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Central America
Central America

Area Population Density Countries Demonym GDP GDP per capita Languages Time Zones

523,780 km²[1] 41,739,000 (2009 est.)[1] 77 per km² 7 Central American, American $107.7 billion (exchange rate) (2006) $ 226.3 billion (purchasing power parity) (2006). $2,541 (exchange rate) (2006) $5,339 (purchasing power parity) (2006). Spanish, English, Mayan languages, Garifuna, Kriol, European languages, and many others UTC - 6:00, UTC - 5:00

Largest cities (2002) Tegucigalpa Managua Guatemala City San Salvador San Pedro Sula Panama City San José, Costa Rica Santa Ana, El Salvador León San Miguel[2] Central America (Spanish: Centroamérica or América Central) 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.[3] [4] Most of Central America is considered to be part of the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot.[5]

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Physical geography
Physiographically, Central America is the tapering isthmus of southern North America, extending from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico southeastward to the Isthmus of Panama where it connects to the Colombian Pacific Lowlands in northwestern South America. Alternatively, the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt delimits the region on the north. Central America has an area of some 592,000 square kilometres. The Pacific Ocean lies to the southwest, the Caribbean Sea lies to the northeast, and the Gulf of Mexico lies to the north. Most of Central America rests atop the Caribbean Plate.
Central America and the Caribbean Plate.

The region is geologically active, with volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occurring from time to time. Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, was devastated by earthquakes in 1931 and 1972, the last one killed about 10,000 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.

Biodiversity
Central America is part of the Mesoamerican Biodiversity hotspot. It has 7% of the world's biodiversity.[6] As a bridge between North and South America, Central America has many species from the Nearctic and the Neotropic. 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.[6] The table shows current statistics for the seven countries:
Country  Belize  Costa Rica  El Salvador  Guatemala  Honduras  Nicaragua  Panama Amphibians 46 [7] [8] Birds 544 838 434 684 699 632 904 [7] [8] [9] Mammals Reptiles Wildlife diversity Vascular Plants Biodiversity 147 232 137 193 201 181 241 [7] [8] [9] 140 258 106 236 213 178 242 [7] [8] [9] 877 [7] [8] 2894 [7] [8] 3771 [7] [8]

183 30 133 101 61

1511 707 1246 1214 1052 1569

12119 2911 8681 5680 7590 9915

13630 3618 9927 6894 8642

[9] [10] [11]

[9] [10] [11] [12] [13]

[9]

[9]

[10] [11] [12] [13]

[10] [11] [12] [13]

[10] [11] [12] [13]

[10] [11] [12] [13]

[10] [11] [12] [13]

[12] [13]

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Human geography
Geopolitically, Central America has traditionally consisted of the following countries:
Name of territory, with flag  Belize  Costa Rica  El Salvador  Guatemala  Honduras  Nicaragua  Panama Total Population Area [1] (July 2009 est.) (km²) 22966 51100 21040 108890 112090 129494 78200 523780 307000 4579000 6163000 14027000 7466000 5743000 3454000 41739000 Population density (per km²) Capital Official language

13 Belmopan 90 San José 292 San Salvador

English Spanish Spanish

129 Guatemala City Spanish 67 Tegucigalpa 44 Managua 44 Panama City 80 Spanish Spanish 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.

History
In pre-Columbian times, the north-western areas of modern Central America were part of the Mesoamerican civilization. The Native American societies of Mesoamerica occupied the land ranging from central Mexico in the north to Costa Rica in the south. Most notable among these were the Maya, who had built numerous cities throughout the region, and the Aztecs, who created a vast empire. The pre-Columbian cultures of Panama traded with both Mesoamerica and South America, and can be considered transitional between those two cultural areas. Following Christopher Columbus's discovery of the Americas for Spain, the Spanish sent numerous expeditions to the region, and they began their conquest of Maya lands in the 1520s. In 1540, Spain established the Captaincy General of Guatemala, which extended from southern Mexico to Costa Rica, and thus encompassed most of what is currently known as Central America, with the exception of British Honduras (present-day Belize). This lasted nearly three centuries, until a rebellion (which followed closely on the heels of the Mexican War of Independence) in 1821. After the dissolution of Spanish authority, the former Captaincy General remained intact as part of the short-lived First Mexican

