Central America is the thin section of land that links the North American continent with the South American continent. Geographically part of North America, it is made up of seven small, mostly tropical countries that have much more in common with South America and Mexico than the more affluent north. Mexico is occasionally considered part of Central America due to the language and cultural heritage it shares with several of the countries in the region.
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Until the 1990s, the region, (apart from peaceful Honduras, Belize and Costa Rica), was subject to brutal repression (Guatemala), civil wars (El Salvador and Nicaragua), and proxy wars between opposite parties supported either by the US or the Soviet Union.
This dark political and social situation changed with the end of the Cold War and after the signing of peace agreements at the beginning of the 1990s. Now the region is living a process of change and reforms that will hopefully allow travelers to discover an interesting and relatively cheap travel destination. Generally, the people of Central America are kind and warm, and welcoming to foreigners. There is a diversity of culture from one end of Central America to the other, and indigenous culture plays an important role in the region, especially in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
- Antigua Guatemala
- Belize City
- Guatemala City
- Panama City
- San José
- San Pedro Sula
- San Salvador
Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica are generally safer than Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Belize, which suffer from the maras (street gangs) and also have the highest crime rates in the region. The police are often not seen as reliable or trustworthy. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported last year that Guatemala had the highest murder rate in all of Latin America, with 70.0 homicides per 100,000. In comparison, the murder rate in the United States of America is 5.6 homicides per 100,000. Night travel is dangerous anywhere in Central America, especially in national capitals. Illegal drugs are common in the region so stay clear!
Crossing into South America overland might seem like a good idea when you look at a world map, however, it's not. The border to Colombia in Panama's Darien province is surrounded by a dangerous wilderness and the only break in the Pan-American Highway. Known as the Darien Gap, this is the playground of ruthless drug smugglers and militias who will be happy to kidnap or kill you. Unless you're a movie Predator, stay away.
- North America & South America
- Ages of consent in North America
- Prostitution across the Americas
- Spanish Sex Phrasebook