Whenever one talks about visiting America, we consider making trips to North and South America, along with Canada and the US on one end and Brazil and Argentina on the other. However, we often forget the connecting tissue between North and South America, the thin Isthmus of Central America, and the Central American countries. It is home to spectacular natural and historical landmarks packed with cultural and culinary wonders. The boundaries of the subcontinent expand to Mexico in the north, Colombia in the south, the Caribbean sea in the east, and the Pacific Ocean in the west. The northern geographic border of Central America is identified as the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico.
There are eight Central American countries: Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama, and Costa Rica. Previously, there have been worries about the security of the region that has affected the tourism sector, but currently, the reputation has improved significantly. The concept of eco-tourism has gained much recognition across the subcontinent, and food and accommodation have become easily accessible to foreigners. Consequently, travelers have begun to identify the region as a budget-friendly paradise.
In Central America, you can enjoy a complete package of history, nature, colonialism, food, and culture. The Mayan ruins, stunning beaches, lush greenery, magnificent waterfalls, beautiful colonial buildings, and volcanoes make a great package filled with adventure and excitement. The more you visit the place, the more you fall in love with Central America’s warm and pleasant nature. Someone once said that one could do almost anything except skiing in the subcontinent of Central America. However, with the concept of volcano boarding in the picture, even skiing is possible. The Isthmus stretches from Guatemala in the north to Panama in the south, so there are plenty of activities and places to visit. So plan an exciting and wonderful trip to the beautiful land of southern shores, cloud forests, Mayan and Spanish dishes, and a lot more.
Central America began more than three million years ago as a segment of land whose portions connected to each side of the water, and hence it became a part of the Isthmus of Panama. During the Pre-Columbian era, indigenous people of Mesoamerica inhabited the northern regions of Central America. Among those, three of the most notable were the Mayans and the Aztecs, who created a vast empire and built numerous cities. The Mayan, Inca, and Aztec empires ruled over the region from 1500 BCE to 1532 BCE, after which they fell to the Spanish conquerors.
Before their fall, the empires developed farming and cultivation that led to the rise of thriving village lives. They were excellent users of calendars, hieroglyphics, transportation, and math and even constructed floating gardens. However, after their fall, the Spanish began to formulate strategies to convert the natives of Central America to Catholicism and become equal in God’s eyes. Central America was subjected to decades of social unrest, constant revolution, and violent conflicts. Due to that, the subcontinent currently remains in a period of political transformation where poverty, violence, and social injustice is still widespread.
Currency: Belize Dollar (BZD)
International Airport: Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport.
Belize is identified as a Caribbean and Central American country located on the eastern coast of Central America. It has a diverse society with rich history and culture. The abundant terrestrial and marine species and diverse ecosystems allow the country to bag a key position in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. Whether you plan a family vacation, honeymoon, or solo adventure, Belize has something or the other to offer you. The country has upscale department stores and is identified as a tropical paradise and cheap travel destination. It is recognized as the only Central American country whose official language is English, not Spanish.
Capital: San Jose
Currency: Costa Rican colón (CRC)
International Airport: Juan Santamaría International Airport, Daniel Oduber International Airport.
Identified as the hummingbird capital of the world, Costa Rica is a nation in Central America that is popular due to its biodiversity, beaches, and volcanoes. It is filled with rainforests, river valleys, wildlife, and the best restaurants, luxurious hotels, and bars. Adventure and animal lovers can visit the place to enjoy cave tubing, rafting, zip-lining, and other activities and explore macaws, sloths, sea turtles, and other exciting wildlife, respectively. The country’s capital city, San Jose, is home to some of the best cultural institutions in the region. In addition, it is identified as a hotspot for shoppers and foodies due to the brewing craft industry and emerging restaurants.
Capital: San Salvador
Currency: United States dollar (USD), Bitcoin (BTC)
International Airport: Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport, El Salvador International Airport, Ilopango International Airport, and many more.
El Salvador is a nation in Central America with border towns, Honduras in the northeast and Guatemala in the northwest. The Pacific Ocean borders the southern region of the country. It is identified as the smallest country in Central America but has won the hearts of several tourists with its charming natural beauty, countless volcanoes, ancient Mayan ruins, and pristine beaches. You can visit the coffee plantation, go hiking and surfing, enjoy the country’s national dish, Pupusas, at any restaurant, and explore the beautiful city of San Salvador. However, since it is located at the bottom of Central America, tourists often overlook the land of smoking volcanoes and sleepy villages of Spanish colonization.
