||507,966 km2 (196,127 sq mi)
||46,761,485 (2015-2016 estimate)
||92/km2 (240/sq mi)
||$203.73 billion (
exchange rate) (2013)
$370.52 billion (
purchasing power parity) (2013).
|GDP per capita
||$4,783 (exchange rate) (2013)
$8,698 (purchasing power parity) (2013).
other languages of Mesoamerica
||UTC – 6:00, UTC – 5:00
Largest cities (2010)
Central America (
Spanish: América Central or Centroamérica) is the southernmost,
isthmian portion of the
continent, which connects with the
South American continent on the southeast. Central America is bordered by
Mexico to the north,
Colombia to the southeast, the
Caribbean Sea to the east, and the
Pacific Ocean to the west. Central America consists of seven countries:
Panama. The combined population of Central America is between 41,739,000 (2009 estimate)
 and 42,688,190 (2012 estimate).
Central America is a part of the
biodiversity hotspot, which extends from northern Guatemala through to central Panama. Due to the presence of several
active geologic faults and the
Central America Volcanic Arc, there is a great deal of seismic activity in the region.
Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur frequently; these natural disasters have resulted in the loss of many lives and much property.
Pre-Columbian era, Central America was inhabited by the
indigenous peoples of
Mesoamerica to the north and west and the
Isthmo-Colombian peoples to the south and east. Soon after
Christopher Columbus's voyages to the
Americas, the Spanish began to
colonize the Americas. From 1609 until 1821, most of the territory within Central America—except for the lands that would become Belize and Panama—was governed by the Viceroyalty of
New Spain from
Mexico City as the
Captaincy General of Guatemala. After New Spain achieved independence from Spain in 1821, some of its provinces were annexed to the
First Mexican Empire, but soon seceded from Mexico to form the
Federal Republic of Central America, which lasted from 1823 to 1838. The seven states finally became independent autonomous states: beginning with Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Guatemala (1838); followed by El Salvador (1841); then Panama (1903); and finally Belize (1981). Even today, though, people in Central America sometimes still refer to their nations as though they are provinces of a Central American state (e.g. it is still common to write "C.A." after the country names, in formal and informal contexts).