Central America is the region of North America located between the southern border of Mexico and the northwest border of Colombia, in South America. Some geographers classify Central America as a large isthmus, and in this geographic sense it sometimes includes the portion of Mexico east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, namely the Mexican states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo. However, Central America is much more commonly understood to correspond with the nations between Mexico and Colombia.
The geology of Central America is active, with volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occurring from time to time. In 1931 and 1972 earthquakes devastated Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Fertile soils from weathered volcanic lavas have made it possible to sustain dense populations in the agriculturally productive highland areas.
In this most common definition, Central America consists of the countries of:
Central America thus has an area of about 540,000 km² (208,500 square miles), and a width between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea ranging from about 560 km to about 50 km (350 miles to about 30 miles).
Additionally, there was a nation of Central America in the early 19th century, consisting of the present day nations of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica (and a portion of the modern Mexican state of Chiapas). This was sometimes known as the United Provinces of Central America or the United States of Central America.
The related term Mesoamerica (occasionally also called "Middle America") is used in English mostly restricted to referring to the Pre-Columbian Native American cultures of this region, which extended north into central Mexico.
Last updated: 10-11-2005 13:23:37