Central America

Central America
Central America (orthographic projection).svg
Area523,780 km2 (202,230 sq mi)[1]
Population52,176,283 (2022)[1]
Population density99.6/km2 (258.0/sq mi) (2022)
GDP (PPP)$370.52 billion (2013)
GDP (nominal)$203.73 billion (exchange rate) (2013)
GDP per capita$4,783 (exchange rate) (2013)
$8,698 (PPP) (2013)
DemonymCentral American
DependenciesFlag of San Andrés y Providencia.svg Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina (belonging to  Colombia)
Time zonesUTC -6:00 to UTC -5:00
Largest cities
UN M49 code013 – Central America
419Latin America

Central America (Spanish: América Central [aˈmeɾika senˈtɾal] (listen) or Centroamérica [sentɾoaˈmeɾika] (listen)) is a subcontinent of North America.[2] Its boundaries are defined as bordering Mexico to the north, Colombia to the south, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Central America consists of seven countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Within Central America is the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot, which extends from northern Guatemala to central Panama. Due to the presence of several active geologic faults and the Central America Volcanic Arc, there is a high amount of seismic activity in the region, such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, which has resulted in death, injury and property damage.

In the Pre-Columbian era, Central America was inhabited by the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica to the north and west and the Isthmo-Colombian peoples to the south and east. Following the Spanish expedition of Christopher Columbus' voyages to the Americas, Spain began to colonize the Americas. From 1609 to 1821, the majority of Central American territories (except for what would become Belize and Panama, and including the modern Mexican state of Chiapas) were governed by the viceroyalty of New Spain from Mexico City as the Captaincy General of Guatemala. On 24 August 1821, Spanish Viceroy Juan de O'Donojú signed the Treaty of Córdoba, which established New Spain's independence from Spain.[3] On 15 September 1821, the Act of Independence of Central America was enacted to announce Central America's separation from the Spanish Empire and provide for the establishment of a new Central American state. Some of New Spain's provinces in the Central American region (i.e. what would become Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica) were annexed to the First Mexican Empire; however, in 1823 they seceded from Mexico to form the Federal Republic of Central America until 1838.[4]

In 1838, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala became the first of Central America's seven states to become independent autonomous countries, followed by El Salvador in 1841, Panama in 1903 and Belize in 1981[5] Despite the dissolution of the Federal Republic of Central America, countries like El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua continue to maintain a Central American identity. Spanish speaking countries officially refer to both North and South America, as a single supercontinent, or simply a continent, called “América“, which is split in three regions or subcontinents called North, Central and South America, this is why many Central American countries include “América Central” in their countries official Coat of Arms and full name. Belizeans are usually identified as culturally West Indian rather than Central American, while Panamanians identify themselves more broadly with their South American neighbours.[6]

Different definitions

Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Belize are historically the seven nations in Central America politically, geographically and culturally.

"Central America" may mean different things to various people, based upon different contexts:

  • The United Nations geoscheme for the Americas defines Central America as all states of mainland North America south of the United States, hence grouping Mexico as part of Central America.[7]
  • Middle America is usually thought to comprise Mexico to the north of the 7 states of Central America as well as Colombia and Venezuela to the south. Usually, the whole of the Caribbean to the northeast, and sometimes the Guyanas, are also included.
    According to one source, the term "Central America" was used as a synonym for "Middle America" at least as recently as 1962.[8]
  • In Ibero-America (Spanish and Portuguese speaking American countries), the Americas is considered a single continent (America), and Central America is considered a subregion of the continent comprising the seven countries south of Mexico and north of Colombia.
  • For the people living in the five countries, formerly part of the Federal Republic of Central America there is a distinction between the Spanish language terms "América Central" and "Centroamérica". While both can be translated into English as "Central America", "América Central" is generally used to refer to the geographical area of the seven countries between Mexico and Colombia, while "Centroamérica" is used when referring to the former members of the Federation emphasizing the shared culture and history of the region.
  • In Portuguese as a rule and occasionally in Spanish and other languages, the entirety of the Antilles is often included in the definition of Central America. Indeed, the Dominican Republic is a full member of the Central American Integration System.


Central America, 1862
Painting of the First Independence Movement celebration in San Salvador 1811
Painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence of Central America, Guatemala, 1821

Central America was formed more than 3 million years ago, as part of the Isthmus of Panama, when its portion of land connected each side of water.

In the Pre-Columbian era, the northern areas of Central America were inhabited by the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica. Most notable among these were the Mayans, who had built numerous cities throughout the region, and the Aztecs, who had created a vast empire. The pre-Columbian cultures of eastern El Salvador, eastern Honduras, Caribbean Nicaragua, most of Costa Rica and Panama were predominantly speakers of the Chibchan languages at the time of European contact and are considered by some[9] culturally different and grouped in the Isthmo-Colombian Area.

Following the Spanish expedition of Christopher Columbus's voyages to the Americas, the Spanish sent many expeditions to the region, and they began their conquest of Maya territory in 1523. Soon after the conquest of the Aztec Empire, Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado commenced the conquest of northern Central America for the Spanish Empire. Beginning with his arrival in Soconusco in 1523, Alvarado's forces systematically conquered and subjugated most of the major Maya kingdoms, including the K'iche', Tz'utujil, Pipil, and the Kaqchikel. By 1528, the conquest of Guatemala was nearly complete, with only the Petén Basin remaining outside the Spanish sphere of influence. The last independent Maya kingdoms – the Kowoj and the Itza people – were finally defeated in 1697, as part of the Spanish conquest of Petén.[10]

In 1538, Spain established the Real Audiencia of Panama, which had jurisdiction over all land from the Strait of Magellan to the Gulf of Fonseca. This entity was dissolved in 1543, and most of the territory within Central America then fell under the jurisdiction of the Audiencia Real de Guatemala. This area included the current territories of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Mexican state of Chiapas, but excluded the lands that would become Belize and Panama. The president of the Audiencia, which had its seat in Antigua Guatemala, was the governor of the entire area. In 1609 the area became a captaincy general and the governor was also granted the title of captain general. The Captaincy General of Guatemala encompassed most of Central America, with the exception of present-day Belize and Panama.

The Captaincy General of Guatemala lasted for more than two centuries, but began to fray after a rebellion in 1811 which began in the Intendancy of San Salvador. The Captaincy General formally ended on 15 September 1821, with the signing of the Act of Independence of Central America. Mexican independence was achieved at virtually the same time with the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba and the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire, and the entire region was finally independent from Spanish authority by 28 September 1821.

Historic flags of Central American Unions

Historic Coat of Arms of Central American Unions

General Manuel José Arce; decorated Salvadoran General and president of the Federal Republic of Central America from 1825 to 1829
The five rowed volcanos in the coat of arms of Central America was inspired by the Cordillera de Apaneca volcanic range of El Salvador, visible from the city of Sonsonate, which became the capital of the Federal Republic of Central America in 1834.
Monument honoring the emblem of the United Provinces of Central America

From its independence from Spain in 1821 until 1823, the former Captaincy General remained intact as part of the short-lived First Mexican Empire. When the Emperor of Mexico abdicated on 19 March 1823, Central America again became independent. On 1 July 1823, the Congress of Central America peacefully seceded from Mexico and declared absolute independence from all foreign nations, and the region formed the Federal Republic of Central America.

The Federal Republic of Central America was a representative democracy with its capital at Guatemala City. This union consisted of the provinces of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Los Altos, Mosquito Coast, and Nicaragua. The lowlands of southwest Chiapas, including Soconusco, initially belonged to the Republic until 1824, when Mexico annexed most of Chiapas and began its claims to Soconusco. The Republic lasted from 1823 to 1838, when it disintegrated as a result of civil wars.

