Central America Overview

The portion of the American continent that connects the north and the south is called Central America and consists of a continental or isthmic portion and an insular portion (islands). Territory bathed by the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, with emphasis on the Caribbean Sea.

Physical geography

The isthmic or continental portion is the result of the uplift movement of the tectonic plate of the Central American region, forming a predominantly mountainous relief – modern folds -, with the mountain ranges concentrated on the Pacific coast, while the sedimentary plains, covered by extensive forests tropical forests are concentrated on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. The Talamanca and Isabela mountain ranges stand out in the landscape. Geological instability is determined by strong volcanic activity and earthquakes or earthquakes.

The hydrography highlights the lakes Nicaragua and Managua, located in Nicaragua and the Gatun in Panama, which emerged to connect the two sides of  the Panama Canal . The Coco River bathes Nicaragua, in addition to establishing the Nicaraguan border with Honduras, to flow into the Caribbean Sea, in Cabo Gracias a Diós. The Panama Canal, built in the early twentieth century by the United States, is an important route of navigation between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The island region is formed by a large number of islands, called the Small and Large Antilles, which correspond to parts of the continental plate that have remained immersed throughout the geological eras. Therefore, they have the same geological and geomorphological constitution as the isthmus, with mountainous relief and volcanic activity, in addition to earthquakes. The only exception to this rule is the Bahamas archipelago, of coral or coral formation.

The geological instability of Isthmic or Continental and Insular Central America stems from the converging movements between the tectonic plates of the Caribbean and that of Cocos and conservatives (transformers) between the tectonic plates of the Caribbean and the North American.

Isthmic or Continental and Insular Central America is present in the tropical or intertropical climatic zone, with the tropical climate as predominant, being hot and humid due to the great maritime influence. The vegetation is the rainforest. In the higher portions, the presence of fields and pines. The Central American region is hit every year by hurricanes, especially the island portion, the Greater Antilles.

Human Aspects

Central America has a great ethnic-cultural variety, with the population of mestizos (Amerindians and European whites) in the isthmic portion; while in the island portion whites (Europeans), blacks and mestizos (whites and blacks) predominate.

Vegetative growth above 2.0% is determined by the high birth rate and the progressive drop in the mortality rate. The predominance of the young age group is a reflection of the high vegetative growth, creating a large supply of labor, however it generates the need for high social spending on education, health, etc.

According to Countryaah official site, the region presents important migratory flows to the USA, highlighting the emigration from countries like Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Haiti, Puerto Rico (Associated State to the USA) and Cuba (Cubans arriving in the USA are considered refugees). A serious problem related to migratory flows to the USA is the growing number of minors, who escape from poverty and violence, but end up suffering the most varied types of abuse when migrating.

There are also migratory flows between Central American countries, highlighting the countries of Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic as the main recipients of immigrants in the region between 2000 and 2010.

The population of Central America is approximately 75 million. Guatemala has the largest absolute population in the isthmic portion and in all of Central America, with a population of 15 million; while in the island, Cuba is the country with the largest population, 11 million.

The population of the isthmic portion is concentrated on the Pacific coast and in the central areas, while on the plains located on the Atlantic coast, agriculture is developed in the plantation system .

Social inequality, with a high population in a situation of poverty, marks the socioeconomic situation of the region, highlighting the precarious situation of living conditions in Haiti, with the worst HDI on the continent.

Economic Aspects

The Central American countries present the economy structured mainly in agriculture, through the plantation system – large monoculture properties focused on exports -, highlighting the production of tropical agricultural crops, such as coffee, sugar cane, cocoa, cotton, tobacco and banana. The productions have a strong participation of international capital, aiming to export to the North American and European markets.

The industrial sector is poorly developed, highlighting the presence of foreign capital in the sectors of agroindustry and mineral extraction, such as oil and bauxite, which represent, respectively, an important source of income for the Lesser Antilles and Jamaica.

The tourism is an important source of income for the country, highlighting the scenic beauty of the Caribbean region, with the spa tourism. Ecotourism still develops in the tropical forests of the isthmic portion, as in Costa Rica and Panama, of the historical-cultural, as in Guatemala, with archaeological sites – legacy of the pre-Columbian Mayan civilization.

Another economic context that gives prominence to Central America, are the Tax Havens and Tax Havens, highlighting countries like Panama, Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, where there is foreign capital ease of application without identifying those involved, which ends up attracting well as legal capital, large amount of illegal capital, with reduced or even zero tax rates.

Companies invest their capital in order to benefit from tax incentives and some people, by bank secrecy, as they do not want their names to be linked to any account abroad. Unfortunately, the confidentiality of the accounts and the small fiscal control attract important sums of illegal money, coming from drug trafficking, corruption, cash from companies (tax evasion) and money laundering.

Central America