Central America

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Central America
Map of Central America
Area 523,780 km2 (202,233 sq mi)[1]
Population 41,739,000 (2009 est.)[1]
Density 77 /km2 (200 /sq mi)
Countries 7
Demonym Central American, American
GDP $107.7 billion (exchange rate) (2006)
$ 226.3 billion (purchasing power parity) (2006).
GDP per capita $2,541 (exchange rate) (2006)
$5,339 (purchasing power parity) (2006).
Languages Spanish, English, Mayan languages, Garifuna, Kriol, European languages, and many others
Time Zones UTC - 6:00, UTC - 5:00
Largest cities (2002) Guatemala City
San Salvador
Tegucigalpa
Managua
San Pedro Sula
Panama City
San José, Costa Rica
Santa Ana, El Salvador
León
San Miguel[2]

Central America (Spanish: América Central or Centroamérica) is the central geographic region of the Americas. It goes from Guatemala and Belize in the north-west, to Panama in the south-east. It is the area of land that sits south-east of Mexico and north-west of Colombia. It is between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Central America in red

This is a list of the countries in Central America, from the largest to the smallest:

Guatemala is not the largest country but it has the largest population. It has more than 14 million people. It also has the largest city, Guatemala City.

Guatemala City is the largest city in Central America.

All the countries in Central America speak Spanish except for Belize. They speak English. Some people also speak indigenous or creole languages like the Maya languages. Central America has an area of 524,000 square kilometers (202,000 sq mi). It is almost 0.1% of the Earth's surface. As of 2009 the population was estimated at 41,739,000. It has a density of 77 people per square kilometer.

Central America is part of the continent known as North America.

Geography[change | edit source]

Countries and capitals of Central America.

Central America has an area of 524,000 square kilometers (202,000 sq mi). It is almost 0.1% of the Earth's total surface. In 2009 the population was estimated at 41,739,000. It has a density of 77 people per square kilometer or 206 people per square mile.

Physical geography[change | edit source]

     Central America and the Caribbean Plate

Central America has many unique features that go from the north-western borders of Belize and Guatemala to the Isthmus of Panama. There it connects to the Colombian Pacific Lowlands in South America.

Central America is an area of some 524,000 square kilometres. The Pacific Ocean is on the southwest, the Caribbean Seain the northeast, and the Gulf of Mexico in the north. Most of Central America rests on the Caribbean Plate.

The region is geologically active. It has volcanic eruptions and earthquakes from time to time.

The 1976 Guatemala earthquake killed 23,001 people. Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, was devastated by earthquakes in 1931 and 1972. The last one killed about 5,001 people. Three earthquakes hit El Salvador. The first one in 1986 and two in 2001. An earthquake devastated northern and central Costa Rica in 2009. It killed at least 35 people. In Honduras a powerful earthquake happened in 2009.

Volcanic eruptions are common. In 1968 the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica erupted. This killed at least 87 people. The 3 villages of Tabacon, Pueblo Nuevo, and San Luis were buried under ash.

Central America has many mountain ranges; the longest are the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, the Cordillera Isabelia and the Cordillera de Talamanca. Most of the population of Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala live in valleys, between mountains. Valleys are also suitable for the production of coffee, beans and other crops.

Biodiversity[change | edit source]

El Chorreron, El Salvador.
San Pedro Beach in Ambergris Caye, Belize
Tropical beach (El Zonte) near La Libertad, El Salvador.

Central America is part of the Mesoamerican Biodiversity hotspot, boasting 7% of the world's biodiversity.[3] As a bridge between North and South America, Central America has many species from the Nearctic and the Neotropic ecozones. However the southern countries (Costa Rica and Panama) of the region have more biodiversity than the northern countries (Guatemala and Belize), meanwhile the central countries (Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador) have least biodiversity.[3] The table shows current statistics for the seven countries:

Country Amphibians Birds Mammals Reptile
 Belize 46[4] 544[4] 147[4] 140[4] 877[4] 2894[4] 3771[4]
 Costa Rica 183[5] 838[5] 232[5] 258[5] 1511[5] 12119[5] 13630[5]
 El Salvador 30[6] 434[6] 137[6] 106[6] 707[6] 2911[6] 3618[6]
 Guatemala 133[7] 684[7] 193[7] 236[7] 1246[7] 8681[7] 9927[7]
 Honduras 101[8] 699[8] 201[8] 213[8] 1214[8] 5680[8] 6894[8]
 Nicaragua 61[9] 632[9] 181[9] 178[9] 1052[9] 7590[9] 8642[9]
 Panama 182[10] 904[10] 241[10] 242[10] 1569[10] 9915[10] 11484[10]

References[change | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Areas and population estimates taken from the 2008 CIA World Factbook, whose population estimates are as of July 2007.
  2. Largest Cities in Central America, Rhett Butler. Accessed on line January 10, 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 http://www.webng.com/jerbarker/home/eia-toolkit/downloads/Van04/RojasVancouver.pdf
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 "Belize Deforestation Rates and Related Forestry Figures". Rainforests.mongabay.com. http://rainforests.mongabay.com/deforestation/2000/Belize.htm. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 "Costa Rica Deforestation Rates and Related Forestry Figures". Rainforests.mongabay.com. 2005-06-30. http://rainforests.mongabay.com/deforestation/2000/Costa_Rica.htm. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 "El Salvador Deforestation Rates and Related Forestry Figures". Rainforests.mongabay.com. 2005-06-30. http://rainforests.mongabay.com/deforestation/2000/El_Salvador.htm. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 "Guatemala Deforestation Rates and Related Forestry Figures". Rainforests.mongabay.com. http://rainforests.mongabay.com/deforestation/2000/Guatemala.htm. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 "Honduras Deforestation Rates and Related Forestry Figures". Rainforests.mongabay.com. http://rainforests.mongabay.com/deforestation/2000/Honduras.htm. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 "Nicaragua Deforestation Rates and Related Forestry Figures". Rainforests.mongabay.com. http://rainforests.mongabay.com/deforestation/2000/Nicaragua.htm. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 "Panama Deforestation Rates and Related Forestry Figures". Rainforests.mongabay.com. http://rainforests.mongabay.com/deforestation/2000/Panama.htm. Retrieved 2010-04-17.