The territory that now makes up Belize was heavily contested in a dispute that continued for decades after Guatemala achieved independence (see History of Belize (1506–1862). Spain, and later Guatemala, considered this land a Guatemalan department. In 1862, Britain formally declared it a British colony and named it British Honduras. It became independent as Belize in 1981.[5]

Panama, situated in the southernmost part of Central America on the Isthmus of Panama, has for most of its history been culturally and politically linked to South America. Panama was part of the Province of Tierra Firme from 1510 until 1538 when it came under the jurisdiction of the newly formed Audiencia Real de Panama. Beginning in 1543, Panama was administered as part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, along with all other Spanish possessions in South America. Panama remained as part of the Viceroyalty of Peru until 1739, when it was transferred to the Viceroyalty of New Granada, the capital of which was located at Santa Fé de Bogotá. Panama remained as part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada until the disestablishment of that viceroyalty in 1819. A series of military and political struggles took place from that time until 1822, the result of which produced the republic of Gran Colombia. After the dissolution of Gran Colombia in 1830, Panama became part of a successor state, the Republic of New Granada. From 1855 until 1886, Panama existed as Panama State, first within the Republic of New Granada, then within the Granadine Confederation, and finally within the United States of Colombia. The United States of Colombia was replaced by the Republic of Colombia in 1886. As part of the Republic of Colombia, Panama State was abolished and it became the Isthmus Department. Despite the many political reorganizations, Colombia was still deeply plagued by conflict, which eventually led to the secession of Panama on 3 November 1903. Only after that time did some begin to regard Panama as a North or Central American entity.

By the 1930s the United Fruit Company owned 14,000 square kilometres (3.5 million acres) of land in Central America and the Caribbean and was the single largest land owner in Guatemala. Such holdings gave it great power over the governments of small countries. That was one of the factors that led to the coining of the phrase banana republic.[11]

After more than two hundred years of social unrest, violent conflict, and revolution, Central America today remains in a period of political transformation. Poverty, social injustice, and violence are still widespread.[12] Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere (only Haiti is poorer).[13]

Flags of modern Central America

Coat of Arms of modern Central America


The seven countries of Central America and their capitals

Central America is a part of North America consisting of a tapering isthmus running from the southern extent of Mexico to the northwestern portion of South America. Central America has the Gulf of Mexico, a body of water within the Atlantic Ocean, to the north; the Caribbean Sea, also part of the Atlantic Ocean, to the northeast; and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Some physiographists define the Isthmus of Tehuantepec as the northern geographic border of Central America,[14] while others use the northwestern borders of Belize and Guatemala. From there, the Central American land mass extends southeastward to the Atrato River, where it connects to the Pacific Lowlands in northwestern South America.

Of the many mountain ranges within Central America, the longest are the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, the Cordillera Isabelia and the Cordillera de Talamanca. At 4,220 meters (13,850 ft), Volcán Tajumulco is the highest peak in Central America. Other high points of Central America are as listed in the table below:

High points in Central America
CountryNameElevation (meters)Range
 BelizeDoyle's Delight1,124Cockscomb Range
 Costa RicaCerro Chirripó3,820Cordillera de Talamanca
 El SalvadorCerro El Pital2,730Sierra Madre de Chiapas
 GuatemalaVolcán Tajumulco4,220Sierra Madre de Chiapas
 HondurasCerro Las Minas2,780Cordillera de Celaque
 NicaraguaMogotón2,107Cordillera Isabelia
 PanamaVolcán Barú3,474Cordillera de Talamanca
Central America geography

Between the mountain ranges lie fertile valleys that are suitable for the raising of livestock and for the production of coffee, tobacco, beans and other crops. Most of the population of Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala lives in valleys.[15]

Trade winds have a significant effect upon the climate of Central America. Temperatures in Central America are highest just prior to the summer wet season, and are lowest during the winter dry season, when trade winds contribute to a cooler climate. The highest temperatures occur in April, due to higher levels of sunlight, lower cloud cover and a decrease in trade winds.[16]


Central American forests

El Chorreron in El Salvador

Central America is part of the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot, boasting 7% of the world's biodiversity.[17] The Pacific Flyway is a major north–south flyway for migratory birds in the Americas, extending from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Due to the funnel-like shape of its land mass, migratory birds can be seen in very high concentrations in Central America, especially in the spring and autumn. As a bridge between North America and South America, Central America has many species from the Nearctic and the Neotropical realms. 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 the least biodiversity.[17] The table below shows recent statistics:

Biodiversity in Central America (number of different species of terrestrial vertebrate animals and vascular plants)
Total terrestrial
vertebrate species
Vascular plants
Costa Rica[19]18383823225815111211913630
El Salvador[20]3043413710670729113618

Over 300 species of the region's flora and fauna are threatened, 107 of which are classified as critically endangered. The underlying problems are deforestation, which is estimated by FAO at 1.2% per year in Central America and Mexico combined, fragmentation of rainforests and the fact that 80% of the vegetation in Central America has already been converted to agriculture.[25]

Efforts to protect fauna and flora in the region are made by creating ecoregions and nature reserves. 36% of Belize's land territory falls under some form of official protected status, giving Belize one of the most extensive systems of terrestrial protected areas in the Americas. In addition, 13% of Belize's marine territory are also protected.[26] A large coral reef extends from Mexico to Honduras: the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. The Belize Barrier Reef is part of this. The Belize Barrier Reef is home to a large diversity of plants and animals, and is one of the most diverse ecosystems of the world. It is home to 70 hard coral species, 36 soft coral species, 500 species of fish and hundreds of invertebrate species. So far only about 10% of the species in the Belize barrier reef have been discovered.[27]


National flowers of Central America

National trees of Central America

One of the hanging bridges of the skywalk at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in Monteverde, Costa Rica disappearing into the clouds

From 2001 to 2010, 5,376 square kilometers (2,076 sq mi) of forest were lost in the region. In 2010 Belize had 63% of remaining forest cover, Costa Rica 46%, Panama 45%, Honduras 41%, Guatemala 37%, Nicaragua 29%, and El Salvador 21%. Most of the loss occurred in the moist forest biome, with 12,201 square kilometers (4,711 sq mi). Woody vegetation loss was partially set off by a gain in the coniferous forest biome with 4,730 square kilometers (1,830 sq mi), and a gain in the dry forest biome at 2,054 square kilometers (793 sq mi). Mangroves and deserts contributed only 1% to the loss in forest vegetation. The bulk of the deforestation was located at the Caribbean slopes of Nicaragua with a loss of 8,574 square kilometers (3,310 sq mi) of forest in the period from 2001 to 2010. The most significant regrowth of 3,050 square kilometers (1,180 sq mi) of forest was seen in the coniferous woody vegetation of Honduras.[28]

The Central American pine-oak forests ecoregion, in the tropical and subtropical coniferous forests biome, is found in Central America and southern Mexico. The Central American pine-oak forests occupy an area of 111,400 square kilometers (43,000 sq mi),[29] extending along the mountainous spine of Central America, extending from the Sierra Madre de Chiapas in Mexico's Chiapas state through the highlands of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to central Nicaragua. The pine-oak forests lie between 600–1,800 metres (2,000–5,900 ft) elevation,[29] and are surrounded at lower elevations by tropical moist forests and tropical dry forests. Higher elevations above 1,800 metres (5,900 ft) are usually covered with Central American montane forests. The Central American pine-oak forests are composed of many species characteristic of temperate North America including oak, pine, fir, and cypress.

Laurel forest is the most common type of Central American temperate evergreen cloud forest, found in almost all Central American countries, normally more than 1,000 meters (3,300 ft) above sea level. Tree species include evergreen oaks, members of the laurel family, and species of Weinmannia, Drimys, and Magnolia.[30] The cloud forest of Sierra de las Minas, Guatemala, is the largest in Central America. In some areas of southeastern Honduras there are cloud forests, the largest located near the border with Nicaragua. In Nicaragua, cloud forests are situated near the border with Honduras, but many were cleared to grow coffee. There are still some temperate evergreen hills in the north. The only cloud forest in the Pacific coastal zone of Central America is on the Mombacho volcano in Nicaragua. In Costa Rica, there are laurel forests in the Cordillera de Tilarán and Volcán Arenal, called Monteverde, also in the Cordillera de Talamanca.

