoamerica. The Mayan civilization was also part of America. The Maya
civilization had its own number system that was based on 20 rather than 10.
This civilization also used a typical written language that comprised symbols.
There were many books written by the people of Mayan civilization but most of
the books were burnt by the Spanish conquerors.
The people of this civilization decorated their monuments and potteries with
their writings and art work. The ancient people also had the accurate knowledge
of mathematics. They studied planets and stars and invented an accurate
calendar. The Mayan civilization disappeared when the Spanish came and
conquered the lands in the 1520s. In the later years, some parts were also
captured by the British people. Today, Central America is independent with
Belize being the least populated country. All the countries of Central America
are governed by independent governments today. Except Belize and Costa Rica, all
the countries are also a part of the Central American parliament.
Along with the Native Americans and Spanish, today the region is also home to
smaller ethnic groups of Africa. Except Belize, the countries of Central
America have adopted Spanish as the official language. The people of Belize
speak English and it is the official language of Belize. The native languages
are still spoken in many parts of Central America.
Tourist Attractions in Central America
As the regions of Central America are still in the developing stage, the tourism
industry is also growing. The majority of the population of Central
America is considered to be poor. There have been many natural disasters and
civil wars that have constantly devastated the lands of Central America in the
past. In spite of all these facts, Central America is one of the favourite
Some of the reasons for Central America being a top tourist destination are the
beautiful natural beauty of the region and the nightlife. There is warm
and sunny weather that attracts more people to relax and rejuvenate in the
natural surroundings. The travellers to Central America can experience the
ocean beaches, the mountain forests and breath-taking waterfalls. There is city
life which never stops giving the tourists endless options to enjoy.
The regions of Central America have been very popular among the adventurous
people. For example, sand bugging in the Ica deserts can provide one of the
most thrilling experiences of life. It is a perfect stress buster and leaves
memories for a lifetime. Diving in Utila, a part of Honduras can be another
memorable experience. There are beautiful sea beaches for the peace loving
people who can simply enjoy the sun rises and the sun sets. Tikal in Guatemala
is a breathtakingly beautiful city that still has the marks of ancient Mayan
Costa Rica is one of the major attractions of the region. It is a tropical
paradise that is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on its west and by the
Caribbean Sea on the east. Costa Rica offers bird-watching as the most
wonderful gifts to its tourists. There are about 800 species of birds in the
protected national parks of Costa Rica. The land offers some of the most
diverse natural wonders. There are mountains and volcanic ranges to be enjoyed
along with the beaches and the rainy forests.
The tourist can also enjoy surfing at the world-class beaches and enjoy
parasailing. Honduras also has some of the most beautiful beaches such as Bay
Islands of Roatan, Guanaja, and Utila. The lands of Honduras are home to some
of the best historical places. People can enjoy the historical colonial towns
that feature Spanish colonial heritage along with ancient Mayan ruins.
The best time to visit any regions of Central America is the dry season that
spans from November to April.
Authors: Shampa Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris Updated On:14/11/2009