Central America lies on the Caribbean Plate and is considered geologically active, with volcanic eruption and earthquakes occurring from time to time. It is also part of the Mesoamerican Biodiversity hotspot contributing 7% to the world's biodiversity.
There is a belief that Central Americans are descendants of Asians who migrated 20,000 years ago by crossing the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska, all the way down to the Americas. Others believe that the Asians crossed California 11,000 years ago. Then the European's arrived and colonized today's Central America.
Today, there are 38 million people living in Central America. They are mostly Mestizos, which is a combination of Native American and European lineage. In general, the citizens of Central America are warm, kind, and friendly to foreigners.
Central America may seem to be dwarfed by its neighboring continent and countries. Nevertheless, its cultural diversity and beautiful destinations will rival any other place. It is made up of seven small tropical countries which are Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Mexico sometimes gets into the mix because of its language and the Mayan/Spanish heritage that is similar to the countries in Central America.
Central America connects the North American continent to the South American continent and has a land area of about 592,000 square kilometers. It is bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the west, the Gulf of Mexico to the north, Columbia to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the east.
El Salvador is a republic located in Central America, quaintly nestled between Guatemala and Honduras, on the Gulf of Fonseca. El Salvador is home to the indigenous Pipil people. After defeating the Pipil the Spanish settled El Salvador and established what is country's current capitol city, San Salvador. During the year 1810 Central American locals decided they would seek independence from the Spanish crown. By 1839 El Salvador had successfully attained independence.
Guatemala has a long, rich history that begins with the great and mystical Mayan Civilization. Evidence of that advanced culture can be found all throughout the region, making a visit to the country a necessity for both history aficionados and Mayan scholars alike. Guatemala is a Central American country that shares a border with Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, the Caribbean and Mexico. It is an astoundingly beautiful country, full of mountains and volcanic peaks, lush tropical forests, and exotic flora and fauna to keep a nature lover busy for days.
Located in Central America, Belize offers beaches and offshore islands for exploration. Feel the winds off the Caribbean as you gaze upon the national flower, the black orchid. Enjoy "rice hour" or lunch in a street cafe. Once part of the Mayan empire, there are still ruins to be explored as well as an extensive cave system. While you're in an exploring mood, the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere is just off the coast, with miles of coral reef to see. In fact, all sorts of sports are available in Belize from zip lining to canoeing.
When people think about the Republic of Nicaragua, it is their turbulent political past that comes to mind rather than the rich, variegated landscape. But the country is more than its past. The amazing biodiversity found in Nicaragua makes it the perfect vacation spot for nature lovers. Sandwiched between Honduras and Costa Rica, Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America.
Panama is situated at the crossroads of two continents, between North America and South America, and between two oceans, the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. The geographical advantage of Panama has made the country of tremendous strategic importance, playing a very important role throughout the history of both continents as well as for international traders and travelers passing through the Panama Canal.
Costa Rica is one of the many countries in Central America. It constitutionally abolished its army as far back as 1949 and it is one of the first carbon neutral countries in the world. It has Nicaragua to its north and Panama to its east and south, and the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea form its coastal borders. The name translates as the 'Rich Coast' and it is reputed to be the greenest country in the world. Though it is a very small country in size, it is home to 4% of the world's total species, with over 400 bird species and over 100 mammals. It is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world. Costa Rica has oil deposits off its coast in the Caribbean Sea, but has elected not to develop them. Its mountainous terrain and rainfall have allowed it to set up a number of hydroelectric plants, which make it self sufficient in electricity, and this source of power is largely non-polluting.
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