The Central American montane forests are an ecoregion of the tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests biome, as defined by the World Wildlife Fund.[31] These forests are of the moist deciduous and the semi-evergreen seasonal subtype of tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests and receive high overall rainfall with a warm summer wet season and a cooler winter dry season. Central American montane forests consist of forest patches located at altitudes ranging from 1,800–4,000 metres (5,900–13,100 ft), on the summits and slopes of the highest mountains in Central America ranging from Southern Mexico, through Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, to northern Nicaragua. The entire ecoregion covers an area of 13,200 square kilometers (5,100 sq mi) and has a temperate climate with relatively high precipitation levels.[31]


Legendary National Birds of Central America

Ecoregions are not only established to protect the forests themselves but also because they are habitats for an incomparably rich and often endemic fauna. Almost half of the bird population of the Talamancan montane forests in Costa Rica and Panama are endemic to this region. Several birds are listed as threatened, most notably the resplendent quetzal (Pharomacrus mocinno), three-wattled bellbird (Procnias tricarunculata), bare-necked umbrellabird (Cephalopterus glabricollis), and black guan (Chamaepetes unicolor). Many of the amphibians are endemic and depend on the existence of forest. The golden toad that once inhabited a small region in the Monteverde Reserve, which is part of the Talamancan montane forests, has not been seen alive since 1989 and is listed as extinct by IUCN. The exact causes for its extinction are unknown. Global warming may have played a role, because the development of that frog is typical for this area may have been compromised. Seven small mammals are endemic to the Costa Rica-Chiriqui highlands within the Talamancan montane forest region. Jaguars, cougars, spider monkeys, as well as tapirs, and anteaters live in the woods of Central America.[30] The Central American red brocket is a brocket deer found in Central America's tropical forest.


Central America and the Caribbean Plate

Central America is geologically very active, with volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occurring frequently, and tsunamis occurring occasionally. Many thousands of people have died as a result of these natural disasters.

Most of Central America rests atop the Caribbean Plate. This tectonic plate converges with the Cocos, Nazca, and North American plates to form the Middle America Trench, a major subduction zone. The Middle America Trench is situated some 60–160 kilometers (37–99 mi) off the Pacific coast of Central America and runs roughly parallel to it. Many large earthquakes have occurred as a result of seismic activity at the Middle America Trench.[32] For example, subduction of the Cocos Plate beneath the North American Plate at the Middle America Trench is believed to have caused the 1985 Mexico City earthquake that killed as many as 40,000 people. Seismic activity at the Middle America Trench is also responsible for earthquakes in 1902, 1942, 1956, 1982, 1992, January 2001, February 2001, 2007, 2012, 2014, and many other earthquakes throughout Central America.

The Middle America Trench is not the only source of seismic activity in Central America. The Motagua Fault is an onshore continuation of the Cayman Trough which forms part of the tectonic boundary between the North American Plate and the Caribbean Plate. This transform fault cuts right across Guatemala and then continues offshore until it merges with the Middle America Trench along the Pacific coast of Mexico, near Acapulco. Seismic activity at the Motagua Fault has been responsible for earthquakes in 1717, 1773, 1902, 1976, 1980, and 2009.

Another onshore continuation of the Cayman Trough is the Chixoy-Polochic Fault, which runs parallel to, and roughly 80 kilometers (50 mi) to the north, of the Motagua Fault. Though less active than the Motagua Fault, seismic activity at the Chixoy-Polochic Fault is still thought to be capable of producing very large earthquakes, such as the 1816 earthquake of Guatemala.[33]

Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, was devastated by earthquakes in 1931 and 1972.

Volcanic eruptions are also common in Central America. In 1968 the Arenal Volcano, in Costa Rica, erupted killing 87 people as the 3 villages of Tabacon, Pueblo Nuevo and San Luis were buried under pyroclastic flows and debris. Fertile soils from weathered volcanic lava have made it possible to sustain dense populations in the agriculturally productive highland areas.


Capital cities of Central America

The population of Central America is estimated at 50,956,791 as of 2021.[34][35] With an area of 523,780 square kilometers (202,230 sq mi),[36] it has a population density of 97.3 per square kilometre (252 per square mile). Human Development Index values are from the estimates for 2017.[37]

Countries of Central America
(2021 est.)[34][35]

(per km2)
Human Development Index
Belize22,966400,03117BelmopanEnglish0.708 High
Costa Rica51,1005,153,957101San JoséSpanish0.794 High
El Salvador21,0416,314,167300San SalvadorSpanish0.674 Medium
Guatemala108,88917,608,483162Guatemala CitySpanish0.650 Medium
Honduras112,09010,278,34592TegucigalpaSpanish0.617 Medium
Nicaragua130,3706,850,54053ManaguaSpanish0.658 Medium
Panama75,4204,351,26758Panama CitySpanish0.789 High
Largest metropolitan areas in Central America
CityCountryPopulationCensus Year% of National
Guatemala CityGuatemala5,700,000201026%
San SalvadorEl Salvador2,415,217200939%
San Pedro SulaHonduras1,600,000201021%+4
Panama CityPanama1,400,000201037%
San JoséCosta Rica1,275,000201330%


Linguistic variations of classic Central American Spanish.

The official language majority in all Central American countries is Spanish, except in Belize, where the official language is English. Mayan languages constitute a language family consisting of about 26 related languages. Guatemala formally recognized 21 of these in 1996. Xinca, Miskito, and Garifuna are also present in Central America.

Languages in Central America (2010)
RankCountriesPopulation% Spanish% Mayan languages% English% Xinca% Garifuna
3El Salvador6,108,00099.0%1.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
5Costa Rica4,726,00097.2%1.8%1.0%0.0%0.0%

Ethnic groups

Central America map of indigenous people before European contact
Central American women

This region of the continent is very rich in terms of ethnic groups. The majority of the population is mestizo, with sizable Mayan and African descendent populations present, including Xinca and Garifuna minorities. The immigration of Arabs, Jews, Chinese, Europeans and others brought additional groups to the area.

Ethnic groups in Central America (2010)
CountryPopulation1AmerindianWhiteMestizo/MixedBlack% Other
Costa Rica4,301,7124.0%13.8%65.8%7.2%9.0%
El Salvador6,340,8891.0%12.0%86.0%0.0%1.0%

Religious groups

Cathedrals of Central America

The predominant religion in Central America is Christianity (95.6%).[39] Beginning with the Spanish colonization of Central America in the 16th century, Roman Catholicism became the most popular religion in the region until the first half of the 20th century. Since the 1960s, there has been an increase in other Christian groups, particularly Protestantism, as well as other religious organizations, and individuals identifying themselves as having no religion.[40]

CountryRoman Catholicism (2020)Protestantism (2020)Other Christian (2020)Non Affiliated (2020)Other (2020)
Costa Rica72.5%19.5%2.4%4.5%1.1%
El Salvador55.8%35.3%3.6%5.0%0.3%

Source: Jason Mandrik, Operation World Statistics (2020).

  • Protestantism in Central America also include Independent Christian, most of total Protestants in this region (+80%) are Evangelicals, the rest follow traditional beliefs.
  • Other Christian include Other Traditional Churches (Orthodox, Episcopalian, etc.) and contemporary churches (Mormons, Adventists, Scientology, etc.), also include Non-denominational Christian who are the most numerous group, specially in Guatemala.


Central American art

National dishes of Central America



Leaders of Central America


Sistema de
Integración Centroamericana

Coat of arms
Motto: "Peace, Development, Liberty and Democracy"
Anthem: La Granadera
  • Belize
  • Costa Rica
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Dominican Republic
• Total
523,780[1] km2 (202,230 sq mi)
• 2022 estimate
• Density
99.6/km2 (258.0/sq mi)

Central America is currently undergoing 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, which created the ODECA, the Organization of Central American States. However, the unity of the ODECA was limited by conflicts between several member states.

