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Central America

isthmus, western hemisphere, geographers, Belize, Costa Rica

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Central America, region of the western hemisphere, made up of a long, tapering isthmus that forms a bridge between North and South America. Central America, which is defined by geographers as part of North America, has an area of about 521,500 sq km (about 201,300 sq mi) and includes the countries of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. The region has a population of approximately 36.4 million (2000 estimate).


Arnold, Caroline. City of the Gods. Clarion, 1994. A photographic journey through the ancient Aztec city of Teotihuacan; for younger readers.

Booth, John A., and Thomas W. Walker. Understanding Central America. 3rd ed. Westview, 1993, 1999. A thorough guide to the political and social complexities of the region.

Bunson, Stephen M., and Margaret E. Bunson. Encyclopedia of Ancient Mesoamerica. Facts on File, 1996. Guide to the people, places, and history of the region.

Dominguez, Jorge I., and Marc Lindenberg, eds. Democratic Transitions in Central America. University Press of Florida, 1997. A study of the transition from civil war to democracy as experienced in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

Drew, David. The Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings. University of California Press, 2000. This study provides new evidence on the ruin of the Maya empire.

Reddish, Paul. Spirits of the Jaguar: The Natural History and Ancient Civilizations of the Caribbean and Central America. BBC/Parkwest, 1997. An illustrated companion to the popular BBC-PBS television series on the natural history of the region.

Sieder, Rachel, ed. Central America: Fragile Transition. St. Martin's, 1996. Explores the nature of democratic transition following the abatement of civil wars in the region.

Wallace, David Rains. The Monkey's Bridge: Mysteries of Evolution in Central America. Sierra Club, 1997. The biological and geological evolution of the land bridge between the Americas.

Weaver, Frederick Stirton. Inside the Volcano: The History and Political Economy of Central America. Westview, 1994. Central America's colonial past and its effect on current political and social structures.


Robinson, David J., B.A., Ph.D. Dellplain Professor of Latin American Geography, Syracuse University. Director of Latin American Studies Program, Global Affairs Institute, Maxwell School, Syracuse University. Editor of Migration in Colonial Latin America and other books.

Microsoft Encarta 2009. 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.

Article key phrases:

isthmus, western hemisphere, geographers, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, bridge, South America, North America, Central America, region, area

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