Map of the Republic of Central America

Central America Empire, then turned into the Federal Republic of Central America, which was a representative democracy with its capital at Guatemala City. This union consisted of the present day nations of Guatemala (which included the former state of Los Altos), El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica (which included a region which is now part of Panama, and the Guanacaste Province which was once part of Nicaragua), and Soconusco, a portion of the modern Mexican state of Chiapas. The Republic lasted from 1823 to 1838, when it began to disintegrate due to civil wars.

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Central American integration
Sistema de Integración Centroamericana Central American Integration System

Motto: «Peace, Development, Liberty and Democracy» Anthem: La Granadera

Area Population Countries

560,988 km² 50,807,778 hab.
 Belize  Costa Rica  Guatemala  Honduras  Nicaragua  Panama  El Salvador  Dominican

Republic Central America is going through a process of political, economic and cultural transformation that started in 1907 with the creation of the Central American Court of Justice. In 1951 the integration process continued with the signature of the San Salvador Treaty that created the ODECA, the Organization of Central American States. Unfortunately, the ODECA was not completely successful due to internal conflicts between several states of the region. It was until 1991 that the integration agenda was completed with the creation of the SICA, Sistema para la Integración Centroamericana or Countries part of the SICA System for the Central American Integration. The SICA provided a clear legal base to avoid discrepancies between the member states. The SICA membership includes the 7 nations of Central America plus the Dominican Republic, a state that is part of the Caribbean. On December 6, 2008 SICA announced an agreement to pursue a common currency and common passport for the member nations. No timeline for implementation was discussed. Central America already has several supranational institutions such as the Central American Parliament, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration and the Central American Common Market.

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Foreign relations
Until recently, all Central American countries have maintained diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) instead of the People's Republic of China.[14] President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, however, established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 2007, severing formal diplomatic ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Usage
"Central America" may mean different things to different people in the world according to the context: • In English speaking countries, Central America is considered a region of the North American continent.[15] Geopolitically, it usually comprises seven countries – Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.[16] Mexico, in whole or in part, is sometimes included.[17] Some geographers include the five states of Campeche, Chiapas, Tabasco, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán,[16] together representing 12.1% of the country's total area. • In Latin America, Iberia, and some other parts of Europe, the Americas are considered to be a single continent, and Central America is considered a region of this continent. In Ibero-America, the region is defined as seven nations – Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama – and may occasionally include Mexico's southernmost region.[18] Geopolitically, Mexico is considered part of North America.[19] • Occasionally, the term Central America is used synonymously with Middle America.[20] Among some German geographers, Mittelamerika may be used to refer to the territories on the Central American isthmus.[20] • In German, Zentralamerika may be used to refer to the territories on the Central American isthmus. • The UN geoscheme defines the region as all states of mainland North America south of the United States; conversely, the European Union excludes Belize and Mexico from its definition of the region.[21] [22]

