Steeped in the history of the famed Mayan civilization and forming the link between its Northern and Southern counterparts, Central America is a sub-tropical paradise. Comprising of seven nations – Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama –Central America is fast becoming a must see destination for those looking to experience an often unseen part of the world. Popular with backpackers due to its low cost and friendly people, Central America is a treasure chest waiting to be explored.
Weather & Climate
The weather & climate in Central America can be quite temperamental, which is a reflection of its predominantly tropical topography. Generally across the region, the climate is hot, with lush jungles and beautiful coastal areas. There are areas with higher elevations, such as the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica, where the temperature can drop to cooler conditions. Although the dry and rainy seasons are often distinct, they tend to vary as one passes through each country. The wet season tends to be from July – September, and can be rewarding for the brave tourist – cheaper travel, greener scenery and generally less tourists!
History & Culture
Originally part of the Mesoamerican civilization prior to the arrival of Columbus in the Americas, the countries which form Central America possess a rich history, both collectively and as individual nation states, with many cultural traditions passed down through generations to today. From the 16th century until 1821, Central America formed the Captaincy General of Guatemala, which was part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and under the supervision of the Spanish Viceroy in nearby Mexico City. From there, a united nation was forged as The Federal Republic of Central America in 1824, until the union dissolved is civil war between 1838 and 1840 with the separation of Honduras.
- Central America was the home to much of the Mayan civilization, lasting from 2600 B.C to 800 A.D, with many ruins found in modern day Belize.
- There are over 70 volcanoes scattered throughout Central America, forming a large part of the famous “Ring of Fire”.
- Central America is home to several endangered languages, spoke mostly by indigenous populations. Amongst these are the Pipil language from El Salvador and Lenca, from Honduras
- Central America makes up most of the Mesoamerican biodiversity Hotspot, which accounts for 7% of the world’s total biodiversity.
In Central America, the furthest point from the ocean that any area is located is 125 miles, so as such visiting the coastlines along the isthmus is a must. Given that the area is a tropical haven, with warm waters and amazing sealife from the many coral reefs, diving is a hugely popular pastime. Diving in Central America is cheaper than in the Caribbean and most of Mexico, so take advantage of it – in particular, the Blue Hole in Belize, which forms part of Lighthouse Reef system with almost motionless water, allowing for visibility of roughly 200 feet (from a depth of 480 feet!)