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Central America, southernmost region of North America, lying between Mexico and South America and comprising Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Belize.(Geologists and physical geographers sometimes extend the northern boundary to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico.)Central America makes up most of the tapering isthmus that separates the Pacific Ocean, to the west, from the Caribbean Sea.The civil unrest of the 1980s displaced up to 1,000,000 people, including an estimated 500,000 Salvadorans who entered the United States.

Many Indian languages are also spoken throughout the region.

Vigorous economic growth during the 1960s and ’70s was followed by national indebtedness and low or negative economic growth rates in the 1980s.

Throughout the 1980s and into the ’90s, armed conflict, civil wars, high inflation, and poor social conditions contributed to a deteriorating economy, and most countries had to seek foreign aid from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.

Until the beginning of the 19th century, immigration was officially limited to citizens of Spain, and the Spanish were thus the only significant European contributors to the ethnic mixture of the area.

Three-fifths of the people of Central America are of mixed European and Indian descent (called Ladinos in Guatemala and mestizos elsewhere), and one-fifth are Indian.