See also
• Americas (terminology) • Middle America (Americas) • Mesoamerica

References
[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 (http:/ / www. mongabay. com/ igapo/ Central_American_cities. htm), Rhett Butler. Accessed on line January 10, 2008. [3] Central America (http:/ / encarta. msn. com/ encyclopedia_761574502/ Central_America. html), MSN Encarta. Accessed on line January 10, 2008. Archived (http:/ / www. webcitation. org/ query?id=1257007771573674) 2009-10-31. [4] "Central America", vol. 3, Micropædia, The New Encyclopædia Britannica, Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1990, 15th ed. ISBN 0-85229-511-1. [5] Mesoamerica (http:/ / www. biodiversityhotspots. org/ xp/ hotspots/ mesoamerica/ Pages/ default. aspx), Biodiversity Hotspots, Conservation International. Accessed on line January 10, 2008. [6] http:/ / www. webng. com/ jerbarker/ home/ eia-toolkit/ downloads/ Van04/ RojasVancouver. pdf [7] http:/ / rainforests. mongabay. com/ deforestation/ 2000/ Belize. htm [8] http:/ / rainforests. mongabay. com/ deforestation/ 2000/ Costa_Rica. htm [9] http:/ / rainforests. mongabay. com/ deforestation/ 2000/ El_Salvador. htm [10] http:/ / rainforests. mongabay. com/ deforestation/ 2000/ Guatemala. htm [11] http:/ / rainforests. mongabay. com/ deforestation/ 2000/ Honduras. htm [12] http:/ / rainforests. mongabay. com/ deforestation/ 2000/ Nicaragua. htm [13] http:/ / rainforests. mongabay. com/ deforestation/ 2000/ Panama. htm [14] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (http:/ / www. mofa. gov. tw/ webapp/ ct. asp?xItem=11624& CtNode=1143& mp=1) [15] " Central America (http:/ / www. m-w. com/ dictionary/ Central America)." Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

Central America
[16] " Central America (http:/ / www. britannica. com/ eb/ article-9110092/ Central-America)". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. [17] Burchfield, R. W. 2004. "America". Fowler's Modern English Usage (ISBN 0-19-861021-1) New York: Oxford University Press, p. 48. [18] Centroamérica (Mexican version) (http:/ / mx. encarta. msn. com/ encyclopedia_761574502/ Centroamérica. html)"/ Centroamérica (Spaniard version) (http:/ / es. encarta. msn. com/ encyclopedia_761574502/ Centroamérica. html). Encarta Online Encyclopedia.. Archived (http:/ / www. webcitation. org/ 5kwQiACIx) 2009-10-31. [19] " Norteamérica (http:/ / www. webcitation. org/ 5kwQijGaa)". Archived from the original (http:/ / mx. encarta. msn. com/ encyclopedia_761562468/ Norteamérica. html) on 2009-10-31. . [20] Augelli, John P. (1962 (Jun.)). " The Rimland-Mainland Concept of Culture Areas in Middle America (http:/ / www. jstor. org/ pss/ 2561309)". Annals of the Association of American Geographers. pp. 52 (2): 119-129. . Retrieved 2009-02-03. "Occasionally, the term "Central America" is used synonymously with "Middle America," and for some German geographers "Mittelamerika" refers to the isthmian territories from Panama to Guatemala." [21] Standard Country and Area Codes Classifications (M49) (http:/ / millenniumindicators. un. org/ unsd/ methods/ m49/ m49regin. htm). United Nations Statistics Division. [22] The EU's relations with Central America (http:/ / ec. europa. eu/ external_relations/ ca/ index. htm), European Commission. Accessed on line October 17, 2007.

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• " Central America (http://www.bartleby.com/65/ce/CentrAm.html)". The Columbia Encyclopedia (http:// www.bartleby.com/65/), 6th ed. 2001-6. New York: Columbia University Press. • " Central America (http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761574502/Central_America.html)" ( Archived (http://www.webcitation.org/query?id=1257007771573674) 2009-10-31). MSN Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2006. • American Heritage Dictionaries, Central America (http://www.bartleby.com/61/8/C0200800.html). • WordNet Princeton University: Central America (http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=central+ america). • "Central America". The Columbia Gazetteer of the World Online (http://www.columbiagazetteer.org/). 2006. New York: Columbia University Press.

External links
• Central America Online Discussion Forum and Community (http://central-america-forum.com/) • Photos of Central America (http://www.flickr.com/photos/billbevan/sets/72157601786821717/) • LANIC Central America country pages (http://lanic.utexas.edu/country/central/)