Capital: Guatemala City
Currency: Quetzal (GTQ)
International Airport: La Aurora International Airport, Mundo Maya International Airport.
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by El Salvador in the southeast and the Pacific Ocean in the south. It offers an ideal blend of beaches, culture, adventure, and colonialism in Central America. Explore the fascinating Mayan culture, volcanic landscapes, and the colonial town of Antigua. Similar to most Central American countries, Guatemala includes Spanish as its official language. The country is recognized as the birthplace of chocolate and one of Central America’s major rum producers. Listen to the traditional Marimba music, shop the beautiful jade jewelry, and try out the exquisite cuisines of Guatemala city.
Currency: Lempira (HNL)
International Airport: Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport, Goloson International Airport, Toncontín International Airport, and many more.
A country in Central America, Honduras is known for its rich natural resources that consist of minerals, tropical fruits, sugar cane, coffee, and the growing textile industry. It is the abode of fantastic Mayan ruins, pristine beaches, and fascinating wildlife, yet it is a less-visited country in Central America. The country’s violent reputation and crime stats are majorly highlighted, but the friendly locals and diverse tourist attractions are overlooked. It even consists of ruthless drug dealers and is identified as a narco-state.
Capital: Mexico City
Currency: Mexican peso (MXN)
International Airport: Mexico City International Airport, Cancún International Airport, Monterrey International Airport, and many more.
Mexico is a country in the southern region of North America. It offers various exquisite experiences that cater to the requirements and expectations of every traveling individual. The beauty, history, marine life, shopping sites, and cenotes are some of the popular things that make the place an ideal destination. Along with just about every country in Central America except one, the official language of Mexico is Spanish. It is the world’s fourth most biodiverse country and is popular for its ancient ruins, incredible cuisine, lively nightlife, and tropical beaches.
Currency: Córdoba (NIO)
International Airport: San Carlos Airport, Corn Island Airport, Augusto C. Sandino International Airport, and many more.
Nicaragua is identified as the largest country in Central America, whose indigenous culture plays an important role in its popularity. Both Spanish and British conquested the country in Latin America. However, the British colony was conquested after the Spanish ones. Famous for volcanoes and lakes, the country is home to two of the largest freshwater lakes in Central America and one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast consists of two autonomous regions, the South and North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region.
Capital: Panama City
Currency: Balboa (PAB)
International Airport: Panamá Pacífico International Airport, David “Enrique Malek” International Airport, Tocumen International Airport, and many more.
Panama is a transcontinental country whose northern part is in South America and the southern part is in North America. It is popular for its canal and rich biodiversity which is greater than the biodiversity of the United States, Canada and Europe. Miles of pristine beaches on two oceans, wild tropical forests, and a myriad of Islands are available in the country. It is identified as the geographical meeting point of North and South America. The vibrant culture, historic old towns, rural villages, and natural beauty creates a unique experience and attracts the tourists.
The ideal time to plan a trip to Central America is between the months of December and April. These are identified as the dry seasons of the subcontinent and most of its region. However, Central America consists of eight countries that have different climatic conditions differing from each other. Therefore, it is valid to state that the temperature and weather varies from country to country, depending upon their elevation and nature. However, throughout the year, the subcontinent of Central America experiences a balmy and tropical weather. So, consider all the options and plan your trip accordingly to ensure that you have a great trip with happy memories and beautiful experiences.
Pollo en Crema: A Guatemalan dish that includes chicken breasts drenched in a rich and creamy sauce.
Curtido: Also known as El Salvadorean, Curtido contains fermented cabbage and is eaten as a side dish with pupusa.
Casados: A popular dish of Costa Rica consisting of white rice, beans, any kind of meat, and a salad.
Tres Leches Cake: It is a dense and moist dessert prepared with sponge cake and three types of milk. Invented in Nicaragua, it is popular throughout Central America.
Some other dishes and drinks famous in Latin America include:
Now since you are aware of the exquisite delicacies of Central America, a list of the best restaurants where you can try the cuisines are given: