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Central America

Central America

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Central America

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  1. Central America

  2. Central America • 7 countries: Guatamala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama • Spanish is the official language of each, except Belize (English) • Religion: Roman Catholic • People are generally mestizo or mulatto (European & African mix)

  3. USCA? • After independence from Spain (1821), formed the United Provinces of Central America, modeled after the USA • Lasted only 15 years before civil war dissolved the union

  4. Central America relies heavily on export of coffee and bananas • “Banana Republics” • Sugar, cotton, and cacao are also important • Most wealthy families in the region have long-standing ties to foreign companies and to their own armies

  5. Guatemala • Roughly the size of Tennessee, 2/3 of country is mountainous • 32 active volcanoes • Deforestation a severe problem • A series of military dictatorships and civil wars since independence in 1840 has kept country unstable and poverty-ridden • Highest population in region (the most Indians, too)

  6. Costa Rica • Costa Ricans known as ticas • One of the largest banana producers in the world • The most consistent history of democracy in the region – highest per capita GDP • Most of the population is of European (Spanish) descent • Strong tourism industry due its natural beauty (ecotourism) • Belief in peace above all else… has no army

  7. Nicaragua • Largest and poorest country in region • Corruption and political upheaval are to blame (communists – Sandinistas – ruled until democratic reforms in 1990) • Was a candidate for the canal

  8. Belize • Only Central American nation with British background • Only achieved independence in 1981 – previously, it was “British Honduras” • Only Central American nation with no Pacific coastline • Tourism and agriculture (sugar, citrus, bananas) are main economic activities

  9. El Salvador • Smallest country in Central America – only one with no Caribbean coastline • History of oppressive dictatorships • Brutal 12-year civil war ended in 1992 • Damaging hurricanes and earthquakes have prevented any progress since • Economy is based around money sent home by Salvadorans in the U.S.

  10. Panama • U.S. helped it secede from Columbia – then signed treaty allowing U.S. to build canal there • U.S. invaded Panama in 1989 to oust dictator Manuel Noriega – who is still in a U.S. prison on drug charges • Service based economy is 2nd strongest in region