Article Sources and Contributors

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Article Sources and Contributors
Central America  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?oldid=333081887  Contributors: *drew, 23prootie, A i s h2000, A the 0th, A-giau, Abhijitsathe, Accurizer, Addicted04, Af648, Agrofe, Ahoerstemeier, Alansohn, Alex2fresh, AlexCovarrubias, Altenmann, Anclation, Andrwsc, Anonymous101, Antandrus, Antiuser, AntonioMartin, Aris Katsaris, ArnoLagrange, Atlantan, Baldwin040, Banana Guy 2, Barneca, Barnegat, Bchociej, Bdamokos, Bhuck, Bidabadi, Bkell, Bobo192, Bomac, Bootdog, Bosonic dressing, Bpplowman, Brion VIBBER, Briséis, Buaidh, CJLL Wright, Caek, Caltas, CambridgeBayWeather, Can't sleep, clown will eat me, Capricorn42, Cassandra 73, Catgut, ChaChaFut, Choster, Cinnamon42, Cocoliras, Coemgenus, Cogito ergo sumo, Common Man, Conversion script, Cool3, Corticopia, Cyktsui, DVD R W, DaronDierkes, Dash504, Davidski, Dbachmann, DeadEyeArrow, Deckiller, Dendrotech, Deor, DerHexer, Dina, Doug Bell, Download, Dppowell, Dr.Kerr, DrunkenSmurf, Ducksauce101, Duffman, Dumelow, Dungodung, E Pluribus Anthony, Eb.hoop, Ed Poor, Ed8r, EdJohnston, Edivorce, Edward321, El Rojo, Eleassar, Emilio Juanatey, Enzo Aquarius, Epbr123, Erolos, Esemono, Esides, Esteban.barahona, Everyking, Ex post factoid, Excirial, Feeeshboy, Feydey, Fredrik, Frymaster, Fssca, Gadfium, Gail, GaryEditor, Geomatters, Gib l, Gilliam, Gittinsj, GraYoshi2x, GraemeL, Guanaco, Gurubrahma, Gwernol, H005, Hadynkihm, Hairy Dude, Hajor, Harlan wilkerson, Headachefrompgc, Hetar, Highpriority, Hjr, Honza Záruba, House1090, I'mDown, I20.272.440, Iamalegend, ImperatorExercitus, Infrogmation, Ishikawa Minoru, IvanKnight69, J'88, J. Daily, JOSE LEITON, JSpung, JaGa, Jablue, Jake Wartenberg, Janus303, Jchild, Jcmenal, Jemattam, Jerahad, Jerem43, Jespinos, Jjhcap99, JoanneB, Joeinwap, Jogarriot, Joseph Solis in Australia, Jtkiefer, JuJube, Judge Nutmeg, Julian Mendez, Juliancolton, JustinLong, KNHaw, Kaare, Kdogg45, Kelovy, Kesla, Kevin Taylor, Kintetsubuffalo, Kman543210, Knowledgeum, Knutux, Kozuch, Kukini, Kungfuadam, Kyaa the Catlord, LaNicoya, Laramitchell, Law, Lightmouse, Ligulem, Lucyin, Lumbercutter, Maddie!, Mark K. Jensen, Markussep, Marquez, Marxolang, Maw, Mayumashu, Melissa walls, Mermaid from the Baltic Sea, Metanoid, Mifter, Miquonranger03, Mjb1981, Mkweise, MoRsE, Moverton, Ms2ger, Music14, Mvargasm, NCC1291, Naddy, Namangwari, Nationalgeo, Ncdoyle, Nederlaander, Neutrality, Nick C, Non-dropframe, Notmyrealname, Nstep, Ocatecir, Oda Mari, Ohnoitsjamie, Oknazevad, Olivier, Oreo Priest, Padre31, Patrick-br, Pauli133, Paxsimius, Pcstico, Petufo, Pgbk87, PhilKnight, Philip Trueman, Pigman, Pippu d'Angelo, Postdlf, Postlebury, Promethean, Puppyluver535, Quackor, Quizimodo, Qutezuce, RS1900, RaCha'ar, Randyc, Rbraunwa, Recognizance, RedHillian, Repetition, Retired username, Riana, Rjwilmsi, Rkr1991, Robert Skyhawk, Robomaeyhem, RockMFR, Roeddi, Romanm, Romanskolduns, Ronald26, Roybb95, Rpallais, SEWilco, SJP, STEVENELMER, Samuelsen, Sannse, Sapfan, Shushruth, Siebrand, SimonP, Skanking, Skillzthunderbird, Sl, Slawojarek, Sojothergeat, SonCR, Soulpatch, Spacepotato, SqueakBox, Srice13, Stevvers, Supaman89, Suruena, SweetCarmen, SyntaxError55, TUF-KAT, TV Genius, TVGH, Taamu, Tabletop, TakuyaMurata, Tatpong, The Thing That Should Not Be, The red power12, The tooth, Theredhouse7, Tim Starling, Tom Radulovich, Trevor MacInnis, Trotterjt, Uannis, Unschool, UtherSRG, Vary, Veinor, Verdy p, Versageek, Virus326, Voyevoda, Wayward, Wildthing61476, Wing Nut, Wirbelwind, Xayn, XcepticZP, Yaddar, Yamamoto Ichiro, Yansa, Yath, Youssefsan, Z.E.R.O., Zelmerszoetrop, 612 anonymous edits

Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors
File:Central America (orthographic projection).svg  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Central_America_(orthographic_projection).svg  License: GNU Free Documentation License  Contributors: Heraldry, KJG2007, Keepscases, Shooke, TownDown Image:Tectonic plates Caribbean.png  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Tectonic_plates_Caribbean.png  License: Public Domain  Contributors: Arbus Driver, Maksim, Smiley File:Flag of Belize.svg  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Flag_of_Belize.svg  License: Public Domain  Contributors: Caleb Moore File:Flag of Costa Rica.svg  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Flag_of_Costa_Rica.svg  License: Public Domain  Contributors: User:Gabbe, User:SKopp File:Flag of El Salvador.svg  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Flag_of_El_Salvador.svg  License: Public Domain  Contributors: Dahn, Darwinek, Discospinster, F l a n k e r, Jack Phoenix, Jarekt, Klemen Kocjancic, Kookaburra, Mattes, Neq00, Nightstallion, Ninane, Reisio, ThomasPusch, Vzb83, Wikiborg, Ysangkok, 16 anonymous edits File:Flag of Guatemala.svg  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Flag_of_Guatemala.svg  License: Public Domain  Contributors: User:Denelson83, User:Vzb83 File:Flag of Honduras.svg  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Flag_of_Honduras.svg  License: Public Domain  Contributors: D1990, Denelson83, Feydey, Fred J, Homo lupus, Klemen Kocjancic, Mattes, Matthew hk, Neq00, Oak27, Pumbaa80, Rocket000, RubiksMaster110, SKopp, ThomasPusch, Tocino, Vzb83, Yuval Madar, Zscout370, 10 anonymous edits File:Flag of Nicaragua.svg  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Flag_of_Nicaragua.svg  License: Public Domain  Contributors: Dahn, Davepape, GeorgHH, Giggy, Infrogmation, Klemen Kocjancic, Kookaburra, Lokal Profil, Mattes, Muro de Aguas, Nightstallion, Rfc1394, Sarahisamajorjew, ThomasPusch, Vzb83, Zscout370, 10 anonymous edits File:Flag of Panama.svg  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Flag_of_Panama.svg  License: Public Domain  Contributors: -xfi-, Addicted04, Fadi the philologer, Klemen Kocjancic, Liftarn, Mattes, Nightstallion, Ninane, Pumbaa80, Reisio, Rfc1394, Thomas81, ThomasPusch, Zscout370, 17 anonymous edits Image:557px-CentralAmerica1860Map a.jpg  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:557px-CentralAmerica1860Map_a.jpg  License: Public Domain  Contributors: Non-original uploader who cropped the larger image already at en:Wikipedia described above was SqueakBox at en.wikipedia Image:SICA ZP.svg  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:SICA_ZP.svg  License: unknown  Contributors: XcepticZP File:Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Flag_of_the_Dominican_Republic.svg  License: Public Domain  Contributors: Avala, Denelson83, Er Komandante, Frispar, Herbythyme, Homo lupus, Klemen Kocjancic, Mattes, Mschel, Neq00, Nightstallion, Rastrojo, Reisio, ThomasPusch, 43 anonymous edits Image:Sica.png  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Sica.png  License: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.5  Contributors: Bardales

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