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Central America

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Travel Guide Central America

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Introduction

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Central America is the relatively narrow strip of land straddling the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific between Mexico and Colombia. Most of the countries in Central America were part of Spanish Empire except for Belize, which was a de-facto British colony until the 1800s when it was made officially into a colony.

During modern times Central America has hosted several brutal civil wars and some horrible dictators. In the last 10 years the governments have stabilized a fair amount, although there are some areas in certain countries that are still very unstable and should be avoided. On the brighter side Central America is home to numerous indigenous cultures, stunning ruins and colonial churches. This area is very popular with budget travellers because of numerous options to experience culture and nature while not killing the bank.

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Geography

The political boundaries of Central America are the southern border of Mexico and the northern border of Colombia, where the Isthmus of Panama ends. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west while the Caribbean Sea borders the northeast and the Gulf of Mexico borders the northern area. Between these areas lies a land mass of around 592,000 square kilometres.

Most of the interior is made up of mountains home to dense jungle. Many of these mountains have stunning lakes and are volcanic making eruptions and earthquakes quite common. The ash from the eruptions make the soil rich making the jungle grow denser and helping local farmers grow their crops. Lastly along both coasts are amazing sand beaches to die for.

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Sights and Activities

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Major Cities

Landmarks

See also: Famous Landmarks

Beaches and Islands

There are many choices when opting for a secluded beach or island, especially on the Caribbean side, but don't overlook the Pacific beaches.

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Getting There and Around

It is easy to travel to Central America, you can fly from major cities in the United States such as Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Miami and Orlando to San Salvador, Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, Managua, Panama, Mexico City, Cancun and several other places. Numerous airlines fly these routes and for more information visit the respective country or city guides. There are also options of getting there overland from the USA. There are a few buses which cross the border and otherwise you can take a car. From South America, it's best to fly or take a boat between Panama and Colombia.
Buses are the way to go across Central America, and a great overview of options (both in and between countries) is thebusschedule.com.
Overlanding in your own vehicle is possible. There are a few more items to consider like choosing, buying and outfitting your vehicle. Gas prices, itineraries and insurance. There are many resources online to help you plan such an adventure.

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Language

Spanish is the official language of all the countries in Central America apart from Belize where English is the official language. But even there, Spanish is widely spoken.
Travellerspoint members have put together some phrase books that can help travellers pick up some basic phrases, grammar and pronunciation skills before their trip.

The Spanish Phrasebook would be of use before visiting Central America. Find out about contributing to or starting a new phrasebook on our project page: Project:Language Phrasebooks.

Learning Spanish

If you want to combine your travels with some study, consider taking a Spanish language course. More general information is found in Learning Spanish in South America.

Contributors

as well as Hien (12%), Herr Bert (7%), Peter (7%), LifeRemotely (5%), bentivogli (3%), KellieBarnes (2%)

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Central America Travel Helpers

  • kichikacha

    Cycled through Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama

    Ask kichikacha a question about Central America
  • i c e

    Just spent alot of time in Central America! Drove the pan-am. Speak spanish. Love this part of the world!!
    Helpful reliable info!! Ask and you shall recieve!

    Josh

    Ask i c e a question about Central America
  • Lisa Eldridge

    Hi everyone. I've been lucky enough to travel to 78 countries and 40 of them as a solo female so I know a bit about travelling alone :) My solo countries are: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, South Africa, Nepal, Mongolia, Bhutan, China, India, Hungary, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Canada, Guatemala, Holland, Germany, Czech Republic, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Peru, Italy, France, Monaco, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Ireland.

    Ask Lisa Eldridge a question about Central America
  • Isadora

    I have been a frequent traveller to Jamaica and can help with questions concerning Montego Bay, Negril, Ocho Rios and Runaway Bay areas. My background is that of pharmacologist so I can help with information concerning vaccinations, medications, etc. also.

    Ask Isadora a question about Central America
  • sailalexander

    if you want to know something about El Salvador, send me a mesage... the best country of al central america..... beatifull beaches, great food hotels and music :) you will realy have a good time here!!

    Ask sailalexander a question about Central America

This is version 40. Last edited at 11:51 on Jan 10, 14 by KellieBarnes. 53 articles link to this page.

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