In 1991, the integration agenda was further advanced by the creation of the Central American Integration System (Sistema para la Integración Centroamericana, or SICA). SICA provides a clear legal basis to avoid disputes between the member states. SICA membership includes the 7 nations of Central America plus the Dominican Republic, a state that is traditionally considered part of the Caribbean.

On 6 December 2008, SICA announced an agreement to pursue a common currency and common passport for the member nations.[41] 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.

On 22 July 2011, President Mauricio Funes of El Salvador became the first president pro tempore to SICA. El Salvador also became the headquarters of SICA with the inauguration of a new building.[42]

Foreign relations

Until recently, all Central American countries maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan instead of China. President Óscar Arias of Costa Rica, however, established diplomatic relations with China in 2007, severing formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.[43] After breaking off relations with the Republic of China in 2017, Panama established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. In August 2018, El Salvador also severed ties with Taiwan to formally start recognizing the People's Republic of China as sole China, a move many considered lacked transparency due to its abruptness and reports of the Chinese government's desires to invest in the department of La Union while also promising to fund the ruling party's reelection campaign.[44] The President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established ties with China. On 9 December 2021, Nicaragua resumed relations with the PRC.[45]


The Central American Parliament (aka PARLACEN) is a political and parliamentary body of SICA. The parliament started around 1980, and its primary goal was to resolve conflicts in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Although the group was disbanded in 1986, ideas of unity of Central Americans still remained, so a treaty was signed in 1987 to create the Central American Parliament and other political bodies. Its original members were Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras. The parliament is the political organ of Central America, and is part of SICA. New members have since then joined including Panama and the Dominican Republic.

Costa Rica is not a member State of the Central American Parliament and its adhesion remains as a very unpopular topic at all levels of the Costa Rican society due to existing strong political criticism towards the regional parliament, since it is regarded by Costa Ricans as a menace to democratic accountability and effectiveness of integration efforts. Excessively high salaries for its members, legal immunity of jurisdiction from any member State, corruption, lack of a binding nature and effectiveness of the regional parliament's decisions, high operative costs and immediate membership of Central American Presidents once they leave their office and presidential terms, are the most common reasons invoked by Costa Ricans against the Central American Parliament.


Federal Republic of Central America, 4 Escudos (1835). Struck in the San Jose, Costa Rica mint (697 were minted)
Emblem of CAFTA
Secretariat of Central American Economic Integration

Signed in 2004, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) is an agreement between the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. The treaty is aimed at promoting free trade among its members.

Guatemala has the largest economy in the region.[46][47] Its main exports are coffee, sugar, bananas, petroleum, clothing, and cardamom. Of its 10.29 billion dollar annual exports,[48] 40.2% go to the United States, 11.1% to neighboring El Salvador, 8% to Honduras, 5.5% to Mexico, 4.7% to Nicaragua, and 4.3% to Costa Rica.[49]

The region is particularly attractive for companies (especially clothing companies) because of its geographical proximity to the United States, very low wages and considerable tax advantages. In addition, the decline in the prices of coffee and other export products and the structural adjustment measures promoted by the international financial institutions have partly ruined agriculture, favouring the emergence of maquiladoras. This sector accounts for 42 per cent of total exports from El Salvador, 55 per cent from Guatemala, and 65 per cent from Honduras. However, its contribution to the economies of these countries is disputed; raw materials are imported, jobs are precarious and low-paid, and tax exemptions weaken public finances.[50]

They are also criticised for the working conditions of employees: insults and physical violence, abusive dismissals (especially of pregnant workers), working hours, non-payment of overtime. According to Lucrecia Bautista, coordinator of the maquilas sector of the audit firm Coverco, labour law regulations are regularly violated in maquilas and there is no political will to enforce their application. In the case of infringements, the labour inspectorate shows remarkable leniency. It is a question of not discouraging investors. Trade unionists are subject to pressure, and sometimes to kidnapping or murder. In some cases, business leaders have used the services of the maras. Finally, black lists containing the names of trade unionists or political activists are circulating in employers' circles.[50]

Economic growth in Central America is projected to slow slightly in 2014–15, as country-specific domestic factors offset the positive effects from stronger economic activity in the United States.[51]

Economy size for Central American countries per Gross domestic product
CountryGDP (nominal)[46][a]GDP (nominal) per capita[52][53]GDP (PPP)[47][a]
Costa Rica44,313$10,43257,955
El Salvador24,421$3,87546,050


Central American coast

The Great Blue Hole off the coast of Belize is a prime ecotourism destination. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Semuc Champey, Guatemala.

Tourism in Belize has grown considerably in more recent times, and it is now the second largest industry in the nation. Belizean Prime Minister Dean Barrow has stated his intention to use tourism to combat poverty throughout the country.[54] The growth in tourism has positively affected the agricultural, commercial, and finance industries, as well as the construction industry. The results for Belize's tourism-driven economy have been significant, with the nation welcoming almost one million tourists in a calendar year for the first time in its history in 2012.[55] Belize is also the only country in Central America with English as its official language, making this country a comfortable destination for English-speaking tourists.[56]

Costa Rica is the most visited nation in Central America.[57] Tourism in Costa Rica is one of the fastest growing economic sectors of the country,[58] having become the largest source of foreign revenue by 1995.[59] Since 1999, tourism has earned more foreign exchange than bananas, pineapples and coffee exports combined.[60] The tourism boom began in 1987,[59] with the number of visitors up from 329,000 in 1988, through 1.03 million in 1999, to a historical record of 2.43 million foreign visitors and $1.92-billion in revenue in 2013.[57] In 2012 tourism contributed with 12.5% of the country's GDP and it was responsible for 11.7% of direct and indirect employment.[61]

Tourism in Nicaragua has grown considerably recently, and it is now the second largest industry in the nation. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has stated his intention to use tourism to combat poverty throughout the country.[62] The growth in tourism has positively affected the agricultural, commercial, and finance industries, as well as the construction industry. The results for Nicaragua's tourism-driven economy have been significant, with the nation welcoming one million tourists in a calendar year for the first time in its history in 2010.[63]



Central American license plates
Pan-American Highway slices through Central America

The Inter-American Highway is the Central American section of the Pan-American Highway, and spans 5,470 kilometers (3,400 mi) between Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and Panama City, Panama. Because of the 87 kilometers (54 mi) break in the highway known as the Darién Gap, it is not possible to cross between Central America and South America in an automobile.


Ports and harbors




  • List of architecture schools in Central America
  • List of universities in Belize
  • List of universities in Costa Rica
  • List of universities in El Salvador
  • List of universities in Guatemala
  • List of universities in Honduras
  • List of universities in Nicaragua
  • List of universities in Panama

See also


  1. ^ a b Values listed in millions USD.


