Central America

Easy Earth Science for Kids on Central America - Image of Belize Beach in Central America - Central America Worksheet
Easy Earth Science for Kids on Central America - Image of Belize Beach in Central America

Central America is a region located between North and South America. It consists of seven countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The region is known for its rich biodiversity, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. Central America has a long history of ancient civilizations, including the Maya and Aztecs.

It is also home to various indigenous communities. The economy of Central America is diverse, with agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing being major industries. The region faces challenges such as poverty, inequality, and environmental issues. However, efforts are being made to promote sustainable development and improve the quality of life for its inhabitants.

Central America Facts for Kids

  • Central America is located between North and South America.
  • It’s made up of seven countries.
  • Spanish is the most spoken language.
  • The Panama Canal is an important waterway in Central America.
  • It’s home to many tropical rainforests.
  • Many ancient civilizations, like the Maya, lived there.
  • Central America has both Pacific and Caribbean coasts.
  • The region is known for its biodiversity.
  • Central America has many active volcanoes.

History of Central America

The region is rich in history and cultural diversity, offers an intriguing exploration environment for children. Comprising seven countries including Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama, this area holds a significant place in global history.

It was home to ancient civilizations such as the Maya and Aztecs who, thousands of years ago, constructed impressive cities featuring large pyramids and developed sophisticated systems related to writing, mathematics, and astronomy.

The 16th-century arrival and colonization by Spanish explorers also left an enduring impact evident in the present-day language, religion, and traditions of Central America.

Central American Geography

It’s a geographically diverse area, featuring stunning mountains, active volcanoes, shimmering lakes, lush rainforests, and exquisite coastlines that meet both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Aside from its diverse geography, Central America is also home to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the world’s second-largest barrier reef.

Another notable feature of this region is the Panama Canal, a human-made waterway that links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, dramatically cutting down travel time for vessels. The region’s richness in unique flora and fauna makes it an intriguing destination for young explorers to discover and learn from.

Central American Cultures and Traditions

Each nation is characterized by its own unique heritage, steeped in a fusion of indigenous, Spanish, and African cultures. A testament to these ancient civilizations is evident in Guatemala and Honduras, where centuries-old Mayan ruins stand.

Cultural celebrations, like the grand ‘Quinceañera’ marking a girl’s 15th birthday, and the ‘Day of the Dead,’ a tradition of remembering departed loved ones, are deeply significant in Central American societies. These traditions often feature traditional dances, music, and food, with cuisine typically showcasing corn, beans, rice, and tropical fruits like mangoes and avocados. By exploring these unique cultures and traditions, children can gain a broader perspective of global diversity.

Central American Politics and Government

Most of these countries primarily operate as democratic republics, in which citizens elect their leaders. For example, Costa Rica is recognized for its stable democracy, which, like the United States, is divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

Conversely, Nicaragua has experienced political instability and civil unrest. It’s critical to understand that the political landscape in Central America significantly impacts the daily lives of its citizens, shaping everything from laws and education to their safety.

Central American Economies

Encompassing seven nations – Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, Central America boasts diverse economies, enriched by a wealth of natural resources including coffee, bananas, sugar, and corn, which contribute significantly to the region’s income.

The economies of Panama and Costa Rica outperform the rest in the region. Panama’s economic strength is significantly enhanced by the renowned Panama Canal, facilitating maritime passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, while Costa Rica’s economy flourishes on the back of tourism, and the export of electronics and agricultural products.

Conversely, countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras largely rely on remittances from citizens working overseas. Despite the evident economic growth in these countries, they continue to grapple with persistent challenges such as poverty and inequality.

Indigenous Peoples of Central America

The region was home to the ancient Maya, a prominent indigenous group, which flourished for millennia, cultivating an intricate civilization characterized by a distinctive writing system, sophisticated mathematics, and impressive architecture.

The area also nurtures other indigenous cultures such as the Lenca, Miskito, Kuna, and Ngäbe, each with unique traditions, languages, and customs, which significantly augment the cultural diversity of the region. Even in the face of deforestation and cultural assimilation, these native communities persist in their crucial role in Central America, safeguarding their age-old traditions whilst concurrently adopting contemporary modifications.

Central American Cuisine

A delightful fusion of diverse cultures and traditions predominantly borrows from the culinary practices of the indigenous people of Central America and the Spanish conquistadors. Maize, commonly referred to as corn is a staple ingredient used across the region, often transformed into tortillas and served with most meals.

Other dietary mainstays include beans, rice, and a variety of fruits such as mangoes, pineapples, and bananas. Each Central American country boasts its unique dishes; Guatemala is renowned for its traditional chicken stew, pepian, while Costa Rica is famous for gallo pinto, a blend of rice and black beans. The extensive coastline, coupled with access to the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, allows Central American cuisine to feature a remarkable range of seafood.

