Central America

Central America Geography

North America

According to Countryaah, Central America, is a part of America, consisting of Mexico, Central America (mainland bridge between North and South America, from Guatemala to Panama) and the Caribbean or West Indies. Central America thus covers an area of2,723,000km 2 with 215.6 million inhabitants.


The climate of Central America is, according to the location, tropical, in the east by the northeast trade wind, on the Pacific slope by the southeast trade wind. Cold north winds (Nortes) also cause non-periodic cold snaps in this area, especially on the Atlantic side.

The north-east and east-facing roofs facing the Passat are the most humid and receive incline rain of up to 6,000 mm in some cases. In the deeper depressions and valleys, however, there are arid areas, some of which receive less than 500 mm of annual rainfall. The climatic altitudes are also of great importance in Central America as Tierra caliente, Tierra templada and Tierra fria.

The climate of West India has an oceanic-tropical character with consistently high heat; on the higher islands there is a gradation according to height. The northeast trade wind blows almost evenly all year round. In the months of August to October, hurricanes migrating to the northwest often cause damage and casualties that are generally greater than those caused by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. A large part of the precipitation falls as incline rain, so that the windward sides of the mountains are particularly humid, while the lee sides and the flatter islands appear as dry areas.

Flora and fauna

The Central American vegetation shows a transitional character between North and South America, with the Nicaraguan depression forming a certain border between the vegetation adjoining subtropical North America (oaks, pines, cacti) and the South American-tropical. Up to about 800 m, as long as there is an average annual precipitation of at least 2,000 mm, there is lush tropical jungle rich in epiphytes and creepers; on the drier Pacific side, however, many deciduous trees lose their leaves in the dry season, and pine forests also appear on the sandy soil on the Atlantic coast. From about 800 m the mountain forest begins, which initially consists of evergreen deciduous trees, but upwards gives way to deciduous trees of the temperate zone (oaks) and pines and from 2,300 m appears as high-altitude forest and, among other things.

The fauna of Central America has a largely tropical-South American character, as many South American species have penetrated north across the Nicaraguan Depression (sloth, tapir, armadillo, ant animal, tree porcupine, numerous monkeys). The large mammals, such as puma, jaguar, roe deer, and pintail deer, have largely been exterminated. Bird and insect world are rich.


Today’s population has been shaped primarily by modern immigration. The indigenous inhabitants, the Indians, make up almost 10% of the total population today – without taking into account the mixed race. It is difficult to provide more detailed information because they are mixed to a large extent with European immigrants, but also with blacks and the term “Indian” is not defined in the same way in all countries and is mostly only used for those who only speak one Indian language and still live in their traditional tribal union. At the beginning of the colonial era, 0.7 million inhabitants are given for Central America and 0.25 million for the West Indies.

The whites living in Central America are predominantly descendants of the Spaniards who immigrated during the colonial period; in the Lesser Antilles they are also of British, French and Dutch origins. With the exception of Costa Rica, Cuba and Puerto Rico, they are only minorities in Central America. The largest group in Central America and Mexico are the mestizos, on the West Indies the blacks.

The first blacks came soon after the discovery – apart from a few companions of the conquistadors – as house slaves of the Spaniards. Since the Indians proved unsuitable for work in the tropical lowlands, the Spanish crown allowed the importation of African slaves. First they were brought to the West Indies, then to the mainland, wherever sugar cane was grown (later also tobacco and cotton). Today they form the majority in the West Indies (except in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba). Soon after the arrival of the blacks, the number of mixed race (especially the mulattos, less the zambos) grew.

In line with the sharp reduction in the Indian population as a result of forced labor and epidemics and the low number of European immigrants, the conquest of America was initially followed by a population decline. The gradual population growth that began during the late colonial period increased (particularly due to renewed European immigration) during the second half of the 19th century and in the 20th century. Immigration no longer plays a role today. The birth rate and the sharp drop in mortality are decisive for population growth.

Central America