  1. ^ a b c d "Central America Population". World Population Review. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  2. ^ "Central America". central-america.org. Retrieved 4 September 2016. Central America is located between North and South America and consists of multiple countries. Central America is not a continent but a subcontinent since it lies within the continent America. It borders on the northwest to the Pacific Ocean and in the northeast to the Caribbean Sea. The countries that belong to the subcontinent of Central America are El Salvador, Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Panama.
  3. ^ "Spain accepts Mexican independence". HISTORY. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  4. ^ Ribeiro, Pedro Freire (1995). [Raízes do pensamento político da América Espanhola, 1780-1826 Raízes do pensamento político da América Espanhola, 1780-1826]. Niterói, RJ: Editora da Universidade Federal Fluminense. ISBN 85-228-0146-0. OCLC 35578070. {{cite book}}: Check |url= value (help)
  5. ^ a b "A Guide to the United States'History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consumer Relations, by Country, since 1776: Belize". Office of The Historian. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  6. ^ Pebley, Anne R. and Luis Rosero-Bixby, eds., Demographic Diversity and Change in the Central American Isthmus. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1997. https://www.rand.org/pubs/conf_proceedings/CF135.html. Also available in print form.
  7. ^ United Nations Statistics Division (2017). "Standard country or area codes for statistical use (M49)". New York City: United Nations Statistics Division. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  8. ^ Augelli, JP (1962). "The Rimland-Mainland concept of culture areas in Middle America". Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 52 (2): 119–29. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8306.1962.tb00400.x. JSTOR 2561309.
  9. ^ Hoopes, John W. and Oscar Fonseca Z. (2003). Goldwork and Chibchan Identity:Endogenous Change and Diffuse Unity in the Isthmo-Colombian Area (PDF). Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks. ISBN 978-0-8263-1000-2. Archived from the original (Online text reproduction) on 25 February 2009.
  10. ^ Jones, Grant D. (1998). The Conquest of the Last Maya Kingdom. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. xix. ISBN 978-0804735223. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  11. ^ Livingstone, Grace (2013). America's Backyard: The United States and Latin America from the Monroe Doctrine to the War on Terror. Zed Books Ltd. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-84813-611-3.
  12. ^ Argueta, O; Huhn, S; Kurtenbach, S; Peetz, P (2011). "Blocked democracies in Central America" (PDF). GIGA Focus International Edition (5): 1–8. ISSN 1862-3581.
  13. ^ "Extreme poverty increases in Nicaragua in 2013, study finds". American Free Press. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  14. ^ "Central America". Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  15. ^ IBP, Inc. (2015). Central American Countries Mineral Industry Handbook Volume 1 Strategic Information and Regulations. pp. 7, 8. ISBN 978-1-329-09114-6.
  16. ^ Taylor, MA; Alfaro, EJ (2005). "Central America and the Caribbean, Climate of". In Oliver, JE (ed.). Encyclopedia of world climatology. Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series (1st ed.). New York: Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 183–9. doi:10.1007/1-4020-3266-8_37. ISBN 978-1-4020-3264-6.
  17. ^ a b "Central America" (PDF). Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  18. ^ Butler, RA (2006). "Belize forest information and data". Tropical rainforests: deforestation rates tables and charts. Menlo Park, California: Mongabay.com. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  19. ^ Butler, RA (2006). "Costa Rica forest information and data". Tropical rainforests: deforestation rates tables and charts. Menlo Park, California: Mongabay.com. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  20. ^ Butler, RA (2006). "El Salvador forest information and data". Tropical rainforests: deforestation rates tables and charts. Menlo Park, California: Mongabay.com. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  21. ^ Butler, RA (2006). "Guatemala forest information and data". Tropical rainforests: deforestation rates tables and charts. Menlo Park, California: Mongabay.com. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  22. ^ Butler, RA (2006). "Honduras forest information and data". Tropical rainforests: deforestation rates tables and charts. Menlo Park, California: Mongabay.com. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  23. ^ Butler, RA (2006). "Nicaragua forest information and data". Tropical rainforests: deforestation rates tables and charts. Menlo Park, California: Mongabay.com. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  24. ^ Butler, RA (2006). "Panama forest information and data". Tropical rainforests: deforestation rates tables and charts. Menlo Park, California: Mongabay.com. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  25. ^ Harvey, CA; Komar, O; Chazdon, R; Ferguson, BG (2008). "Integrating agricultural landscapes with biodiversity conservation in the Mesoamerican hotspot". Conservation Biology. 22 (1): 8–15. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2007.00863.x. PMID 18254848.
  26. ^ Ramos, A (2 July 2010). "Belize protected areas 26% – not 40-odd percent". Amandala. Belize City. Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  27. ^ Belize Barrier Reef case study Archived 5 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Westminster.edu. Retrieved on 21 October 2011.
  28. ^ Redo, DJ; Grau, HR; Aide, TM; Clark, ML (2012). "Asymmetric forest transition driven by the interaction of socioeconomic development and environmental heterogeneity in Central America". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 109 (23): 8839–44. Bibcode:2012PNAS..109.8839R. doi:10.1073/pnas.1201664109. PMC 3384153. PMID 22615408.
  29. ^ a b "Central American pine-oak forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  30. ^ a b "Talamancan montane forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  31. ^ a b "Central American montane forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  32. ^ Astiz, L; Kanamori, H; Eissler, H (1987). "Source characteristics of earthquakes in the Michoacan seismic gap in Mexico" (PDF). Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 77 (4): 1326–46. Bibcode:1987BuSSA..77.1326A. doi:10.1785/BSSA0770041326.
  33. ^ White, RA (1985). "The Guatemala earthquake of 1816 on the Chixoy-Polochic fault". Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 75 (2): 455–73.
  34. ^ a b ""World Population Prospects 2022"". population.un.org. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  35. ^ a b "World Population Prospects 2022: Demographic indicators by region, subregion and country, annually for 1950-2100" (XSLX). population.un.org ("Total Population, as of 1 July (thousands)"). United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  36. ^ IBP, Inc (2009). Central America Economic Integration and Cooperation Handbook Volume 1 Strategic Information, Organizations and Programs. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-4387-4280-9.
  37. ^ "2018 HDI Statistical Update". 14 September 2018. Archived from the original on 14 September 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
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  39. ^ "Christianity in its Global Context" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 December 2016.
  40. ^ Holland, CL (November 2005). Ethnic and religious diversity in Central America: a historical perspective (PDF). 2005 Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. pp. 1–34. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
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  42. ^ British Embassy San Salvador (10 June 2013). "Extra-Regional Observer of Central American Integration System". Strengthening UK relationships with El Salvador. London: Government Digital Service. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  43. ^ "Taiwan cuts ties with Costa Rica over recognition for China". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  44. ^ Ramzy, Austin (24 August 2018). "White House Criticizes China over el Salvador Recognition". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 1 January 2022.
  45. ^ "Nicaragua cuts ties with Taiwan and pivots to China". the Guardian. 10 December 2021.
  46. ^ a b International Monetary Fund (2012). "Report for selected countries and subjects". World economic outlook database, April 2012. Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  47. ^ a b International Monetary Fund (2012). "Gross domestic product based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) valuation of country GDP". World economic outlook database, April 2012. Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  48. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (2014). "World exports by country". The world factbook. Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on 4 May 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  49. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (2014). "Export partners of Guatemala". The world factbook. Washington, D.C.: Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on 13 June 2007.
  50. ^ a b "Las "maquilas" no admiten sindicalistas | El Dipló". Archived from the original on 7 April 2011.
  51. ^ International Monetary Fund (2014). World economic outlook October 2014: legacies, clouds, uncertainties (PDF). World economic and financial surveys. Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund. ISBN 978-1-4843-8066-6. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  52. ^ Data mostly refers to IMF staff estimates for the year 2013, made in April 2014. World Economic Outlook Database-April 2014, International Monetary Fund. Accessed on 9 April 2014.
  53. ^ Data refers mostly to the year 2012. World Development Indicators database, World Bank. Database updated on 18 December 2013. Accessed on 18 December 2013.
  54. ^ Cuellar, M (1 March 2013). "Foreign direct investments and tourism up". Channel 5 Belize. Belize: Great Belize Productions Ltd. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  55. ^ "2012: a remarkable year for Belize's tourism industry". The San Pedro Sun. San Pedro, Belize. 8 February 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  56. ^ "Belize | Tours & Activities – Project Expedition". Project Expedition. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  57. ^ a b Rodríguez, A (16 January 2014). "Costa Rica registró la llegada de más de 2,4 millones de turistas en 2013" [Costa Rica registered the arrival of more than 2.4 million tourists in 2013]. La Nación (in Spanish). San José, Costa Rica. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  58. ^ Rojas, JE (29 December 2004). "Turismo, principal motor de la economía durante el 2004" [Tourism, the principal engine of the economy in 2004]. La Nación (in Spanish). San José, Costa Rica. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  59. ^ a b Inman, C (1997). "Impacts on developing countries of changing production and consumption patterns in developed countries: the case of ecotourism in Costa Rica" (PDF). Alajuela, Costa Rica: INCAE Business School. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  60. ^ Departamento de Estadísticas ICT (2006). "Anuário estadísticas de demanda 2006" (PDF) (in Spanish). Intituto Costarricense de Turismo. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2008.
  61. ^ Jennifer Blanke and Thea Chiesa, ed. (2013). "Travel & tourism competitiveness report 2013" (PDF). World Economic Forum, Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  62. ^ Carroll, R (6 January 2007). "Ortega banks on tourism to beat poverty". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  63. ^ "Nicaragua exceeds one mn foreign tourists for first time". Sify.com. Archived from the original on 17 October 2018. Retrieved 30 January 2019.

