Is Central America Considered North America?

Central America is the southernmost portion of the North American continent.

Where Is Central America?

Although Central America is considered to be its own region, geographically it is the southmost part of North America. Central America is an isthmian part that connects North America to South America and is generally considered to be part of North America. It is made up of seven nations: Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. Occupying an area of about 523,770 square km (202,230 square miles), Central America is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, Colombia, and Mexico. It is part of the biodiversity hotspot of Mesoamerica that stretches from central Panama to northern Guatemala. Central America experiences a lot of seismic activities, because of the presence of the volcanic arc and numerous active geologic faults.

History Of Central America

During the pre-Colombian period, this continent was inhabited by the Isthmo-Colombians to the east and south and the Mesoamericans to the west and north. After Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas, the Spanish started colonizing this region. The Viceroyalty of Spain governed a large territory within this continent, excluding the land which would later become Panama and Belize from 1609 to 1821. After the colonies New Spain gained their independence from Spain, some of the provinces within this territory were annexed to the Mexican empire, but they later seceded from Mexico to create the Federal Republic of Central America. The seven provinces then became independent starting with Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua in 1838 followed by El Salvador and Panama. The last state to gain its independence was Belize in 1981. Even today, locals refer to their counties as provinces of the State of Central America.

Population Of Central America

Central America had an estimated population of 51,803,700 as of January 2021 with a density of about 200 people per square mile. The most populated nation in Central America is Guatemala with a population of 18,084,727 followed by Honduras and then Nicaragua. The least populous country in this region is Belize which occupies an area of approximately 22,965 square km (8,867 square miles). Over 401,313 people inhabited Belize as of 2021. The majority of the people living in Central America are Mestizo, Mayans, and white. The minority groups include Garifuna and Xinca.

Geology Of Central America

Central America is active geologically with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions regularly occurring, while tsunamis occur occasionally. A considerable part of this continent lies on the Caribbean plate which converges with the North American, Nazca, and Cocos plates to create the Middle America Trench. The Trench is located between 37 to 99 miles off the Pacific coast. The majority of the earthquakes are caused by seismic activities at the American Trench.

Mesoamerican Biodiversity Hotspot

Central America is considered a Mesoamerican Biodiversity Hotspot and has over 7% of earth’s biodiversity. The Pacific Flyway is a primary south-north pathway for the migratory birds which extends from Patagonia to Alaska. Migratory birds travel through this pathway annually during the fall and the spring in search of food. Since the land has a funnel-like shape, these birds can be seen on the continent in autumn and spring. Given that it serves as the bridge between the South and North America, Central America has numerous species from Neotropic and Nearctic ecozones. The southern nations have more biodiversity than the northern countries, including Belize and Guatemala.

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