Where is Central America?
Although Central America is considered to be its own region, geographically it is the south-most part of North America. Central America is an isthmian part which connects North America to South America and is considered by many to be a part of North America. It is made up of seven nations which include Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, El-Salvador, and Costa Rica. Occupying an area of about 202, 230 square miles, Central America is surrounded by Pacific Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Colombia, and Mexico. It is part of the biodiversity hotspot of Mesoamerica which stretches from central Panama to northern Guatemala. Central America experiences a lot of systemic 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 Mesoamerica to the west and north. After Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas, the Spanish started colonizing this region. The Viceroyalty from Spain governed a large territory within this continent which excluded the land which would later become Panama and Belize from 1609 to 1821. After 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 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 the locals refer to their counties as provinces of the State of Central America.
Population of Central America
Central America had an estimated population of 47,448,333 as at 2016 with a density of about 210 people per square mile. The most populated nation in Central America is Guatemala with a population of 16,582,469 followed by Honduras and then El-Salvador. The least populous country in this region is Belize which occupies an area of approximately 8867 square miles. Over 366,954 people inhabited Belize as at 2016. The majority of the people living in Central America are Mestizo, Mayans, and white population. 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 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. Majority of the earthquakes are caused by the systemic 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 in the continent in autumn and spring. Since 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 all the northern countries including Belize and Guatemala.