Further reading

  • Berger, Mark T. Under northern eyes: Latin American studies and US hegemony in the Americas, 1898-1990. (Indiana UP, 1995).
  • Biekart, Kees. "Assessing the 'arrival of Democracy' in Central America." (2014): 117–126. online
  • Bowman, Kirk, Fabrice Lehoucq, and James Mahoney. "Measuring political democracy: Case expertise, data adequacy, and Central America." Comparative Political Studies 38.8 (2005): 939–970. online
  • Craig, Kern William. "Public Policy in Central America: An Empirical Analysis." Public Administration Research 2.2 (2013): 105+ online.
  • Dym, Jordana. From sovereign villages to national states: city, state, and federation in Central America, 1759-1839 (UNM Press, 2006).
  • von Feigenblatt, Otto Federico. "Costa Rica's Neo-Realist Foreign Policy: Lifting the Veil Hiding the Discursive Co-Optation of Human Rights, Human Security, and Cosmopolitan Official Rhetoric." International Journal of Arts & Sciences Conference, (2009). online
  • Krenn, Michael L. The Chains of Interdependence: US Policy Toward Central America, 1945-1954 (ME Sharpe, 1996).
  • Kruijt, Dirk. Guerrillas: war and peace in Central America (2013).
  • LaFeber, Walter. Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America (WW Norton & Company, 1993).
  • Leonard, Thomas M. "Central America and the United States: Overlooked foreign policy objectives." The Americas (1993): 1-30 online.
  • Oliva, Karen, and Chad Rector. "Unbalanced Regional Political Integration Is Unstable: Evidence from the Federal Republic of Central America (1823-1838)." Available at SSRN 2429123 (2014) online.
  • Pearcy, Thomas L. We answer only to God: Politics and the Military in Panama, 1903-1947 (University of New Mexico Press, 1998).
  • Pérez, Orlando J. Historical Dictionary of El Salvador (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).
  • Perez-Brignoli, Hector. A brief history of Central America (Univ of California Press, 1989).
  • Sola, Mauricio. U.S. Intervention and Regime Change in Nicaragua (U of Nebraska Press, 2005).
  • Topik, Steven C., and Allen Wells, eds. The second conquest of Latin America: coffee, henequen, and oil during the export boom, 1850-1930 (U of Texas Press, 2010).

External links

Media files used on this page

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North America (orthographic projection)
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Latin America (orthographic projection). In grey Canada, USA, Belize, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Falklands.
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Ubicación de América Latina
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Sea Storm in Pacifica, w:California
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"The Blue Marble" is a famous photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft en route to the Moon at a distance of about 29,000 kilometres (18,000 mi). It shows Africa, Antarctica, and the Arabian Peninsula.
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Holy Redeemer Cathedral, Belize City, from East, improved pic
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HDR of Panama City, Panama
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Stone spheres in National Museum of Costa Rica. This pre-columbian artefacts from Diquis's Valley are symbols of national identity for Costa Rican people.
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Available also through the Library of Congress web site as a raster image.
Central American Federation Coat of Arms 1851.jpg
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Central American Federation Coat of Arms 1851
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Pupusas salvadoreñas revueltas con su complemento
Coat of arms of Honduras.svg
The coat of arms of Honduras was created on October 3, 1825. Dionisio Herrera, as the Head of State of Honduras, decreed through his initiative, Honduras acquired its own national shield, one which represents Honduran history and the rich variety of national resources that it possesses and which should be protected and conserved. The National Congress thereby declared in its decree #16 and article 142, designated the shield as a national symbol for all uses, in a clear and general manner. The National Congress approved this in Tegucigalpa on January 10, 1935. (http://www.honduras.com/official/)

The National Congress decrees:

Article 1 - The National Coat of Arms that shall be used is an equilateral triangle. On its base is a volcano between two castles, over them is a rainbow and below it [and] behind the volcano a sun rises spreading light. The triangle [is] placed over land which appears to be bathed by both seas [Atlantic and Pacific]. Around it an oval containing in gold lettering: "REPUBLICA DE HONDURAS, LIBRE, SOBERANA E INDEPENDIENTE. 15 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 1821" [Republic of Honduras, Free, Sovereign and Independent. 15th September 1821] On the top part of the oval there is a quiver full of arrows from which hang horns of plenty joined with a knot resting over a mountain range from which clearly stand three oak trees on the right hand side and three pine trees on the left, and mines, a bar, a drill, a wedge, a sledgehammer and a hammer [all] distributed as appropriate. (http://flagspot.net/flags/hn).html)
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Complejo Financiero World Trade Center, San Salvador
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Coat of Arms of the United States of Central America
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Military flag of the United Provinces of Central America 1823-1824
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Zona de Acampar Parque Montecristo
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Flag map of Central America
Forest canopy in Belize (5344010084).jpg
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Jungle Canopy in Belize
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Banco de Guatemala, Zona1
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Atitlan Lake and Volcanoes
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On October 24, 2019, Prime Minister Abe held bilateral talks with the President of Panama Laurentino Cortizo at the Guest House Akasaka Palace.
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A Costa Rican breakfast with gallo pinto
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Cloud forest bosque in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve — in Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica.
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Flag of the Republic of Central America 1921-1922
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El árbol nacional de Panamá, Sterculia apetala, es un árbol caducifolio, que puede alcanzar una altura entre 35 y 45 metros. Este ejemplar de la foto tiene una edad aproximada de 8 años.
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Playa Blanca
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Catedral Metropolitana en San José, Costa Rica.
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Spanish pronunciation of Central America
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Semuc Champey is famous for its turquoise pools made of limestone. It is located within a Guatemalan jungle near the town of Lanquin.
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Harpy Eagle image taken in Panama
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View of San José from the Museum of Jade
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Logo of the CAFTA-DR
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The headquarters of the Central Bank of Costa Rica
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Manuel José Arce from El Salvador, first president of Central America
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Women with flags of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala preparing for 2019 Fiestas Patrias Parade, South Park, Seattle, Washington, U.S.
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Flores de maquilishuat
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Sus flores son muy llamativas, sus racimos en forma de espiga, con una longitud de más de un metro, son de color blanco crema claro y emitidas durante el verano. Al ser nativas de regiones áridas ,requieren poco riego eso hace que las yucas se cultiven ampliamente como ornamentales.
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View of the Arenal Volcano taken from The Springs Resort & Spa at Arenal.
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Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador
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Catedral Metropolitana, Guatemala City.
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Coat of Arms of the Republic of Central America 1921-1922
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Coat of Arms of the United Provinces of Central America 1823-1824
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Map of the different territorial entities that existed in Central America in the XVI century before the arrive of the spanish people. With regard to symbology, the following considerations were taken: "reino" (Kingdoms), all those territorial entities (commonly called "señoríos" (lordships) or "cacicazgos") that had a capital and a principal lord; "confederación" (confederation), all those entities conformed by "señoríos" or towns that although they were independent had some type of integration or alliance; "territorio" (territory), all those regions conformed by several "señoríos" or towns (whether sedentary, nomadic or semi-nomadic) that did not count on some type of integration or alliance, and of which there is null or little information of how they were constituted or as were delimited the territories of all or someone entities that were in that region; on the other hand, as important towns are mentioned those towns that were part of the administrative organization of some entity, those towns that had a prominent role in the Spanish conquest of some entity (such as those in which important battles were fought), and the localities where some languages or dialects were spoken, or where they are still spoken today; Finally, it is worth mentioning that the other ethnic groups or cultures shown could have been submitted to the entity where they are mentioned or could be independent of said entity.
Costa Rica Playa Tamarindo and Rivermouth 2007 Aerial Photograph Tamarindowiki 01.JPG
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2007 Costa Rica aerial photo of Playa Tamarindo and River mouth showing the town and beach of Tamarindo and the Pacific Ocean
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Panoramica de Managua
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2100 year old human footprints preserved in volcanic mud near the lake in Managua, Nicaragua. They are called Huellas de Acahualinca.
Calycophyllum candidissimum in Managua.jpg
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The Calycophyllum candidissimum, known in Nicaragua as Madroño, in a neighborhood in northern Managua, Nicaragua.
Pinus oocarpa, San Rafael del Norte, Nicaragua.jpg
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Canopy la brellera, san rafael del norte
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Route of the Pan-American Highway. Includes original route and unofficial extensions but doesn't reflect official designation of U.S. interstate highway system. Hotine Oblique Mercator Two Point Natural Origin Projection.
Bandera República Federal de Centro América 1823 - 1841.jpg
Author/Creator: Alloyblue, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Flag of the Federal Republic of Central America 1823 - 1841
Author/Creator: IAmCrisWTF513, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Plaza Morazán after it was remodeled in 2018
Iglesia Catedral de Panama.jpg
Author/Creator: Pabloalcides, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
This is a picture of the panamanian cultural heritage monument with the ID
Cocinando El Pepian.jpg
Author/Creator: erwin.flores69, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Cocinando El Pepian
Rice and Beans, Stew Chicken and Potato Salad - Belize.jpg
Author/Creator: satanoid from Austin, TX, USA, Licence: CC BY 2.0