Central American Wildlife and Ecology

A vibrant ecological hotspot nestled between North and South America encompasses approximately 7% of the world’s biodiversity. This region is a sanctuary for a myriad of unique and vibrant species, including the iconic resplendent quetzal, known for its brilliant green plumage. The diverse habitats such as tropical rainforests, mangroves, and coral reefs are home to a wide range of wildlife including jaguars, tapirs, and sea turtles.

Beyond its rich biodiversity, Central America’s ecology contributes significantly to the planet’s overall health, with its forests functioning as a substantial carbon sink aiding in the battle against climate change. Nonetheless, this biodiversity treasure is confronted with threats from deforestation and climate change, underscoring the urgency of conservation endeavors.

Central America Tourism

The region attracts tourists worldwide, offering stunning beaches, lush rainforests, magnificent volcanoes, and ancient Mayan ruins. Costa Rica stands out for its extraordinary biodiversity and conservation efforts, being home to over 5% of global species. Similarly, Panama is acclaimed for its man-made marvel, the Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Children visiting Central America can enjoy a thrilling yet educational journey, exploring distinct ecosystems, cultures, and historical landmarks.

Central American Education Systems

It’s recognized for its rich cultural diversity, abundant wildlife, and scenic landscapes, also stands out for its distinctive education system.

Much like in other global regions, Central American nations underline the significance of education for children, with the system typically consisting of primary education for 6-12-year-olds and secondary education for those aged 12-18. It’s also noteworthy that free education is a commitment most Central American countries adhere to, although the quality and accessibility of education can differ significantly between countries.

Despite grappling with issues such as scarcity of resources, rural access, and high school dropout rates, these nations are persistently making efforts to enhance their educational systems, striving to secure a brighter future for their upcoming generations.

Easy Earth Science for Kids All about Central America - Image of Belize Beach in Central America
Easy Earth Science for Kids All about Central America – Image of Belize Beach in Central America

This part of the world is mostly rain forest. It is rich in natural resources, but many people here are very poor. The Central American countries have seen many wars. There are about 42 million people living in Central America.

Central America is covered with volcanoes, which create rich, fertile soil for farmland. Many people fish here too. The most central part of Central America is 125 miles from the ocean.

All about Central America Fun Science Facts for Kids - Central American Land image
All about Central America Fun Science Facts for Kids – Central American Land image

To the east of Central America lie hundreds of islands known as the Caribbean Islands. Most of the native people were killed by disease or taken as slaves when the Spanish arrived. The Spaniards brought thousands of slaves from Africa to work on farms in this area. Most people living here are descendants of those slaves.

Fun Kids Science Facts All about Central America - Image of an Urban Surroundings in Central America
Fun Kids Science Facts All about Central America – Image of an Urban Surroundings in Central America

The Caribbean islands and Central America often experience volcanoes, hurricanes and earthquakes.

Fun Facts about Central America for Kids

  • Spanish is the primary language spoken in Central America
  • Covers 202,000 square miles of land
  • Population of almost 42 million people
  • Contains the Pan-American Highway, which is listed in the Guinness World Records as the world’s longest “motorable road”.
  • Crops of coffee, bananas and beans grow in the fertile valleys
  • Honduras, Panama and Costa Rica are often called the “banana republics” because of the importance bananas have to their economies
  • Most of the population are mestizo, or of indigenous and Spanish decent
  • Most people are Roman Catholic
  • The Panama Canal, in Panama, is a man-made short-cut for ships sailing between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans

Central America Vocabulary

  1. Economy: Study of a system’s money, currency and trade; Management of community resources
  2. Rain forest: forest in a climate with no dry season and high annual rainfall
  3. Disease: abnormal or harmful condition of the body or mind that causes discomfort or dysfunction
  4. Indigenous: Native to a land or region; Innate
  5. Canal: Artificial waterway
  6. Fertile: Land capable of supporting and growing abundant crops

Learn More All about Central America

Here’s a great video for kids on Central America:

A video discussing all about Central America and the Caribbean’s geography and culture.

Central America Q&A

Question: Why did the native people of Central America accept the Roman Catholic religion?

Answer: Mainly they accepted it because the conquering Spaniards forced them. Part of it that helped make it easier was that the native religions had several gods and though Catholicism honors only one God it does have several saints. The natives allowed this aspect to blend with their native beliefs making it easier for them to make the change.


Question: How did the Spaniards get away with bringing in and using so many slaves?

Answer: Back in the early 1500’s when the Spaniards took control of the Central American area slavery was a common trade not only by the Spanish, but worldwide. Though today it is outlawed and scorned, the past practice of slavery was the main reason the world became as populous and diverse as it is today.

Map of Central America

Here’s a map of Central America and all its countries, cities and villages. Zoom in to get into street level or zoom out to see other countries around Central America! You can see the terrain, but also see the roads, images of the buildings and even take a 3D tour through the streets of the countries in Central America, as though you are actually there!