w:en:Creative Commons
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
You are free:
  • to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
  • to remix – to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
  • attribution – You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
Checked copyright icon.svg This image was originally posted to Flickr by satanoid at https://www.flickr.com/photos/72476440@N00/5857575089. It was reviewed on 12 March 2013 by FlickreviewR and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.
12 March 2013
Coat of arms of Belize.svg
Coat of arms of Belize
Central America (orthographic projection).svg
Author/Creator: Heraldry, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Central America (orthographic projection) with colonial borders
Great Blue Hole.jpg
Great Blue Hole, Coast of Belize - a phenomenon of Karst topography.
Author/Creator: Edouard1612, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Banco Central de Honduras
Age of Consent - Central America.svg
Author/Creator: MissMJ, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
This map displays the legal age of consent for heterosexual sex in Central America.
  15 years
  16 years
  18 years
Ceiba, the Maya Tree of Life Laslovarga01.JPG
Author/Creator: Laslovarga, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Ceiba, the Maya Tree of Life, 120 years old
The Greater Republic of Central America, 1896.jpg
Author/Creator: Alloyblue, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Coat of Arms of The Greater Republic of Central America, born in 1896
Coat of arms of the Greater Republic of Central America (1898).svg
Coat of arms of the Greater Republic of Central America (1898).
Resplendent Quetzal (Male)
Playa de Corral de Mulas, Usulután, El Salvador - panoramio.jpg
(c) kadejo, CC BY-SA 3.0
Playa de Corral de Mulas, Usulután, El Salvador
Ubicación del subcontinente centroamericano en el mundo. Location of the Central American subcontinent in the world.
Es-pe - Centroamérica.ogg
Author/Creator: Bankster, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Spanish pronunciation of Central America
Presidente Bukele.jpg
Author/Creator: AndreX, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Foto de uso oficial del Presidente Nayib Bukele.
Belizean Central Bank 2015.jpg
Author/Creator: ironypoisoning, Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0
Belize City, Belize.
Enterolobium cyclocarpum in Guanacaste.jpg
Author/Creator: Flicka, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Enterolobium cyclocarpum, national tree of Costa Rica, in Guanacaste, Costa Rica
El Chorreron, San Fernando, El Salvador.jpg
Author/Creator: House1090, Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

El Chorrerón City: San Fernando Department: Morazan Country: El Salvador

Region: Central America
Nacatamal assembled.jpg
Author/Creator: Dr d12, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Assembling a Nacatamale
Guatemala City - Guatemala.jpg
Author/Creator: Carlosmanuel232, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Guatemala City is the biggest and most populated city in central america.
Author/Creator: lebarrueto, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration - SIECA
Central American Federation 1851.jpg
Author/Creator: Alloyblue, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Flag of the Central American Federation (1851)
Coat of Arms of the Federal Republic of Central America 1823 - 1841.jpg
Author/Creator: Alloyblue, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Coat of Arms of the Federal Republic of Central America 1823 - 1841
Author/Creator: ArtProf, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Detail of hairsash being brocaded on a Jacaltec Maya backstrap loom.
Diseños de matriculas Centroamericanas.png
Author/Creator: Alloyblue, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Central American license plate disigns from El Salvador, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala
Costa rica santa elena skywalk.jpg
Author/Creator: User DirkvdM on en.wikipedia, Licence: CC BY 1.0
Suspension bridge in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, Costa Rica, 23 January 2004.
Emblema del Parlamento Centroamericano.svg
Emblema del Parlamento Centroamericano (PARLACEN).
Coat of arms of El Salvador.svg
Coat of arms of El Salvador
  • The coat of arms has the words (REPÚBLICA DE EL SALVADOR EN LA AMÉRICA CENTRAL) in a bold and Heavy, Sans Serif Boris Black Bloxx typeface, in a golden amber color
  • The nacional motto (DIOS UNIÓN LIBERTAD) in bold version of Trajan (typeface), Roman type, Roman square capitals. The letters are colored black within a golden amber scroll.
  • The date (15 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 1821) in bold version of Trajan (typeface), Roman type, Roman square capitals.
Its center consists of a bold golden amber triangle outline in which a row of five green forested coned peaked volcanoes, covered in lush and healthy vegetation of various shades of green color depicting a tropical jungle forest, rise out of the turquoise Pacific Ocean swells. The volcanoes are illuminated yellow on their right sides by sunshine. Above the volcanoes is a crimson red Phrygian cap on a staff before an amber sun surrounded by rays of Glory with a vortex of shooting spiraling swirling rays, and a volcanic "red sky at morning" under the sun in the horizon. The date of the Independence Day of El Salvador, 15 September 1821, is written in black letters around the sun. On the top, there is a rainbow arch. Behind the coat of arms there are five cobalt blue and white striped flags, one of those flags is risen straight up behind and over the triangle, hanging loosely around its spear, and the other four flags are risen half way and stretch out like wings from behind the triangle's sides, two on each side, one over another. The flags hang loosely on their sides, creating almost a horn-like effect with their ends tied up behind the triangle's bottom. All of the five flags are each held up and raised with Native American Indigenous wooden war spears. Under the triangle, there is a golden amber scroll which states the national motto of El Salvador: Dios, Unión, Libertad (Spanish: "God, Union, Liberty") in boldface black capital letters. The triangle, flags, and scroll are surrounded by a green laurel wreath in various shades of Laurus nobilis green color tied together with a cobalt blue and white striped ribbon. All this is surrounded by bold golden amber letters, which form the Spanish words REPÚBLICA DE EL SALVADOR EN LA AMÉRICA CENTRAL (English: Republic of El Salvador in Central America).
Turdus grayi 4zz.jpg
Author/Creator: Photo by David J. Stang, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Location taken: Xandari Resort and Spa, Alajuela, Costa Rica. Names: Turdus grayi Bonaparte, 1838, Agyagszínű rigó, Argilkolora turdo, Clay colored Robin, Clay colored Thrush, Clay coloured Thrush, Clay-colored Robin, Clay-colored Thrush, Clay-coloured Thrush, Drozd Grayov, Drozd hnedý, Gilbdrossel, Gray's robin, Gray's thrush, Leirtrost, Lerfärgad trast, Merle fauve, Mirlo pardo, Qrey qaratoyuğu, Tamaulipas thrush, tarharastas, x-kok, Yigirro, Yigüirro, Zorzal Pardo, Бурый дрозд, Дрозд Грея, パフムジツグ Classification: Animalia > Chordata > Aves > Passeriformes > Turdus > Turdus grayi.
Republica Federal de Centro América 1842 -1845.jpg
Author/Creator: Alloyblue, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Flag of the Federal Republic of Central America 1842 -1845
A big Mahogany tree.jpg
Author/Creator: Md Tanbir Islam, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
An old aged Mahogany tree.
Mercaditode Artesanias en el Centro Historico de Santa Ana.JPG
Author/Creator: ClauH0288, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
This is a photo of an monument in El Salvador identified by the ID
Small seepage pond near the top of Cerro El Chino - ZooKeys-298-077-g004B.jpg
Author/Creator: Townsend J, Medina-Flores M, Wilson L, Jadin R, Austin J, Licence: CC BY 3.0
Habitat in the vicinity of the type locality of Bothriechis guifarroi, La Liberación, Refugio de Vida Silvestre Texíguat, Honduras: small seepage pond near the top of Cerro El Chino, 1, 380 m elevation. Photograph by Josiah H. Townsend.
Insel Zapatilla Panama.jpg
Author/Creator: Dronepicr, Licence: CC BY 3.0
Johnny Briceño (52135383761) (cropped).jpg
Author/Creator: Palácio do Planalto from Brasilia, Brasil, Licence: CC BY 2.0

(Los Angeles - EUA, 09/06/2022) Presidente da República Jair Bolsonaro, durante Sessão Plenária de Abertura da IX Cúpula das Américas.

Foto: Alan Santos/PR
Tazumal 10.jpg
Author/Creator: otrarove, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
This is a photo of an monument in El Salvador identified by the ID
Corozal Beach, Corozal, Belize.jpg
Author/Creator: acin355 from San Francisco, USA, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Belize - Corazal Beach
Keel-billed toucan.jpg
Author/Creator: Brian Gratwicke, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Keel-billed toucan at Parque Municipal Summit, Panama
Alejandro Giammattei (48934164796) (cropped).jpg
Author/Creator: 總統府, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Official Photo by Mori / Office of the President
Copan HG-Treppe.jpg
Author/Creator: HJPD, Licence: CC BY 3.0
Copán, Honduras: Hieroglyph stairway
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: CC BY-SA 2.5
Pink Pearl Island-5.jpg
Author/Creator: Pedroflores1, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Pink Pearl Island caribbean Nicaragua
Eumomota superciliosa.jpg
Author/Creator: Matteo Dal Zotto, Giuseppe Romeo, Luis A. Mena Aguilar, Dario Sonetti, Aurora Pederzoli, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Birds observed within the Karen Mogensen Reserve. Eumomota superciliosa (Momotidae), species that reach their southernmost range border approximately in the surveyed zone.
Maqueta del Banco Central de Nicaragua.jpg
Author/Creator: Zenia Nuñez from Nicaragua, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Paseo Xolotlan con estructuras de la Vieja Managua (antes del terremoto de 1972)
Salcoatitán, El Salvador - panoramio (9).jpg
Salcoatitán, El Salvador
Aerials Belize WHwy 02.jpg
Author/Creator: Denis Barthel, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Aerial of Belize, Belmopan
Tikal Guatemala Templo I 2008.jpg
Tikal, Guatemal, Temple I,
DirkvdM cloudforest-jungle.jpg
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Banco Nacional de Panamá, en vía España de la ciudad de Panamá.jpg
Author/Creator: LUCHOBA03, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Banco Nacional de Panamá, en vía España de la ciudad de Panamá.
Flag of the Greater Republic of Central America (1898).svg
Flag of the Great Republic of Central America (1895-1898)
Map of Central America.png
Author/Creator: Cacahuate, amendments by Joelf, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Map of Central America for use on Wikivoyage, English version
Roatan West End 95 we 006.jpg
Author/Creator: No machine-readable author provided. BetacommandBot assumed (based on copyright claims)., Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
West Bay, Roatan, Islas de la Bahia - Honduras, 1995
Coat of arms of Guatemala.svg
Coat of arms of Guatemala
(c) feinteriano, CC BY-SA 3.0
Xiomara Castro 2022 (cropped).jpg
Author/Creator: 總統府, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Official Photo by Simon Liu / Office of the President
Encyclia cochleata - flower.jpg
Author/Creator: Doris Lohmann from Bergisch Gladbach/Köln, Germany - NRW, Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

Encyclia cochleata - since 10 years blooming every year.

Schon seit 10 Jahren in meinem Besitz blüht diese Encyclia jedes Jahr wieder.
SVG version of the logo of SICA (Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana).
Author/Creator: Johantheghost, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
A Kuna woman displays a selection of molas for sale in the San Blas Islands of Panama.
Lago de coatepeque de color.jpg
Author/Creator: JMRAFFi, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Lago de coatepeque El Salvador
Firma del Acta de Independencia de Centroamérica.jpg
Painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence of Central America, Guatemala, 1821.
Daniel Ortega 2014 (cropped).jpg
Author/Creator: Presidencia de la República Mexicana, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Encuentro con el Presidente Daniel Ortega Saavedra, de La República de Nicaragua. II Cumbre de Jefes de Estado y de Gobierno de la CELAC. Cuba. 27 de enero, 2014.
Rain forest of Petén in Guatemala.jpg
Author/Creator: Rebecca Wilson, Licence: CC BY 2.0
Rain forest around the ancient maya city of Tikal in Petén, Guatemala. The orange trees are the Mayan Tree of Life.
Proclama de libertad (indep. Centroamérica).jpg
Painting of the First Independence Movement celebration in San Salvador. At the center, José Matías Delgado.
Rodrigo Chaves, discurso posesión (cropped).jpg
Author/Creator: Julieth Méndez - Presidencia de la República de Costa Rica, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Discurso del Presidente de Costa Rica, Rodrigo Chaves Robles ante la Asamblea Legislativa, el 8 de mayo del 2022.
Altagracia Volcan Maderas Bosque Nuboso.jpg
Author/Creator: Martin Kulldorff, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Bosque nuboso, Volcán Maderas, Altagracia, NIcaragua
Escudo Republica Federal de Centro América 1842 -1845.jpg
Author/Creator: Alloyblue, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Coat of Arms of the Federal Republic of Central America 1842 -1845
A topographical map of the region encompassing the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and Central American mountain ranges.
Flag of the Greater Republic of Central America 1896.jpg
Author/Creator: Alloyblue, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Flag of the Greater Republic of Central America 1896
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Altun Ha Belize.jpg
Author/Creator: Michael Lazarev (Asmadeus), Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0
Altun Ha, Mayan temple Belize.
Español centroamericano.png
Author/Creator: Fobos92, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Central American Spanish has dialects divided in Countries (except Costa Rica and Nicaragua that is spited).
  Fraylescano (placed in Chiapas, Mexico)
  Guatemalan Spanish
  Belizean Spanish
  Salvadoran Spanish
  Honduran Spanish

Nicaraguan Spanish:

  Mainland Nicaraguan Spanish
  Miskito Spanish

Costa Rican Spanish:

  North Pacific
  Central Valley
  South Pacific
Coat of arms of Nicaragua.svg

Coat of arms of Nicaragua.